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31 Los Angeles to Hawaii Princess Diamond Princess Cruise Reviews

Greetings all, We, my wife Kathy and me, have cruised previously, 4 times with Carnival and once with Royal Caribbean. We have been talking of going to Hawaii for over two decades, we booked the 15 day round trip cruise out of Los Angeles ... Read More
Greetings all, We, my wife Kathy and me, have cruised previously, 4 times with Carnival and once with Royal Caribbean. We have been talking of going to Hawaii for over two decades, we booked the 15 day round trip cruise out of Los Angeles to Hawaii, then to Ensenada and back on the Diamond Princess, now it was finally time to start the planning. Due to increasing pain in my ears when flying, we would have to drive from Florida to California. We contacted the Double Tree Hotel in San Pedro and were advised that we could leave our car parked there while we were on the ship. We booked one night with them prior to our cruise and their courtesy van took us and our luggage to the cruise ship the next morning. We left the hotel at 11:10 AM, March 17th and we were at the pier at 11:25 AM and handing our luggage to the porter. These folks from Double Tree were absolutely outstanding, the accommodations were very nice and they made the beginning of our cruise very enjoyable. Upon leaving the porter and getting in line for embarkation, we noticed that the lines were not exceedingly long. We breezed through embarkation and were standing on the ship by 12 o'clock noon, again, outstanding. We dropped off our carry on luggage in our cabin and then went to the buffet and had lunch. I then went to the top deck of the ship and began to take a video tour of the ship and kept working my way down the ship one deck at a time. Upon getting back to the cabin I learned that most of our luggage had arrived and my wife was busy putting our things away. The last piece of luggage arrived and we were done unpacking and all things were hung up in the closet or placed in the drawers by 3:00 PM, again, outstanding. We went to our assigned location, the Princess theater, for the muster drill, that went very well; it was well organized and was brief but effective. We had a group of us from Cruise Critic that had pre-arranged a first meeting in the casino, since it must not open while in port, right after sail-away. It was great to finally meet the folks that we had been online with for those many months prior to the cruise. We had requested traditional dining but there was no room for us so we went to the anytime dining rooms. There were three of them and we tried each one but after 3 nights still wanted to be assigned to the traditional dining room. Upon meeting with the staff we were able to be assigned at a table at the first seating in the traditional dining room where another couple had abandoned their seating there. It was a fabulous choice; we had much fun with our tablemates. Our days at sea were filled with a number of options to select from. We got with a group of people that we met one day and we were frequently involved in the trivia games (the MC was Cameron, he was most excellent at this) with them (our group won 3 times). I also enjoyed going to three different lectures from the golf pro, Rob Bernard, I got many tips that I plan to try out later on. My wife signed up for a computer Photoshop elements class. It was composed of four classes and she found it very helpful as she is arranging our many photos and learned how to "manage and adjust" these photos before placing them in a photo album. I signed up for the onboard Ryder Cup golf competition, a version of putt putt golf, but with the added challenges from a moving ship and the ever present wind it became very tricky (and lucky in some cases). There were some very skilled golfers there, but if the ship made a move at the wrong time, it caused a missed putt. I was very fortunate to win this event, the competition was very tough, but there was much fun had by these fine folks. I enjoyed the comedian, Jack Wilks, and his family style of comedy, it was very entertaining. On another evening there was a ventriloquist, Willie Tyler & Lester, another very entertaining evening. Another evening there was a comedian, Jeff Wayne, who was VERY funny; I thought that he was the best yet, I just loved the show. On another night there was a hypnotist, Terry Stokes, and it was another very entertaining evening. There was also bingo, the always present horse racing, as well as the casino. There were other options that we are not particularly interested in such as karaoke, passenger talent shows, bands, singers & dancers. There were so many things to do that often we had to make a difficult choice as to what we wished to do the most. We had a Cruise Critic Meet & Greet the second day of the cruise and about 36 of our people were there. Also the Cruise Director Dan and Asst. Cruise Director Andre joined us and added much fun to our gathering of cruisers. Our first port was at Hilo and we took the Volcano National Park excursion through Princess. We had hoped that the Kilauea Volcano would still be active for us to be able to photograph, well; it blew its top about 3 days prior to our arrival. The authorities moved all excursions back from the volcano about 25 miles for their safety. We could easily see the smoke and steam rising from the crater from that distance, and were able to get some memorable photos and video from there. Upon being back aboard the ship, and as we were leaving the island we went past the area where the lava was running down the island and entering the sea. This was night time by now and again I was able to get some meaningful photos and video of this event, again, outstanding. Our next port of call was Kona where we had booked a snorkeling excursion with Seaquest Tours, a private excursion. We had a great time with these folks and I was able to get many great underwater pictures of a variety of brightly colored fish. While there several Spinner Dolphins arrived (the guide guessed that there were about 80 of them) and were jumping out of the water straight up in kind of a corkscrew manner. They were also swimming in pairs, jumping out of the water side by side and putting on quite a show for us. We were told that it is very rare for them to come into the area where people snorkel, that made this a special treat for us. The guides also took us too many points where there was lava and caves that had been hollowed out by the waves coming ashore. They were very good at this and added much fun and points of interest to the tour. Thank you Dre & Shawna, you two were just wonderful and added much to our tour. We were back aboard the ship and then some whales began to surface and splash around a bit while we were still in port. I was able to get some more memorable moments captured on video right from our balcony, again, outstanding. (I've got to quit saying that) Next we went to Lahaina and we had signed up for a tour through Princess to the Iao Valley and Tropical Plantation Tour. This was very different from what we had seen so far, but also provided some great mountain scenery and then some great viewing of the various plants and vegetation at the plantation. This was another day that was well spent and provided many photo opportunities. Once again everyone was very pleasant and made the tour very enjoyable. We then went to Honolulu, the capitol of Oahu. We had booked with a private excursion called The Duck Tour. It is an amphibious 6 wheel drive vehicle, formerly a military vehicle, now converted to a bright yellow tour vehicle, both on water and on land. We were treated to a tour of the area and then drove into the water and viewed the bay from the vantage point that usually just those in boats would get. Once finished with the water tour we were then taken to the USS Arizona Memorial and, after waiting a long time, we spent about an hour viewing a very moving video presentation, and then we were taken to the memorial. The entire experience was very moving; it was treated as a place of reverence by all and was a most solemn time for all of us. There really is an oil slick still coming from the USS Arizona which still remains under water, and I photographed that as well as the other points of interest there. May they all rest in peace. We went back to the ship and changed clothes and got ready to go someplace that we have talked about going to for a long time. We had contacted Germaine's Luau online, another private option, and we went there and had just a terrific time. It was as much fun as we had expected that it might be, a great variety of food, I enjoyed it all. The entertainment was also wonderful, what a terrific evening it was, we came back with many great memories and photo's as well. Our next port was Kauai, we had booked a 4x4 backroads adventure. I expected that it would be slow and show us some "off of the highway" scenery and provide some photo opportunities. The scenery was there, but it did not turn out to be the photo shoot that I had expected. When there are chuckholes and washouts that should be crossed over at 5 MPH, one should not take them at 25 MPH. It was impossible to take pictures when being thrown all over the place. The few times that we were allowed to get out of the van, I finally got some nice shots. We were definitely taken to some beautiful places that were off the beaten path, but there were times that I wasn't sure that I was going to be able to keep my breakfast down. This is the first time that I have ever been thankful that an excursion had ended. It's too bad; it could have been so much nicer if the passengers comfort had been taken into consideration. The next port was Ensenada, Mexico. We took the La Bufadora Adventure and City Driven through Princess. We saw some nice countryside and had many interesting things pointed out to us by our guide. We were finally taken to the "Blowhole" but had to run the gauntlet through the vendors in town to get to the sightseeing place. Once I took the video of this spot we had to run the gauntlet again. Some of those attempting to sell things were polite, some were not, and it was the only negative thing about this tour. We did find a pleasant gal at a shop there and bought some shirts from her. We then went back into the city and were given a tour of a building by our guide; it was another nice photo opportunity. The next morning, April 1st, we were back in LA and unfortunately we had to leave the ship. We were assigned to be at a lounge at 8:40 AM. While waiting there we were called at 8:55 AM and were led off the ship to the customs agents, we cleared there and then we located our luggage, located a porter and went to the curb where the Double Tree van was waiting for us (can you believe that?). Our luggage was loaded into the van and we were inside the van by 9:25 AM, again, outstanding. We were taken back to our car, the luggage was loaded inside and we were driving towards the expressway by 9:50 AM. Who would have thought that they could do this so quick and efficiently? We were very impressed as we have never seen anything like this in the past. Our cabin steward was Monchai, we tried to not request too many things, but when we did he was quick and efficient. We were often coming and going from one activity on the ship to another and would be returning to our cabin, then leaving again. He always managed to get in there and clean the place up and get out before we would get back. He was a pleasure and we were very happy with the service that he provided. Once assigned to the International Dining Room we had Ali as our waiter, and Ruben as the assistant waiter. They were very good, they worked well together and we were able to get them to join us in our jocularity. They were much fun and they would get us anything that was requested immediately. I am not particularly picky about food, sometimes I had difficulty trying to pick out which dinner option that I would like the most, but I very much enjoyed each thing that I had for dinner. Then it was always followed up by terrific desert offerings. I was totally pleased with the food in the dining room and in the buffet as well. The variety, the quality and the staff were all terrific. The only thing that I can think of that I would change is the bedding. We had ordered the egg crate mattress cover prior to boarding. It was in place when we got there but the mattress was still too firm for both of us. I frequently woke up after about 4 hours of sleep with an ache in my shoulder and or my hip. Nothing that I did seemed to help. What we use at home is an air inflatable mattress that can be inflated to a different level of firmness on each side of the bed. I have no aches or pains in the morning at home. My suggestion to Princess is to enter into a contract with that mattress company and install them on the ship. Then if passengers like them, have an agreement set up where that mattress could be ordered through the cruiseline and once the folks arrive home, they could set up an appointment with the local franchise dealer to have it delivered and installed. Not only would Princess have a better satisfied passenger due to a better nights sleep, but they would have another profit making line to sell and improve their bottom line. I wonder if they read these things, hmm. Kathy and I noticed that every member of the crew was always pleasant, whether it be those in food service, stewards, bartenders, game MC's, Officer's, electricians, just everybody. They were just as helpful and pleasant as they could be, I'm sure that many of us have relatives that could learn something from these folks. After having waited so long to go to Hawaii, I must say that those on the Diamond Princess met, and often exceeded, our expectations. It was a great cruise and has provided us with a wonderful collection of memories to remember for a lifetime. Randy Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
For many years we have wanted to do a cruise to Hawaii. DH has previously flown to Honolulu, cruised the islands and then to Ensenada with a bus trip back to LAX and didn't wax all that poetic about the experience. This left me none ... Read More
For many years we have wanted to do a cruise to Hawaii. DH has previously flown to Honolulu, cruised the islands and then to Ensenada with a bus trip back to LAX and didn't wax all that poetic about the experience. This left me none too enthusiastic about it being my "ideal Hawaiian cruise vacation". Several months ago a neighbor mentioned round-trip cruises from LA to Hawaii so I thought I'd check into it. Our phenomenal TA (thru whom we've booked all our cruises) provided several options and we decided Princess was the best fit for us. We live approximately 1 hour north of the Los Angeles/San Pedro harbor so we didn't have any significant travel to the embarkation port... and no hotel-stay was necessary. Our TA had completed all of our registration paperwork ahead of time and when we received our pre-travel paperwork in the mail from Princess, we were pleased to find everything was accurate. We logged on and selected our shore excursions prior to the cut-off date but were disappointed some were already sold out (that'll teach us to do this far ahead of time from now on!!). A few days after the cut-off date I called Princess directly and they were fantastic about allowing us to add one more excursion that was still available. Although the paperwork said to arrive after 1pm for quicker check-in, the traffic that morning was rather light and we made it to the pier by noon. Parking was effortless, though at $12/day it's ridiculously expensive for a 15 day cruise... admitted other options such as taxi or shuttle were priced just about the same so we felt it was 6-of-1... ½-dozen-of-another. We considered having a friend drop us off and pick us up but departing on a Monday in the middle of a workday and returning on a Tuesday morning, well, that knocked out that option as well. So okay, we sucked it up and decided to just pay for parking. Getting thru the check in lines was an absolute breeze with all the Princess employees being courteous, efficient and professional. There were two separate lines for taking the embarkation photo and because we were told the backgrounds were the same in each photo-station, we selected the shorter line. Later while we were onboard we were disappointed to see the backgrounds were definitely not the same. At any rate, the embarkation process was a breeze (especially when compared to our most recent experience with Carnival at the Long Beach pier) and by 12:30 we were in our stateroom depositing our carry-on items. Our balcony stateroom was on the port side of the Lido deck... the fourth cabin from the bridge. This was an excellent location that we would most certainly select again. Our checked luggage arrived within 2-3hrs of the sailing time and we were pleased to find we could unpack everything quite easily with nothing crammed in an unsuitable space. The cabin was rather standard insofar as tv, mini-fridge, desk w/chair, phone, lamps, closet w/hangers that weren't permanently attached to the bar (yay!!), full length mirror, safe and a comfortable sitting chair. The bathroom had suitable shelf space along with a long shelf under the sink that came in very handy for storing additional items. The shower of course was ridiculously small... as one of the comedians put it "do they actually HAVE a template of an adult human being before they design those???"... but we managed. Anyone larger than we are would definitely feel unsuitably cramped and most likely unable to turn around. The balcony itself was on the smaller side but the presence of a sliding door made a big difference. There were two small plastic chairs and a very small table suitable only for coffee mugs really. But no matter, we love having a balcony and enjoy it every day and every evening of our cruises. Our stateroom was directly below the spa/fitness center though we never had any noise issues at all. The Diamond Princess is a lovely ship. The atrium area is nicely appointed with spacious sitting areas and bars on each level. The decks are open, airy and never once did we feel overly cramped even on a sunny day with seemingly everyone out at once laying in the sun. The theater is not extremely large but feels comfortable. Club Fusion is very accommodating whether you're there to bust-a-move on the large dance floor, sit and listen to the music or grab a drink from the bar. Explorer's lounge is comfortable however if you're there to see a show, be sure to arrive early since if you end up sitting back near the bar it can be very noisy and difficult to hear what's happening on stage. The Wheelhouse is great for listening to live music or having a quiet conversation but truly awful for trivia contests. For some reason the acoustics stinks and unless your trivia host is energetic and walks around to ensure all can hear, you'll definitely have to strain to know what's going on. This ship was extremely clean. C-L-E-A-N. Perhaps they take possible Norovirus outbreaks very seriously or perhaps they had a recent one when we sailed but hand-sanitizer is everywhere... and guests are encouraged to use it... often. We had no problem with this... in fact, we were pleased to see it. We take advantage of Fixed-Seating dinner and were assigned a nice table by the window in the International Dining room. The food was terrific... great variety and aside from one or two "off" items, preparation and presentation was wonderful. Portion size did seem to vary quite a bit from plate to plate. On the two nights they offered Prime Rib at least one person at our table would receive a slice of beef overflowing the plate while the rest seemed more appropriate in size. The shrimp cocktail was disappointing with respect to aesthetics and size but tasted good. The pasta dishes were flavorful, chicken and pork done properly but the beef was somewhat overdone though not so much so that we had to send anything back. Tip... whatever level of doneness you normally request, order one level down and you'll be happier. Typically each night there was at least one pasta, one fowl, one beef and one fish entrEe selection along with a vegetarian option. DH reports the chilled soups were always excellent! The desserts were very good without fail... honorable mention going to the layered napoleon which was outstanding. The soufflEs were also worth mentioning. We were seated at a table for 10... it turned out we were 5 couples, all married. It was the largest table DH and I have been assigned in all our years of cruising and we're pleased to report it was the best table we've been assigned in all our years of cruising. We can honestly say our tablemates were so enjoyable that we always looked forward to dining with them and seeing them throughout the day either on ship or in port. One couple in particular was a true delight and we feel we've made friends that we'll keep for a lifetime. We ate breakfast everyday in the Horizon Court buffet where the food was very consistent, very good and very plentiful. No complaints whatsoever. We often enjoyed the daily noon-ish specialty buffets (Italian trattoria, Oriental, chocolate, pastry, Mexican, etc) that were offered outside of the Horizon Court in the Conservatory area. The afternoon ice-cream buffet was a nice treat along with the daily offering of milk and freshly baked cookies brought around by handcart. At 3:30 we enjoyed afternoon tea in the Pacific Rim dining room where the tea was plentiful, the selection of pastries, cookies and sandwiches very good and the scones w/cream and jam were fantastic! There was a good variety of activities offered each day. I enjoyed the Computers@Sea program where I took classes related to Adobe Photoshop Elements as well as creating videos. Lots of Bingo and trivia were offered along with specialty lectures on a variety of topics and several afternoon and evening movies were shown in the Princess Theater and the Explorer's Lounge. DH and I took ballroom dancing classes with Art and Bonnie Friedman and THOROUGHLY enjoyed them! We highly recommend this to anyone who has ever even thought about learning to dance the waltz, swing, tango, rhumba, cha cha, mambo, merengue etc. This was a true highlight of our trip! We did not have children with us on this cruise so I can't speak to the Children's Activities. The fitness center is rather well equipped. Plenty of cardio equipment but only one stationary bike. Enough machines and free weights too. It's very crowded first thing in the morning so instead we worked out about 2hrs ahead of our dinner time. The one major complaint in this area is the temperature... they need to keep that room a good 10 degrees lower than the rest of the ship... or at least have a lot of fans. Without exception the service was fantastic. Categorically, down the line, all staff that we encountered was exemplary. This has certainly not been the case on all of our cruises and definitely was not the case on our previous cruise with Princess. There are not enough good things to say. Our Waiter (Manuel) and Jr. Waiter (Jomini) in the dining room the best we've EVER had. Always gracious, never made us feel we were imposing, always happy to handle any special requests we had… our bread baskets, water goblets and drink glasses were never empty! Jozef in the Horizon Court buffet was extremely attentive (as were all the other buffet stewards who work such long hours with a smile on their face… I regret I didn't get all of their names). Our cabin steward (Jose) was wonderful and did everything with grace and efficiency. The entertainment was okay. The two comedians were not bad and were definitely professionals that tried hard. The ventriloquist (Willie Tyler & Lester) was alright though certainly no where near he was at the top of his game. The production shows were alright (the lone standout being Piano Man which was VERY good!) however only the lone African American male lead singer could be considered noteworthy (the other male was passable, the blonde female lead struggled with her lower register and the other female lead singer left much to be desired though she gave it her all I'm sure). DH was not impressed with the group Passion though I thought they were quite good. The group Luna was passable but really seemed to be phoning it in. Satin Doll was interesting… a talented male piano player with a female singer who sounds as if she either A) doesn't speak English and is singing it phonetically or B) has complete hearing loss which resulted in a significant speech impairment… neither of which is true since she has beautiful English when speaking (just not singing). Entertainer Bayne Bacon was PHENOMENAL! Very humorous, great guitar player, decent vocals and an incredible piano player. That guy's got great talent on the ivories, that's for sure!!! The Princess Orchestra was also extremely good - it's too bad they're kept away for the most part and primarily do the production shows. Considering these guys aren't a band and are all hired individually to fill a specific position, they are top notch!!! We enjoyed listening to them every single time. Of standout mention is the keyboard player Ari who is among the most talented keyboardists I've come across. Kudos!! The four sea days getting from LA to Hilo were rather rough seas. Not terribly so but enough that many of us joked about how much the boat was a rockin! LOL!! We had cold, cloudy weather all the way to Hilo with the exception of our last sea day before arriving in Hilo when that one sea day the sun emerged and seemingly everyone converged in the pool areas! In Hilo we took the Kilauea Bike Tour excursion which DH and I both HIGHLY recommend to anyone who's even remotely physically fit. This is a biking and hiking excursion and our guides were Grant and Steve. Two guys who made this great excursion into a fantastic one! Even though it rained on us… and rained HARD… the excursion was immensely enjoyable. In Kona we just walked around the town, purchased a few souvenirs and enjoyed drinks at The FishHopper bar (Mike, the bartender, is a real treat!!). The weather was very warm, rather humid and the sun gave our shoulders and faces quite a bit of color despite the use of sunblock and wearing hats! If you have a need for personal items during your trip and can wait to get to Kona there's a Wal-Mart within walking distance of the ship (though you do have a significant uphill to battle). In Maui we walked around the town, enjoyed cocktails at the Mai Tai Lounge (which boasts a fantastic view) and purchased a few souvenirs. The weather was again warm, humid and very sunny. In Honolulu we took the Pearl Harbor & City Tour excursion which was handled quite well. We arrived at Pearl Harbor around 8:50am, waited in line for tickets approximately one hour and our tour time wasn't until 1:30pm. Heading back to the bus only one couple had disappeared… and disappear they did. Our fantastic tour guide JR went back to look for them a few times and never found them. After waiting 40 minutes he received clearance from his company to leave them behind. Lesson to be learned… pay attention to what the guide tells you and follow the instructions. We later found out the couple had decided to take a cab back to the ship instead. On the City Tour we went to Pali Lookout, Waikiki Beach and Punchbowl cemetery. JR was great at narrating everything and was extremely enjoyable. After returning to the ship we took a City Bus down to Ala Moana shopping center and then walked to International Marketplace. We got turned around several times and it turned into a VERY long walk. Taking a cab back to the ship I saw just how far we had walked… and walked… and walked. Kauai was extremely beautiful and of all the places we visited on this cruise it is the only one I plan to return to. We did a little shopping and a LOT of walking. I didn't know that chickens outnumber people on the island of Kauai but after all the walking we did, I don't doubt that fact for one moment! If you need any last minute gifts there are shuttles from the ship directly to Hilo Hattie's and Wal-Mart! The four sea days back to the mainland were cold, cloudy and quite windy. That kept us inside most of the time but that was fine since there were activities-a-plenty!! Ensenada is nothing to write about. We stop there only to fulfill the requirements of the Jones Act. Major yawn but I do rave about the quality of Mexican Vanilla Extract and definitely picked up enough to last me a few months or so. Disembarkation could not have been simpler or more efficient. We left the ship at 8:30, by 9am we'd already loaded everything in the car and were on the way home. By 10am we were unloading suitcases with the first load of laundry already started. This was a fantastic vacation! The initial four sea days really allowed us to forget about work and "real life" so we were definitely ready for Hawaii when we got there. And the four sea days back allowed us to relax, unwind and not feel like we'd had a rush-rush vacation leaving us feeling harried and needing a few days to recover before going back to work. Sea days up front… and sea days on the back end… really made this into something that actually felt like a REAL VACATION. And in our estimation it's what we want! Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
My husband and I just got back from our Hawaii cruise this Monday. It was really wonderful. The Diamond Princess is a lovely ship and the staff is very personable and helpful. We had an inside cabin. It was nice, but I think if I am on a ... Read More
My husband and I just got back from our Hawaii cruise this Monday. It was really wonderful. The Diamond Princess is a lovely ship and the staff is very personable and helpful. We had an inside cabin. It was nice, but I think if I am on a ship for more 7 days I will get one with a window or balcony. The sea days are filled with a wide choice of activities from classes to lectures to demonstrations. Or you can do nothing at all! We ate in all three of the open seating dining rooms and were very pleased with the food and service. Crisell in the Savoy Dining Room is especially nice. We did have a bout with the Norovirus two days out, but the response was swift and thorough. As a result, it only affected about 22 passengers (35 crew!) and the Captain kept us very well informed at all times. Ports were great. We only did two excursions as we have been to the islands many times. Molokini Whale Watch and Snorkel was awesome - dozens of whales doing all sorts of acrobatics. Be prepared to stand in a long line in Lahaina to take the tender back. It can be very hot there, so have water with you. Apparently the port access and security is very tightly controlled by the local authorities and it can take up to 1 1/2 hours to get through it. We also did the USS Arizona/Missouri tour in Honolulu. Some confusion and misinformation about what could be taken on the bus. You can leave stuff on the bus at the Arizona, but must put it in lockers before going to the Missouri. Otherwise, excellent tour. The other ports we did our own thing by going snorkeling - we brought our own gear. We also had an incredible view of the lava flowing into the ocean on the Big Island - worth staying up til 1AM. Entertainment was very good. The shows are excellent, especially the final one. The comedians are hysterical, no dirty stuff. We danced every night at the Wheelhouse with Elke Robitaille Duo, but they have left the ship and I don't know who replaced them. Seas were rocky at times - I wore those wrist band things and never had any problem at all. Embarkation was done very quickly and easily. Disembarkation was also done well. I understand there have been problems in the past with this port, but Princess seems to have worked it out as well as could be expected for a government process. The immigration check line was long, and since it is done on the ship, people are wandering all over. But the line kept moving and we got through it in about 20 minutes. Then we waited in the lounge until called. We were off the ship at almost exactly the time given on our instructions. Be aware that Princess is changing the itinerary on this trip next fall. Kona will no longer be a stop and the trip will be 14 days. Sad - Kona is a such a great stop. But somebody said that a petition of some sort is being done to appeal that decision, so maybe they will reconsider. Also the uproar about enforcing a 48 hours foreign port stay under the dreaded Jones Act may affect this trip. If you are considering doing a Hawaii cruise, I recommend you do it soon because if they do lower the boom, the only one cruising the islands will be NCL. You will have to fly over and back to do it (no lovely sea days!) and I have not heard good things about that particular cruise. Whether you have been to the islands many times or never before, this is a great way to see them and a very nice cruise to do it. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
Our 13th cruise, second time on Diamond Princess, previous cruises with Cunard (3), Disney (3), Celebrity, Holland America (2), Royal Caribbean (2). Travelling with two kids, 12 and 15 years old. Flew into LAX day early. We rented a car ... Read More
Our 13th cruise, second time on Diamond Princess, previous cruises with Cunard (3), Disney (3), Celebrity, Holland America (2), Royal Caribbean (2). Travelling with two kids, 12 and 15 years old. Flew into LAX day early. We rented a car from Enterprise as they had good rates despite the $25 drop off fee. They are the only car rental agency in San Pedro, besides the Crowne Plaza Hotel with a free shuttle in 5 minutes to port. You can rent from others such as Hertz but it's about a $25 taxi ride from nearby Lomita or Long Beach. We stayed at the airport as hotel prices in San Pedro for higher end hotels were $200+. There are lower cost alternatives in the area. Try to get to the port early, preferably the day before, because if you miss the sailing due to flight delays or whatever, it's a hefty cost to fly out to Maui and stay for four days in a hotel somewhere before you meet the ship again. As a minimum, consider travel insurance as there were a number of people who missed the sailing out of LA. Check in was OK. No problems. Inside cabin was fairly small, probably one of the smallest we have had so far. Seas were fairly rough for a day or two going both east and westbound for the one way journey covering four days. Princess should insist that all passengers use hand sanitizer gel from the time we get on. By day 2, the number of Norovirus gastrointestinal cases had increased to the point that an extensive sanitation program had to be implemented and the problem didn't clear until about day 8. Service levels dropped as staff were at all buffet, water and coffee stations, so that was the end of serving yourself. Some would say service improved because they even brought the cream and poured it into your coffee or tea, or brought the salt and pepper for your food, and then took it away. Ports were good. Only three more 15 day cruises to Hawaii before the Sapphire moves to 14 day schedules, making it easier to leave and arrive on the same weekend day. Kona will be dropped as a port. First port: Lahaina, Maui. We had been to Maui before so spent the day on the beach at Ka'anapali. Go to the Black Rock for great snorkeling at the beach by the Sheraton at no cost. The kids loved it. You can rent equipment from the shack at the Sheraton. We used Maui Transit for $1 per person. See schedules for the island bus service at http://www.co.maui.hi.us/bus/. We went back to Lahaina for lunch. Lots of whales around so see these when you sail in or out of port at no cost. If you want a closer look at the whales, go to the website of the non-profit Pacific Whale Foundation with more whale experts (http://www.pacificwhale.org/ecotours/tours.php?catid=96) at a cost of $31 although the ship's whale tour is only $39. Second port: Nawiliwili, Kauai. No public transport so we rented a car. Most major rental companies will come pick up at port. We drove out to Waimea Canyon and continued north to Kalalau Lookout to get a glimpse of the Na Pali cliffs. Leave about 2 hours for the one way drive through the winding canyon roads so be careful about time management as you don't want to miss the sailing. If we had to do it over, we would probably take the bus tour and let them do the driving. Third port: Honolulu. Public transit really good at $2 for adults and $1 for children and seniors. We took bus #20, at http://www.thebus.org/, from the port up to Pearl Harbour. Free tour of USS Arizona Memorial but leave about 3 hours. Pay extra for USS Missouri or USS Bowfin sub. Get a transfer for the bus as it allows you about 2 hours for the journey and an additional 2 hours afterwards. We then took the kids to Waikiki Beach area for lunch and then to the Waikiki Aquarium close to Diamond Head. Then shopping at Ala Moana Centre and bus #19 or 20 back to ship for supper. Start early if you want to be finished by about 7 pm. Bus also gives you good free tour of the downtown Honolulu area, including Chinatown and Iolani Palace. Fourth port: Kona. No public transit so we rented a convertible. Went out to Island Lava Java on 75-5799 Alii Drive, a few blocks from the tender dock, for the mega cinnamon buns and a cup of Kona coffee overlooking the ocean and the ship. If you rent a car, go to Enterprise or Dollar as they are in the city location less than a mile from the tenders. Otherwise, the shuttle will take you out to the airport which is 8 miles north on the busy road. Not really efficient if you want to go south. We went to the Royal Kona Coffee plantation on Hwy 11, about 30 minutes south, then to Puuhonua O Honaunau National Park, also called the "Place of refuge". Then north to Kealakekua Bay, also called the "Pathway of the Gods" for beach and snorkeling. The day passed quickly. Viewing of Lava Flow at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, enroute to Hilo from Kona. Depending on weather conditions, you could start to see the red glow of the lava at about 11 pm. We did not see anything until about 1 am. Specks of red as the lava flowed into the ocean, with steam. Nothing spectacular and actually disappointing for most of us who stayed up. Would have liked to be closer. Take your binoculars. Fifth port: Hilo. No public transit so we rented a car. Less than 5 minutes to airport by free shuttle and most car rental firms. We drove to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Most of the 11 mile long Crater Rim Drive was closed due to dangerously high levels of sulphur dioxide which is bad for most people, worse if you have respiratory problems. Some parts open so we did see the Kilauea Volcano and the Thurston Lava Tube. Then stopped in at Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo, Stainback Highway, at no cost as it's operated by the State government. Kids loved it. Then to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory, with a quarter million macadamia nut trees. The day passed really quickly. Don't miss the sailing as it's a long way and a huge cost back to LA. Sixth port: Ensenada, Mexico for the mandatory foreign port. Skip this one. We walked downtown. Gave $1 bills to all the little kids as young as 3 years old selling gum stopping us along the way. Got back to the ship as quickly as we could. Food: We loved the variety and quantity of food. Particularly liked the various delicacies such as buffalo, venison deer, frog legs, rabbit, and pheasant, along with two nights for lobster tail, Alaska king crab legs, various cuts of meat, fish and pasta. Don't like the one hour of ice cream from 3:30 to 4:30 pm each day and having to buy it for the rest of the cruise, unless it's on the menu at meal time. Entertainment: Fairly good. Various acts including four Broadway shows such as I Got the Music, Do You Wanna Dance, Undercover with Austin Powers and James Bond music, Piano Man featuring the music of Billy Joel, Neil Sedaka, Liberace, Manilow and Elton John. The Haula Hula Olana Folkloric Show came on in Honolulu before we sailed at 11 pm. My son spend a lot of time with the kids club. Lots of activities and PS2. Disembarkation was fairly quick and smooth. All in all, a great cruise for the money. Would have like to spend more time in some of the Hawaiian ports and only spent an hour in Ensenada as a service call to meet the obligations of Jones Act which states that any foreign flagged vessel originating in the US must visit a foreign port. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
Diamond Princess - Hawaii Cruise - March 2-17, 2008 The Port of Los Angeles is actually in nearby San Pedro. Long Beach is the nearest airport, but most people fly into LAX because there are more flight options. All Princess transfers ... Read More
Diamond Princess - Hawaii Cruise - March 2-17, 2008 The Port of Los Angeles is actually in nearby San Pedro. Long Beach is the nearest airport, but most people fly into LAX because there are more flight options. All Princess transfers assume that passengers will use LAX, but we made our own air transportation arrangements and chose to fly into Long Beach one day in advance. We stayed at the Hilton and used taxis for local transportation. We arrived shortly after noon and boarding the ship went very smoothly. I had been online and filled out all of the necessary paperwork in advance including our shore excursions. Some of the popular shore excursions were already full before the ship even left port. Our stateroom was ready immediately and our luggage was in our room after a few hours. We met our cabin steward and he provided great service during the entire cruise. My only complaint is that my online requests were ignored (robes and fresh fruit in the room). Our cabin steward delivered robes on the first day after I asked him. Our outside balcony stateroom (Category BE) was small, but efficiently designed. We were able to completely unpack all of our things and store our suitcases under the bed. Our balcony was fairly private but others were more exposed. At night, we would usually leave the balcony door open so that we could hear the sounds of the ship and the ocean. Despite the size of the ship, the ocean felt a little rougher than I expected. We could feel the motion of the ship. I enjoyed that while I was sleeping and the waves in the swimming pool were a lot of fun, but I felt a little unsteady on my feet a few times. After a few days, it seemed to calm down a little. It was even rougher on most of the return trip though. During the trip over, the Captain announced that we were having a Norovirus outbreak on the ship. They were already taking a lot of precautions but you could see that those precautions were stepped up throughout the ship. For example, you couldn't serve yourself anything at the buffet. The servers would ask what you wanted and put it on your plate for you. In the dining room, there were no salt shakers on the table. If you wanted salt, you asked for it and your waiter would salt your food for you. This really wasn't a problem because the service was great and neither of us had any health problems. We had a traditional late dinner eating (8:00 PM) at a table for 10. We deliberately chose a large table because we like to meet new people, but this was probably too big. A table for 6 or 8 would have been better. Our waiter provided great service during the entire cruise. We ate all of our dinners in the traditional dining room. About half of our other meals were in the dining room and half were on the Lido deck. I would classify the food in the dining room as "good" and the food at the Lido buffet as "fair". Generally, my experience has been that the food and service are both better in the dining room. The advantages of eating on the Lido deck are that it doesn't take as long, it has a view, and you can eat whenever you want. Having said that, the made-to-order omelettes at the Lido Grill were outstanding. We went to most of the shows in the Princess Theater. The comedian on the first night was a disappointment, but we enjoyed the shows that featured the Diamond Princess singers and dancers. In addition to being very expensive, Internet access was unusually slow on this trip. I think that's because we're so far from major population centers that the satellites don't provide good coverage. We also lost some of the TV stations in our stateroom at times (CNN, Headline News, Fox News, ESPN). Port 1 - Maui - Lahaina Our first stop was at Maui near the town of Lahaina. The two most memorable things about this stop were: Tenders - We did not dock at this port. Instead we anchored just off the coast and tenders shuttled people to and from the shore. It was a disaster! They were not able to process the people in a timely manner. We had to wait in line for over an hour to get off the ship. It took another hour and half from the time that we got in the tender line to get back on the ship. Most of that time was spent waiting in the hot sun. Some people had to be taken to the hospital in ambulances. The Princess Captain apologized afterward, but our tour bus driver told us that it happens every time. Whales - Humpback whales were everywhere. They surrounded our ship and were clearly visible jumping out of the water virtually the entire time that we were anchored. Humpbacks migrate back and forth between Alaska (summer) and Hawaii (winter). In Maui, we took a bus tour arranged by Princess. It went to the Maui Tropical Plantation and the Iao Valley. The Iao Valley is the valley between the two mountains on Maui. That's where King Kamehameha won the big battle for the island. It was very scenic; both lush and rugged. Still, we regretted our choice. I think that we would have preferred going to see the Haleakala Crater. One interesting thing in Lahaina was the giant Banyan Tree near the courthouse where we tendered. It's the largest Banyan Tree in the state of Hawaii. Port 2 - Kauai - Nawiliwili Harbor near Lihue In Kauai, the ship docked. We got off the ship early and caught one of the Alamo shuttles to the Lihue Airport where we had a rental car reserved. That process went very smoothly and turned out to be a great idea. From Lihue, we drove west to the Waimea Canyon. It was a spectacular view from the lookout. From there, we continued driving to the lookout for the Na Pali coast for another spectacular view. The view is a rugged coastline on the northwest side of Kauai. The cliffs and water were beautiful. We could look down and see boats and helicopters making the tour. We arrived at this viewpoint just in time. After a few minutes, clouds rolled in and you really couldn't see very much. After driving back down from the mountains, we drove to Poipu Beach Park and waded in the water for a few minutes. From there, we drove to the Hyatt Resort near Poipu Beach. It was very impressive. Port 3 - Oahu - Honolulu We had a pre-arranged "Little Circle" tour arranged in Honolulu by Princess. It covered the southeast section of the island of Oahu. We went through Waikiki and past some expensive homes in the Diamond Head area before stopping at the Hanauma Bay viewpoint on the southeast side of the island. From there, we drove up the coast to another viewpoint ("From Here to Eternity" beach) and circled back to Honolulu along the Pali Highway with a stop at Pali Lookout. We had quite a bit of time in Oahu, so after going back on the ship for lunch, we decided to do more touring. Public buses ran by the pier on Ala Moana Blvd, so we hopped on a $2 bus and took it to Waikiki rather than paying $14 plus tip for a taxi. I'm not sure this was a good idea. The ride was slow and uncomfortable because I had to stand the entire time. Most of our Waikiki time was spent shopping at International Village, walking the beach, and checking out the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Since we still had a lot of time, we made the long walk (>3 miles) back to the cruise ship near the Aloha Tower. That was our exercise for the day! I wouldn't recommend it for most people. Port 4 - Big Island - Kailua-Kona Kailua-Kona was also a tender stop where the ship anchored and we had to take tenders. Unlike Maui, this went very smoothly. I think that there was room at the pier to operate many more tenders simultaneously. The King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel is located at the pier. We had a Dollar rental car pre-arranged there and were on our way very quickly. Dollar shares a desk with Thrifty car rental so you can arrange a car with either company at the hotel. The rental desk closes at Noon, but you can park the car and drop off the keys and rental agreement in a secure box before returning to the ship. Our first stop was the Hilton Waikoloa Village about 30 minutes north of Kailua. It was the most spectacular resort that I've ever seen. The beach itself was not particularly good for bathing (lots of rugged black lava rock rather than sand), but it was beautiful. The resort made up for the lack of a swimming beach with the biggest and most complex swimming pool that I've ever seen. It was full of waterfalls, bridges, and tunnels. There was an even larger salt water pool with a sandy bottom. They seemed to have dolphin shows in a portion of the salt water pool and we watched some of the employees feed the dolphins. Our next stop was Hapuna Beach State Park. It's advertised as the best sandy beach on the Big Island. That's really not much of a boast since there aren't a lot of sandy beaches on the Big Island, but we were still very impressed. We parked our rental car at the public beach and went for a walk with our feet in the water. It was very pleasant. The only hotel nearby was the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. We didn't go up to see it, but it looked very nice. Our next stop was the Halualai Golf Club at a Four Seasons Resort. That's the site of a Champions Tour Golf Tournament that we've seen on TV. Much to our surprise, this hotel was more than twice as expensive as the Hilton Waikoloa (about $600 vs $250). Port 5 - Big Island - Hilo Kailua is on the west side of the Big Island and Hilo is on the east side. Normally, the cruise ship will sail around the north side of the island because it's slightly shorter. Our Captain decided to take the southern route instead because Kilauea was erupting and we'd have a chance to see the lava from the sea. That happened about 1:00 AM during the early morning hours. We were a few miles off shore, but we could see the orange glow of lava coming down the mountainside from our balcony. Steam was visible rising from the ocean at the shoreline. At the Hilo dock, we were met by a friend of ours who lives near Hilo. After a quick tour of Hilo (Rainbow Falls), we drove up to the National Park. Parts of the Park were closed due to active lava flows, but we were able to look into Kilauea's Caldera and see all of the venting. After that, we went to see the Kilauea Iki Crater that erupted in 1959. Currently, the lava flows are not coming from those areas. The lava is coming out of rifts on the side of Kilauea rather than the actual caldera. One interesting walk that we took was through the Thurston Lava Tube. This is an underground cave where lava used to flow. It was cool and wet. Fortunately, lights had been installed in the section where we walked so we were able to see where we were going. After seeing the calderas and the lava tube, we drove down a mountain road towards the ocean and saw all of the newly formed land. It was very pretty and unlike anything that we'd ever seen before (except perhaps in Kona At Hilo, it was clear enough at times to see the two mountains Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. Both are over 13000'. They were surprisingly unimpressive. Mauna Loa just looked like a big rounded hilltop. If I hadn't known that it was over 13000', I would probably have guessed that it was only 7000' or so. Mauna Kea was just a little more jagged and I could see a small amount of snow on top. Return trip to Ensenada/Los Angeles The Norovirus precautions were relaxed and the Captain announced that the outbreak was under control. Port 6 - Ensenada Ensenada is located on the Mexican coast about 70 miles south of San Diego. This was our last stop before returning to Los Angeles. Our stay was very brief. The cruise line really only stops here to satisfy the legal requirements of the Jones Act. (Non-US flagged cruise ships must stop in at least one foreign port.) We got off the ship briefly and walked through town. Disembarkation in Los Angeles went smoothly. There was a very long line to clear immigration coming from Club Fusion but it moved quickly. From there, we went back to our cabin to pick up our hand luggage and proceeded to the Princess Theater to wait for our turn to disembark. They didn't really direct people very well with regard to where to go to disembark the ship but we were able to figure it out. We quickly found our bags and a taxi to the Long Beach Airport. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
My DW and I booked the March 17, 2008 cruise through our TA in Dec. 2006 which gave us 15 months of anticipation. In July we had done Alaska on Holland America's Volendam and were very pleased. We chose Princess for this cruise ... Read More
My DW and I booked the March 17, 2008 cruise through our TA in Dec. 2006 which gave us 15 months of anticipation. In July we had done Alaska on Holland America's Volendam and were very pleased. We chose Princess for this cruise because a friend said it was better than HA and it left from Los Angeles which meant less hassle w/ our luggage AND we could take our golf clubs. We had a fantastic cruise from embarkation to disembarkation, both very efficient and stress free. Although we live on the most north-west end of LA it only took us 40 minutes to get to the Princess dock on the south end. The cruise was off to a great beginning. We ate at "Anytime Dining" as we liked the flexibility it allowed us. We ate at each of the dining rooms at least twice, except for only once at Pacific Moon, but preferred the ambience of the Savoy with the Santa Fe second because we did not want guacamole dip every night, but the fajitas were delicious. We also liked the Vivaldi but they did not have "Anytime Dining" until 8:00. My DW really liked the Osso Buco there. We ate at both Sterling's steakhouse and Sabatini's thanks to our great TA Margie (Montrose Travel). Actually we ate at each of these twice because the first time was so good. We were a bit apprehensive about Sabatini's because of reviews we had read on the CC board but we discovered they serve only what you want and as little or as much as you want. I discovered I like calamari - a lot. The service in all the restaurants was excellent, courteous and efficient. We did not feel we lost any quality in service because of our varied attendance. The food was always delicious and the veal chop my DW had on the return was the best she had ever had - a sentiment shared by others we talked to who had ordered it. The food was so good and varied my DW, who I fancy is a gourmet cook, bought the DP cook book and felt it was a bargain at $28. And it includes the fantastic papaya-brie quesadilla that Sterling served and many of the chilled soups we tried occasionally and found to be very good. AND the prices for a bottle of wine in the restaurants are very reasonable. We attended both wine tastings: the first for $9 each that featured lesser quality wines but good. The second on the return trip for $25 each that featured premium wines; these wines were very good and the explanations were adequate. On the HA trip we attended the premium wine tasting only but we received an excellent lesson on wine tasting, where to taste wines in your mouth, how to check for acidity, pairing wine and food,...On the DP an attempt was made at teaching but it paled in comparison. The Sanctuary Spa has to be the most over-rated area of the ship. Free access was included as an amenity with our premium suite and others could pay to use it (supposedly the fee reduces the number of passengers using the facility) - however one could just walk into the "sanctuary" as no one ever checked and the door did not require a special key as on the HA. The reason for such a lax policy may be that the sanctuary simply was not worth any extra expenditure. The only extra amenities available were 5 heated tile lounges (only three worked) that were placed at radial angles to each other with the feet about 6 inches apart - very conducive to inadvertently falling on your neighbor - and a warm (not hot) room with tiled benches. My DW enjoyed this warm room after her massage. There are also steam rooms in the sanctuary but there are steam baths and dry heat sauna in each of the men's and women's locker rooms available to everyone gratis. On the HAV the equivalent of the Sanctuary would be the Thermal Spa but costs extra regardless of cabin selection but for your money you receive a true sanctuary: a hot tub spa with a forward view out of expansive windows, five working heated tile lounges and the steam rooms. This was worth the extra money. Unfortunately for us we didn't attend very much of the entertainment provided but we constantly heard about the great show we had missed. Especially the "Piano Man" show. We did get to see Bobby Brooks Hamilton who was advertised as imitating Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson among others. When he walked on stage I said to my DW that he looks just like Jackie Wilson. And during the show he tells the audience that Jackie Wilson was his father! Wow. He did incredible imitations of Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Little Richard (wig and all) and others. We also attended the International Crew Talent Show hosted by Dan, the Cruise Director. We listened to some very talented crew members sing, some cute skits and the absolutely hilarious "If I Were Not Upon The Sea" number performed by the cruise director and his staff. It was announced as being PG-13. Which brings me to a point about comedians on ships. Can't they be provided with a show time that is announced as adults only? It is painful to watch comedians have to try to adjust their material to be "PC." It isn't funny anymore. I might add that the band, Elua, that played by one of the pools every afternoon was just excellent. Their selection of music, while eclectic, matched the ambience perfectly. As mentioned every staff person we came into contact was courteous and pleasant. Our cabin attendant, Salvador, from Philippines, was so efficient we never saw him in our room but it was always clean and prepared. Maybe he just told us he was our cabin steward. We discovered Churchill's Lounge and the Wake View bar as you could smoke cigars here. In both bars we met the nicest bartenders: Zuzana from Slovakia, Sitapa and Manat from Thailand. They knew our favorite drinks and shared with us many aspects of their daily lives and life aboard ship. My wife mentioned they should have snacks available in their bars and from the next day on those little pretzel-like snacks were available. They were simply wonderful and we will miss them! The DW commented near the end of our cruise that one thing she liked more about the DP than HAV was the variety of foreign employees. The DP did have employees from all over Europe and South America, as well as Thailand and the Philippines. Before I forget do not miss "The Morning Zoo" on the DP in-house television station. It is on every morning and is hosted by Dan, the Cruise Director, who is ably assisted by Andre. The show is hilarious and a great way to start your day. Dan and his staff do a fantastic job hosting many, many activities throughout the day. My DW was very sorry she did not discover how much fun the horse races were until the last day of racing. It is impossible for me to believe there are people who have written that there was nothing to do on board. They must not have opened their cabin doors. Some people we met seemed intent on finding everything they could possibly find wrong with their cruise. A number of people began conversations with "the Princess services used to..." I think this was their main activity everyday. Our big excursion was to be the helicopter flight which was described in the brochure as taking "you over the Earth's most geologically active environment in the world - the Kilauea Volcano." To our disappointment we didn't fly over the volcano, never came close, never saw it. Our pilot did say that they stay away from sulphur dioxide fumes but never said that we wouldn't go over the volcano for this reason, never even said, "there it is, over there." We still had an enjoyable flight flying over the lava fields and spotting whales breaching. And our pilot was very informative as to what we were seeing. On Maui we took the tour to the Haleakala Crater, with lunch at a lavender farm, a stop at a wine tasting room and a goat farm to taste goat cheese. We booked this mainly because we like wine and cheese but the whole day turned out to be a great decision on my part, (again). Our driver, in the luxury limo-van, was "Pono" who shared his vast geopolitical knowledge with us and made the whole day interesting. The drive up to the crater gave us magnificent views and a great perspective of the island. The lavender farm was a beautiful place to have lunch, prepared and presented by our driver. The wine tasting was reasonable and my wife bought a bottle of pineapple wine after tasting it. The goat farm was very interesting as we got a tour of the operations as well as the history of the farm, followed by some cheese tasting. And we bought some cheese. Did I mention we bought some lavender soap at the lavender farm? Our other shore excursions were all golf, On Kona (Kona Country Club), in Honolulu (the Ko'olau Golf Club) and in Nawiliwili (Kauai Lagoons). We really liked the Kauai Lagoons' course and plan to return there; the Ko'olau course was memorable because of the mountains jutting straight up nearby and it was literally and obviously carved out of the jungle - toughest course in the USA. The Kona course was spectacular when we are on the ocean but just another golf course inland. We also discovered the Cruise Critic Roll Call Board and enjoyed meeting many very nice interesting people on the board and then on the ship at M&Gs. It was an added bonus to be able to walk around the ship and bump into people you knew and share tidbits. Princess Links must be there as a joke. It is impossible to sink a putt on that putting course even when the ship was in port and tied up. No putting green in the world looks like the rolling hills of West Virginia. Princess, take it out and put in a level putting green. Please. We had a fantastic trip except for one major problem: our balcony. We booked a premium suite C755 and Princess failed to tell us that the view through the bedroom slider was obstructed by a 2 1/2 ft. support strut. Worse the base of the strut and its placement 3 ft. in from the side and half way between the railing and the slider effectively reduced by half the useful part of our balcony. We visited friends in a Vista Suite, D739, which cost less, had the same floor plan and a balcony that was twice as deep, just as wide and with the strut placed in a much less obtrusive position at the side of the deck. Do the math: they had four times the balcony space! To use our balcony we had to move the chair around the table when we came outside because the space was reduced so much. I believe all premium suites on the aft portion of the ship have narrower than expected decks. And finally if Princess had notified us that the dry cleaning machine wasn't working (hadn't been for the entire previous cruise and wouldn't be for two more cruises) we could have adjusted our packing. I'm pretty sure they have my e-mail address as I get an advertisement from them everyday. In short, be aware of the wine testing' shortcomings, don't pay for the Sanctuary Spa, and don't pay for a Premium Suite - get a Vista Suite for less. Watch "The Morning Zoo." Say "Hi" for us to Zuzana, Manat, and Sitapa. We had a great time! Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
Hello: My Dh and myself can not say enough about our trip. I have never been so happy with something. We arrived the nite before sailing and stayed at the Crowne Plaza at the airport. At 10 am we went back to the airport to meet The ... Read More
Hello: My Dh and myself can not say enough about our trip. I have never been so happy with something. We arrived the nite before sailing and stayed at the Crowne Plaza at the airport. At 10 am we went back to the airport to meet The Princess staff to be transferred to the ship. They were there waiting and we left in 10 minutes to the ship. Embarkment was amazing. We were not in any line up and were in our room by 11:15 absolutely wonderful. Luggage arrived one at a time but in a timely manner so was nice. Our cabin was a mini suite. Very nice and roomy. We were on Dolphin deck and it was great just being able to be out there. No covering but that didn't bother us at all it was great. Food on the cruise is to die for. I can honestly say we never had one complaint about any of the food onboard. It was wonderful to be pampered as we were. Our room steward Alan was a sweetheart. Always on the ball and everything was so well taken care of. Such a pleasure and always willing to do whatever we wanted. As we were coming to our room i asked for an egg crate for the bed and feather pillows and they were there immediately. Just great service and tips were given generously as deserved. Over and above the regular bonus. Sea days were great we loved them. Entertainment was wonderful at least for the ones we went to see no complaints at all. Our table mates were very nice and the 6 of us dined every nite together and had a wonderful time and many laughs together. The islands are beautiful and the excursions we went on were great. We took the whale watching tour very nice, wonderful to see such great animals. We took the submarine adventure wow great experience we thoroughly enjoyed it. Also we went on the highlights of hilo. Nice tour and our tour guide was so nice. Couldn't ask for a better guide In honolulu we went to the flea market. WOW if your thinking of going there wear comfy shoes. I have never seen so many outlets in my life and i could only get through maybe not even half. It was great for souvenirs thats for sure. Absolutely anything you wanted was there. Great place. Waters were rough going home soon as we left Hawaii and also cold. Not much to do on deck too windy. But after all the excursions we kind of liked the laid back days going home. Now as far as the ship went I could not have been pleased any more than i was. I believe Princess lives up to all that it describes in its brochures and we were not disappointed in any manor whatsoever. I did have only one thing that i was disappointed in and i do not in any way blame Princess. I had been talking on cruise critic for a few months before my cruise and everyone seemed so very nice and i Couldn't wait to meet them once onboard. A meet was set for the first full day at sea on the Monday and we were all to meet in the horizon court for lunch. Well i must say the people i had been talking to on line were surely different in person. One or two people talked to us for maybe 30 seconds. Then we just were ignored. maybe these people know one another from previously i don't know but it wasn't impressive and i had been looking forward to meeting them. Princess even went and put the meets in the princess patter but we decided not to attend another meet. It was embarrassing to be ignored and my DH didn't want to go through that again. Truly i understand that some know one another but maybe it was because we were not americans i really don't know. But the experience was not what i had looked forward to for so many months. Sorry for venting. But as far as Princess goes we are already getting ready to book again in the near future. Just have to figure out where too as there are so many lovely cruises. Once again THANK YOU SO MUCH PRINCESS we will cruise with your ships anyday. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
We looked forward to our Princess cruise after being away from that line for 7 years. Boarding was efficient and moved quickly. We went immediately to our stateroom which was ready at noon and we were happy with our mini-suite. We then ... Read More
We looked forward to our Princess cruise after being away from that line for 7 years. Boarding was efficient and moved quickly. We went immediately to our stateroom which was ready at noon and we were happy with our mini-suite. We then went to the buffet on the Lido Deck and although we boarded very early it was already crowded! The buffet is set up in a very, very small area and it is difficult to navigate and find what you want. The food was not appetizing but we put that down to a busy day. There was no salt and pepper, or sugar on the table and when we asked a server he found some packets and literally dumped them on the table in front of us. We were told they didn't put out condiments on the table for a couple of days because "people steal them." What?? Salt and pepper shakers and sugar were put on the table on the third day out. The service was sullen at best, but were overlooked it and were sure it would improve the next day. Our next stop was the customer service desk. I get sea sick so I always stop at the desk before we leave to pick up medication. When I requested the pills I was told, rudely, "You have to buy it!!!" Again, What?? We were shocked, but went to the shop as soon as it opened----------to find there was no medication on board! I could buy ginger pills, but I already had them. The first three days were rough and fortunately I had complimentary medication form HAL and RCCL with me to get me through. We asked about a restock once we got to Hawaii, and were again greeted with a rude "NO!" and an implied, "Don't bother us again!" Finally, in Hilo we were told that there was now a supply of sea sick medication on board, but we could not get it because it was locked away and the only person with a key was ashore. My husband requested that they take our name and cabin number and deliver the pills to us. We were told, "Okay, I'll write it down but it won't do any good." What?? We could come back to obtain the medication between 11pm and 6am------ONLY! My husband arose at 5am, dressed, and went to the customer desk. He returned to our stateroom with a packet of of six, chewable,Dramamine, for which he was charged close to $5! Each time we approached the desk we were greeted with rudeness, condescension, and downright nastiness! On the last night I had to go to the desk to reclaim a book I had left in one of the lounges. As you can guess there was a long line-----about 8-10 people-----so I was prepared for a wait. I was NOT prepared for the five people behind the desk to simply leave!!! I was in the line, at position four, for one hour and fifteen minutes! When my turn came I made my request and the person to whom I was talking turned away without a word, picked up the phone and called someone while he opened a drawer and threw my book at me! We were unable to get in the theatre for the first three nights, but when we did get to see a show we were impressed. The production shows were as fine as any we have enjoyed at sea. The Cruise Director, Dave, did an outstanding job with the entertainment and the sea days were filled with fun things to do. All of Cruise staff with whom we interacted were fun with one exception. Brad may well have been the most intelligent person on board, but I really did not enjoy him telling us this at every opportunity. Chill, Brad. We used anytime dining and had no problems. The service in the Pacific Moon and Savoy dining rooms was very good and the supervisors did an excellent job. We dined in the Santa Fe Dining room only once because the service was horrid and slow. There seemed to be no supervision at all in this dining room. The food was mediocre at best and the beef needs to be upgraded. Back to the buffet: The service continued to be sullen and rude. We could recognize the Filipino staff from across the room-------they were the only ones who every smiled! The supervisors were busy flirting with the staff and vice versa and we felt as if we were interrupting their cruise! The guests were certainly at the bottom of the list of priorities. On top of this the food in the Horizon was leftovers and almost inedible. The eggs at breakfast turned to rubber under the hot lights and we never had a satisfying meal in the buffet. We discovered that everything on the Princess Diamond is by request. Fruit, robes, the daily newspaper, salt and pepper, etc. etc. etc. The guests do not seem important to Princess at all. We met a number of people who cruise Princess exclusively and live on the West Coast. They are very loyal, but even they said standards seemed to have fallen. The Diamond Princess is a beautiful ship which we feel needs a complete managerial overhaul! We were bitterly disappointed and will not sail with Princess again and would advise others to avoid this line. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
BACKGROUND: I am a 47 year old female, who cruised with my husband, mother, sister-in-law and brother-in-law. I am a world traveler to include both cruising & various land tours. I grew up traveling & absolutely LOVE IT!! I work so ... Read More
BACKGROUND: I am a 47 year old female, who cruised with my husband, mother, sister-in-law and brother-in-law. I am a world traveler to include both cruising & various land tours. I grew up traveling & absolutely LOVE IT!! I work so I can travel. LOL This cruise was my 4th with Princess and 8th overall. I have also cruised on Carnival & Holland America. Our Port of Embarkation was San Pedro, CA. (Los Angeles). We live in Arizona, so had a very short trip. We booked our own flights via Southwest Airlines. Less than an hour; glass of diet coke & we were there! Nice flight, on time, & no luggage problems. Yeah!! STATEROOM: My husband, mother, & I shared an AC mini suite on the dolphin deck, D704. Great cabin - very clean and well maintained. We chose an aft cabin for the first time and it worked out well. Usually we're mid-ship, but tried aft since it was closer to the food venues (our dining room & the Horizon Court). Our room steward was Nestor and he was great! We asked for robes, & an egg crate to put on the pull out sofa my mother was sleeping on, and he brought them right away. He also offered us our complimentary champagne for having a mini suite and we enjoyed it on our balcony. He kept the room spotless and we never knew exactly when he came in to do it (never 'caught him in the act'). We could be gone just a short amount of time & when we came back the room looked great! Always enough towels, spotless bathroom, & beds either nicely made (morning) or turned down with a chocolate on our pillows (night). SHIP INFO: The Diamond Princess is a beautiful ship! I believe she's one of Princess's larger ships; holds like 2600 + passengers & 1100 + crew! Considering she works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, she's in great shape. Not that they were really noticeable, but if you looked you were able to see the maintenance people scraping, painting, varnishing, etc. I really think Princess tries to maintain their fleet to the best of their ability. The atrium of the Diamond Princess is grand. Lots of glass & marble with the beautiful staircases. A huge 'light fixture', for use of a better term, is on the ceiling in the shape of what I would describe as a flower. Very nice. The casino was one of the larger ship casino's I've seen. There are lots of machines & tables. They even have penny slots! Another nice feature they have is a "non-smoking" area, plus Princess offered a couple of non-smoking nights in the casino. Great idea for those of us who don't partake. DINING: We did not go to the Sterling Steakhouse or Sabatini's, so I can't give my opinion on those. We chose early fixed seating, so our time to dine started at 5:45 pm. Some of my travel companions prefer 'anytime dining', but I specifically chose early seating because I know that the wait staff needs to stay on schedule and get us served & out of the dining room to make room for the 2nd seating. By doing this they are actually getting us out of the dining room in time to get down to the Princess Theatre & get a seat for the show! It worked out great. We usually got done around 7:15/7:30 pm and the show started around 8:15 pm, perfect! Our dinner meals were fabulous. Our head server was Prajong, and his assistant was Abraham. They catered to our every need and were polite and funny, as well as efficient. One night when I couldn't decide which dinner to have Prajong brought me one of each! He also caught on that my husband enjoyed his ice cream.... He only had to order his 'make your own sundae' one time the way he wanted it (which was really a banana split) and Prajong took it from there. Every night he would ask my husband if he wanted a banana split for dessert!! The pizza parlor and hamburger grill near the main pool are great. I'm a big pizza eater, but I have to admit, I really liked the grill. The cheeseburgers were fantastic and so were the hotdogs! The Horizon Court is adequate. It is a buffet, so I guess you can't expect everything to be perfectly warmed/hot. I think that would be my biggest complaint about it. I thought there was a good variety, especially at breakfast. You could have eggs done a couple different ways, sweet rolls, cold cereal, toast/bagels, meat, potatoes, oatmeal, fruit, etc. Offered were 2 kinds of juices, 2 kinds of milk, coffee, tea, etc. I guess if I wanted 'made to order' breakfast or lunch (that would have been hotter) I should have gone to the dining room and ordered it there! We ordered room service a few times and it was always good. Food was warm & it didn't take very long to get to you. I have heard that you can order the evening's dining room food as room service, but never tried this, so not sure if it's true. ACTIVITIES: Princess offers tons of activities! This particular cruise to Hawaii has a lot of sea days, so there needs to be a lot of activities offered. I have seen some recent reviews that have mentioned there were not enough activities going on - I can only ask "What cruise ship were you on?" It couldn't have been the Diamond Princess to Hawaii because I was on it & there were so many activities to choose from that sometimes I missed out on something because it was scheduled at the same time as another activity I wanted to participate in. There were many arts & crafts offered from lei making to making a bookmark; many sports activities that included basketball, shuffleboard, ping pong, golf and mini-golf; lectures on the Hawaiian Islands, Tours of the entire ship, the galley, & the 'backstage' tour of the Princess Theater; ukulele lessons; many different types of quizzes & games; movies in the lounge/theater as well as on your TV. in your stateroom; various dance lessons & competitions, etc. Along with these things there are the ship amenities, as in, the library where there are books & games to check out; the Lotus Spa & the work-out rooms, the pools & jacuzzi's, the bars, the food, the shows, the casino, etc. If you couldn't find something to do it was your own fault! One quick note: Princess has followed Holland America and started a 'Walk on Deck for the Cure'. Everyone is invited to donate $15.00 per person towards breast cancer research. My mother, who is a breast cancer survivor, & my husband & I, gladly participated. The money is added to your room account, so you don't have to come up with cash. We received a baseball cap for our donation and we only walked a few laps around deck 7, but it was officially a 5K if you wanted to walk that far. This is a wonderful opportunity to give to a great charity for the research, & hopefully someday, the cure of breast cancer. Way to go Princess for this great idea!!! Now all you need to do is 'talk it up' more, so you get more participants. There were no P.A. announcements made for this activity, nor was it mentioned at the end of the Princess Theater show the night before the event. SHORE EXCURSIONS: We didn't participate in a lot of the Princess shore excursions, but the ones that we did were very nice. We did the whale-watching in Maui which was great fun. And the seahorse center in Kona which was very neat! My husband also did the Maui Ocean Center which he enjoyed; my mother did the Waimea Canyon which was beautiful (even though we have the Grand Canyon not too far from us); and my sister-in-law and brother-in-law did a couple of others that they enjoyed (can't remember what though). We did book a few shore excursions directly with the company & went on our own. We went to a luau at the Sea Life Park on Oahu which was great. It was a combination of getting to visit the park to see the animals & go to the luau with food, drinks, & dancing. We also visited the U.S.S. Missouri taking the 'Explorer's Tour' which costs a little bit more, but is well worth it. We rented a car in Oahu for the whole day for about $33.00 through Thrifty. We also drove to the big swap meet at the stadium and purchased all our gifts & souvenirs there saving a ton of money. I wanted to have our photo taken on the ship in matching Hawaiian outfits (my husband & I) and we were able to buy just what we needed at the swap meet for a lot cheaper than I'd been seeing in the various island stores. In Kauai we booked a helicopter ride ourselves with Island Helicopter. It was alright, but my husband and I were placed into the back seat with 2 other adults & it was pretty crowded. Couldn't see a whole lot either. I'd been in a helicopter before, but it was a first for my husband. He said it was "o.k." The 2nd excursions we booked ourselves here was the zip-lining with Backcountry Adventures. We had to take a cab there & back which was $20.00 each way, but it was well worth it! We both have found a new passion in our lives that I'm sure we'll be doing again in the future. It was fabulous! 7 different zip lines & lunch afterwards. I am afraid of heights - not totally, but enough. BUT, I still didn't have a problem. I had to just make myself jump of the platform the first time, but after that it was the neatest thing ever!!! Try it sometime. In Hilo, we used a company called Green Travel & Tours. They took us around the town to a variety of places just like the Princess city tours, for less money. In Hilo, if you don't have anything booked ahead of time you will be alright because when you get off of the ship and go out to the parking lot there are a lot of different vendors/companies waiting right there trying to get your business. You can just go talk to them & see what they have to offer. All in all our shore excursions were wonderful!! CHILDREN'S CLUBS: I have no children, so we didn't use the children's clubs. I did read a recent review that said how awful the children's club(s) was because no one attended & they didn't have enough activities. Speaking as a late 40's early 50's childless couple - we chose this specific cruise (a long 2 week cruise), during this time period (NOT during spring break, Christmas vacation or summer), in hopes that there would NOT be a lot of children on board. It worked out well; there were not a lot of kids. Yeah for us, not so good for the few kids that were on board. I think it makes sense that if you take your children with you & it's not during the time when most schools are on break, then your children will not have a lot of others their age to play with and the majority of people on board will be older. ENTERTAINMENT: I thought the entertainment was also very good. The Princess dancers, singers, & musicians were great. There was a variety of entertainment including production shows, a ventriloquist, a hypnotist, a harmonica player that was amazing, comedians & even a Celine Dion impersonator (I don't care for Celine Dion very much, but Tracey? was very good). If you haven't figured out by now that I am a pretty straight-forward person, you will with what I'm about to say: Now, this is again just my opinion, but, the people that complain that they can't get a seat in the Princess Theater for a show or complain that they had to get there 45 minutes ahead of time, are speaking the truth. Some people didn't get seats and most people who got seats did go 45 minutes ahead of time to get them. THIS IS THE PART WHERE I SPEAK MY MIND REFERENCE THIS TYPE OF COMPLAINT. The complainers must also be the person that everyone has encountered at one time or another in your life that walks into the movie theater while the theater is dark & the movie has almost started and stumbles in front of you, stepping on your toes & spilling their popcorn on your lap, while looking for a seat! If you want a good seat or any seat at all, put in a little effort. The Princess Theater seats 800+ people, I believe. There are 2600+ patrons on this cruise. Do the math!! We would go to the theater right after dinner, get our excellent seats right down front in the middle and sit & talk, or read our book, or look at the Princess Patter for the next day's activities, etc. It was actually relaxing and a good time to catch up with what everyone did that day now that we were all together. We even played Yahtzee on my brother-in law's PDA one evening while we waited. I spent a lot of money to go on this cruise, I sure wasn't going to let a few 'inconveniences' ruin this vacation! DISEMBARKATION: And speaking of 'inconveniences' - disembarkation was my inconvenience. It was rough. There's no other way to put it. Princess is trying a new procedure where they don't make any announcements over the P.A. system as to who is leaving and at what time. That part of it is nice; it's much quieter. Once you've cleared customs, you go to a designated place & wait until your Princess employee tells you it's time for your group number to disembark. This part was smooth. It was the customs part that wasn't. The line to go through customs was considerably LONG. It went from Club Fusion, where the custom's people were stationed, all the way to the other end of the ship & in some places it wrapped around into various lines so that you weren't sure exactly where the actual end of the line was. It needs to be worked on, but I'm sure Princess knows this and is doing their best to figure out a better way. As far as actually getting off the ship & getting our luggage, there was no problem. No long lines to get off the ship, everyone moved smoothly. Our luggage was all accounted for & in the area (color coded) it was supposed to be. SUMMARY: Any cruise or vacation is what each person makes of it. You can complain about trivial things or look at it as an opportunity to improve on your patience. I choose the latter. This was a FANTASTIC cruise!!! Keep it up Princess! Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
This was our third cruise having cruised the med. with royal Caribbean and the Caribbean with holland america. Princess was by far the superior cruise experience. The weather was not the greatest especially cool at sea for most of the 10 ... Read More
This was our third cruise having cruised the med. with royal Caribbean and the Caribbean with holland america. Princess was by far the superior cruise experience. The weather was not the greatest especially cool at sea for most of the 10 days sailing at sea. In Hawaii we had showers pretty well every day but mostly wonderful warm days. Hawaii is so sweet anyhow. It was our second visit to Hawaii. We simply can not explain the folks who would not care for this ship. The food was outstanding from the buffet to the specialty restaurants. The service was outstanding. I have read about people complaining about rude staff and this was not our experience at all. The crew was very friendly and polite! If we where to take this cruise again however we would not take it that early in the year as there where many days in which we could not enjoy our balcony due to the cool and cloudy weather. Now there is one final criticism we have to mention and that was the disembarkment. A total disaster!! It took us almost 2 HOURS to get off this ship!!! We have NO IDEA what went wrong but man was it ever disorganized!! The worse part was there was NO staff around to explain things to us! THere has to be a better way. All and all however a wonderful trip and our next cruise will be with Princess and we are planning the Panama canal for 2 years hence. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
We are seasoned cruise people - this being number 15 for us. We have also cruised to Hawaii from California before on RCCL - Radiance of the Seas - NEVER again will we sail Princess. While we made our own fun, and enjoyed time alone and ... Read More
We are seasoned cruise people - this being number 15 for us. We have also cruised to Hawaii from California before on RCCL - Radiance of the Seas - NEVER again will we sail Princess. While we made our own fun, and enjoyed time alone and away from home there are just not enough activities that are interesting. The ship was clean and well taken care of - no complaints there. The cabins are much smaller than we are used to for a balcony. If you opt for a balcony - there will be no comfortable place to sit in your room. If the weather cooperates you do have your balcony - it's a chance you take. The bathrooms are much smaller than RCCL or Carnival. The food was good - although we don't particularly like anytime dining - it gave us no opportunity to make the usual bonds with our wait staff - this was particularly disturbing to hubby as he prefers to have his martini waiting for him when he sits down to dinner. The shows are ok BUT there is not enough room in the theatre to handle the amount of folks on the ship - if you want to go to a show you need to be there 45 minutes to an hour before the show to get a decent seat. This in our opinion is unacceptable. As I said, we made our own entertainment and cruise for the sea says and time in the casino - hence the Hawaii cruise is perfect. Disembarkment was a total circus. Princess needs to rethink their ways as the line to get to customs actually went the length of the ship and back again and then somehow crossed and merged into the line to get off the ship - total nightmare not to mention hazard - God forbid there was a fire - I shutter to think of the folks who could have been hurt. Princess is definitely for the "older" crowd - those who bed down by 10:00 at night - those who prefer sedate activities or those that want to hide away in their cabin. All in all - just not our cup of tea! Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
THE GOOD MY family 5 of us were on from Feb 15th - March 2nd I will list the good things about the ship first from our experience (we have cruised before) Overall things were good we made our own fun because we found the evenings to be ... Read More
THE GOOD MY family 5 of us were on from Feb 15th - March 2nd I will list the good things about the ship first from our experience (we have cruised before) Overall things were good we made our own fun because we found the evenings to be kind of boring .. I would try princess again maybe when we are a little older Clean ship , friendly cruise staff , lots of pools and spas on board , great selection of restaurants , Great locations for the port stops !! The lei making class and the scrapbooking class were fun !! the casino was a blast , my 12 year old son loved the junior chef program , we liked the buffet but it was a little repetitive.. for us the check in and check out process were really smooth my mom is in a wheel chair so I'm sure that helped , the shows were good , we really enjoyed the hypnotist and I really don't care for Celine Dion at all but the impersonator of her was really good , the Polynesian show on our Honolulu night was excellent !! Our room attendant was awesome he was really on top of things and bent over back ward for us so was our parents room attendant he was a really nice guy , Steak house was good , AWESOME having a self serve laundry especially with kids!! I like that they push the hand sanitizer on everyone I know some people hate it for whatever reasons but for me when I know that some guy who may have not washed his hands after using the bathroom has at least had to put some sanitizer on it made me feel a little better at the buffet THE BAD AGE GROUP : Well to start off we realized that in our early 30's with a 12 (almost 13) year old son we were kind of out of place the majority of the ship were about 50-75. THE ROOM : Our beds were hard as a bloody rock so we did not get that great of a sleep at all.The room was really cramped no where to sit except for our balcony but it was a little cold the first few days to sit on it !! ACCOUNT & TV & INTERNET: the TV selection was horrible and so repetitive . Having to go to the front desk everytime you wanted to check your account was awful standing behind 8-10 people (we liked royal Caribbean being able to check your account through your television), don't get me started on the internet HOLY expensive !!!WOW THE THEATER : The live shows were great if you could get a damn seat !! Not enough seating in Lounges or Theater for that many people to see the shows. We had to go 45min-1 hour beforehand . THE KIDS CLUB: compared to other ships was just BAD BAD BAD , my son was with the Childrens group of 8-12 years olds and there were only 6 kids in that group and most were closer to 8 .. so many of you would realize who have kids there is a big difference between 8 year olds and a almost 13 year old !! we tried to get him with the group of 4 older boys who were 13-16 but they wouldn't allow it but they had no problems sticking my son in the 3-7 year old room with a 5 and 6 year old ..we figured we would try the late night kids sitting 10pm-1am they stuck him in the 3-7 year old room to watch dvd's (royal caribbean and carnival do things like dodgeball and karaoke and dance parties and olympics and pj parties) so after 1 night of being forced to watch high school musical 2 with a 5 year old girl he was done with that !!! ACTIVITIES some of the activities were good some were bad there was not enough flowers for the first lei making class but my mom and I were one of the lucky ones like everything else on the ship we waited inline 1hour and a half before the class to make one ( but there one ticked off bunch of ladies who didn't get to make one) THE FOOD/RESTAURANTS good overall a little repetitive in the buffet but the buffet is horribly set up not enough space no real line formation you feel like a wandering idiot bumping into everyone by the time you have made it out alive you have said sorry at least 30 times and than can't find anywhere to sit !! so you find a place to sit finally a mile and a half away and then you realize you have no drink !!! haha and getting one of the guys get you one may be difficult but you really need an ice tea or water because believe me if you need a drink anywhere else your gonna pay for it !! we had good luck over all but found Sabatini's a little odd they are quite pushy with the food .When we went it was not to busy so they drove us crazy My family joked that you could never have a romantic dinner there because the waiters will all but floss your teeth !! they were so friendly but it took 5 of us 2 hours to get through all 8 courses and I think we skipped one and they just drove us nuts .. THE UGLY KIDS CLUB: I was a little grossed out with the fact that one afternoon my son went and one of the days activities was to dissect a dead baby squid ...the activity was listed on the paper as learning about sea life creatures I guess they sure learned about sea life. THE BATHROOM : no matter what we did our bathroom ALWAYS smelled like poo yup POO I bought air freshener in the gift shop I tried my perfume , everytime we used the sink or toilet or anything it seemed like we got a back smell like in a motor home toilet and my poor parents had worse their toilet would not flush and when it finally did it over flowed poo into their room that was not theirs!! EWW EWW EWW LOL THE SHOWER everytime a shower was taken by my husband my son or I no matter what we always flooded the floor and used everytowel in the room to have to mop it up and by the end of the cruise our bathroom not only smelled like poo but mold too !! THE SPA we went for a couples 3 pack deal we got the back and neck massage / foot and ankle rub and head and scalp massage (20 minutes of each) OH it was ugly .. I go a masseuse at home so I am definitely not a first timer I have really long hair ( down to my behind) and my hair and scalp massage was pretty much 18 minutes of hair pulling and a 2 minute massage , My back massage was lots of hard elbows to the ribs and getting slapped like a wet fish and my foot and ankle rub was the worst I had the day before knocked my leg (the part right above the ankle)and had a really deep bruise which she insisted would rub out ...OWWWWW after I yelped 4-5 times and finally had to tell her it hurt PLEASE do not massage there she moved on except my ankle and foot swelled up and none of my shoes fit except for my Wal-Mart flipflops ( which I might add looked excellent with my evening gown) HAHAHA Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
This was my 10th cruise, 2nd 2 weeks cruise and sailing to Hawaii with Princess, a dream, or so I thought! We left LA on the first of February en route to Hawaii. The weather turned rather cold so we spent most of the time inside. Princess ... Read More
This was my 10th cruise, 2nd 2 weeks cruise and sailing to Hawaii with Princess, a dream, or so I thought! We left LA on the first of February en route to Hawaii. The weather turned rather cold so we spent most of the time inside. Princess is definitely not responsible for the weather but we were hoping that they would try to keep us busy. Not so. Not a lot of activities and a lot of them cost extra money: yoga, $10.00 extra per day, photo and/or computer classes $25.00 per session, pottery (buy your own)etc, the rest of the activities were trivia or hula lessons (not for everyone). There wasn't enough waiters to get decent service. A lot of the staff were rude, they would not get you a "free" drink, it had to be something at a cost: cocktails were close to $8.00 with gratuities, even cappuccinos were $2 or $3!! There was an ice-cream bar and treats were $3.75 each. Cabins are fine, good in size and our Marvin, our stewart was very efficient. I prefer the traditional sitting for dining, but even though I booked in August, there were no space left for the 5:45 early sitting, so I had to take the late. I didn't really minded since the early is a tad early for me. So off I went for the late sitting at 8:00............Well all the shows on port days are at: 7:00 or 8:45!! If we went to the 7:00 show we could not be at our table until 8:20 (way too late) and eating at 8:00 meant that we would finish at 10:00, do the math...no shows for us!! Most of the shows/activities in every lounge were overlapping from 7:00 to 11:00, try and find a seat when you come out of diner at 10:00!! We sometimes sat on the floor! As for anytime dining they often are too full and you are turned back at the door or even on the phone if you try to make reservations, you might get to eat one hour later than hoped, so much for anytime. The shore excursions we booked through Princess were "fabulous", we really enjoyed them. Port talk were too long and boring and too early in the cruise (four days ahead). Public area were mostly clean and well kept. Food was not great, a lot of all inclusive type of mish-mash of all kinds, except in the Dining room, where it improved a bit, but not what I expected on a cruise. The two specialty restaurant might have been better but with an extra cost of $15.00 to $30.00 per person, we skipped. Disembarkation was a nightmare!!! Gangway and immigration were to close together and the lines got mixed up. Hours of waiting! Also, Princess staff were so disorganized that the first group of walk-off expected to get off at 8:45 did not make it until 9:30. I would never recommend Princess, my worst cruise ever!! Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian all fared much better in every aspect. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
Embarkation: We arrived at our port of call in Los Angeles (San Pedro) around 12:30 p.m. We knew that we were going to use the long term parking lot because we wanted the freedom to bring back any gifts etc. that normally we would have to ... Read More
Embarkation: We arrived at our port of call in Los Angeles (San Pedro) around 12:30 p.m. We knew that we were going to use the long term parking lot because we wanted the freedom to bring back any gifts etc. that normally we would have to think about if we had to fly. Since we live in Los Angeles, we could walk off the ship early and not worry about flight luggage weight requirements. The Diamond Princess looked great and the luggage employees immediately took our luggage off our hands and onto the ship. Once inside, we were greeted and asked to sign a sick waiver and to proceed up the escalator to our check in line. It was very easy and noticeably there were not hundreds of people waiting in lines as I expected. Almost the same amount of people as the Monarch of the Seas had in October. The international line had about 15 passengers in it and surprisingly some of them became our best ship mates onboard. Although we were booked on the Emerald Deck (8), we inadvertently landed in the Dolphin and Lido deck line. The wonderful counter lady happily checked us in with our online boarding pass and passports and all we had to wait for was our Princess sea pass that doubles as your room key and your onboard ship account. Our card was behind the counter of the line we should have been it, but we got it and proceeded to the security line. This was fast and easy and the next thing we knew, we took our welcome aboard photo and in ten minutes we were onboard the Diamond Princess. Diamond Princess: I must first say that in October 2007 a bunch of us were on the Monarch of the Seas in Ensenada and we remember looking across at the Diamond Princess and wishing we were on such a huge ship with all of the balconies. It reminded me of some of the Celebrity ships I had been on only in that manner though. Well, now I was on the Princess ready to explore its inner workings. The first thing was to visit the Guest Services desk and to inquire about an upgrade. Since we only booked this cruise two months in advance, we were just happy to get onboard. Well, no upgrades were available and I sort of expected that. Our stateroom was E225 on Deck 8. The room was very clean and cozy with two twin beds that could be pushed together under the ocean view window. We were very relieved to find the lifeboat outside of our window was not blocking any of our view. Our itinerary noted that we would have "a fully obstructed view." This was not the case and you can imagine how happy we were. The room had a reading chair and glass table, a mini-refrigerator with most of things I requested online, your usual small television, fully mirrored desk and nice curvature wooden trim that separated the sleeping area from the closet and bathroom space. The closet was big enough for two people, especially with a sailing of this duration and another closet with cubby holes and your own private safe. There were also extra drawers of storage under the end tables and mirrored desk. In addition, the bathroom had Eucalyptus shampoo, conditioner and lotion from the Lotus Spa. The shower head was new, but the only complaint I would have here was the angle of the toilet and the lack of a bathtub. But then again, that's what the pool and Jacuzzi's are for. Just kidding. Moreover, the doors were inset which allowed a little more privacy when grabbing your Princess Patter each day. This was your onboard guide to everything that was happening on the ship that day. Read it. After putting up our Aloha door sign and lei, and meeting our stateroom attendant, Marlon, it was time to explore the ship. The first thing you notice is that this ship has a lot of nooks and crannies and is laid out in a less symmetrical manner than other ships we were on. The centrally located 3 level-atrium is where everything is branched out from. With a piano and lobby bar on the lower level, the gift shop and stores on the second and the wonderful Crooners Bar with piano at the top, you could not help but want to people watch or check out a game of Scrabble from the Library or partake in your first cocktail and explore the public areas of the ship. The passengers were of all ages although mostly older and from all over the world. In a nutshell, there was a bar or lounge that could accommodate or be found relaxing to most people. An ATM machine was available also in the Casino. Bars and lounges: Wheelhouse Bar was the upscale lounge with nightly entertainment. People would read books outside of this on one of the many chairs and couches. Weather permitting, you could take your book and read on the Promenade deck, too. Crooners Lounge was where to lounge before or after you either ate or enjoyed a show. It is an open lounge area and its sitting area was lined up against a wall of windows. This was our favorite because the bar itself was overlooking the Atrium; you could chat while still listening to the pianist and because it had an assortment of stuffed olives ranging from jalapeno to blue cheese. You had to ask for this though. Explorers Lounge offered shows, trivia, the onboard art auction (only free champagne one day though) and other activities that included movies. The only flaw that we found was that it was located between the Photo Gallery and Crooners Lounge. You had people constantly walking through this area and if you had a seat on a couch or chair it was hard to focus on your group or the occasional comedian on stage. More about the entertainment later. The Lobby Bar on the first level of the Atrium was a great place to have a coffee or drink before you headed to whatever dining room you chose unless you had a preset numbered table in the International Dining Room. Club Fusion, was the bar at the back of the ship where the only time we went in there was to play Bingo or to root for a friend of ours in the final of Princess Idol contest. It had a lot of plasma televisions and a nice layout. For the sightseer, The Skywalker's Lounge was on Deck 15 (I think), and you entered by going up an escalator. There was a dance floor and a great view of where the ship was headed. It also doubled as the late night nightclub which closed later than the others. For those of you who like port, or cognac etc, there is the Wake View Bar. You have to go into Club Fusion and proceed to the stage and then descend down the staircase. It was a smaller private lounge but the only complaint was "where was the view?" The small porthole windows should have been larger. The Casino had the Casino Bar if you wanted to gamble and drink at the same time. If you like cigars or want to have a smoke while watching your favorite sporting event then Churchill's Cigar Bar was your place to hang out. It was located right outside of the Princess Theatre and had two pool tables connected to the ceiling. Then, of course, you had all of the bars that would surround the many pool areas. Note: Not a bad place to sit for lunch if you have to. Restaurants: We had Anytime Dining because we booked so late, but I am so glad that we did. This way we could find our own group and eat anytime that we wanted. In addition, this allowed us to enjoy either the late or early show or schedule dining accordingly. Moreover, we liked to switch between the different restaurants to experience something new. Basically if you did not have assigned seating in the International Dining Room or the others for early seating, you had a variety of choices. This included the other four dining rooms. Santa Fe, Savoy, Vivaldi and The Pacific Moon as well as the cover charge restaurants. $15.00 allowed you into the Sterling Steak House and $20.00 for Sabatini's. Each of the five free dining rooms has the same menu except each has its own special or signature dish. This obviously would go along with the theme of the restaurant. The Pacific Moon had an Asian theme and so did the special which had shrimp, scallops and noodles. The Santa Fe had great guacamole and chips and a southwestern theme or concept and their special was beef or chicken fajitas. Savoy and Vivaldi seemed to have the richest dEcor with signature dishes of Oso Buco and grilled pork chops. With anytime dining though, if you plan on dining earlier than 7:30 or 8:00 p.m., you will need a reservation. We usually chose to eat around 8:00 p.m. and we just walked in and the Maitre D' usually was able to seat us right away. Our cruising dinner party had four people in it and they usually sat us at a 6-top table. For whatever reason, we were not able to partake in the cover charge restaurants, but we heard nothing but great things about them. Sterling Steak House had a great variety of meet proportioned in a variety of cuts that you would not get in the others. Sabatini's served Italian food in a nice cozy restaurant nestled between the Internet Cafe and the Photo Gallery. You choose your entrEe and they bring the rest, all the rest. Everyone said to skip lunch because they serve you the entire menu including the appetizers and desserts. I recommend making a reservation. But they do allow so many seats for walk-ins. Arriving at 6:00 p.m. when they open should get you in unless you have a large party. The remaining options are the Horizon Court and this is the buffet section. It is where everyone eats for breakfast and lunch and when you decide you don't want to dine in the dining rooms. And don't forget to check out your Princess Patter to see what type of food they are serving by the Calypso Pool area. This included a Sushi Buffet and a Mexican Buffet as well as a German Sausage Buffet. The opposite side of the Calypso Pool and Horizon Court on Deck 14 had a grill that served hamburgers, hotdogs, sausages and French fries. The opposite side had a Pizza Buffet complete with Parmesan, Oregano and Hot Pepper shakers. I had cheese pizza every day. And finally, if you are not feeling social or just want to sleep in and be lazy, you can order room service. My only complaint here is that the menu could have included more items and variety. I recommend the Ball Park Style Hotdog. The service just like your drinks does include a gratuity and if you order a whole pizza from room service there is a $3.50 service charge on top of that. You can also pre-order your breakfast the night before and specify the specific range of time. Simply fill out what you want and place it outside of your stateroom before 11:00 p.m. Some of the items included a variety of juice and cereal as well as three types of bread, a pot of coffee or tea, and fruit. You can also order a bottle of Vodka or other alcohol for around $13.00. We enjoyed Cape Cods and Screwdrivers while we dined in our room. Sodas cost extra just like they do around the ship. The Horizon Court always had iced tea available as well as other juices at breakfast if you did not want to pay for soda. Remember you can purchase a soda pass or card that allows you unlimited Coke ,etc. throughout your cruise. It was around $69.00 for the whole trip which you pay upfront on your Princess onboard ship account. Food: The Horizon Court had a variety of food and I would rate it a 6 out of 10. Breakfast seemed to more consistently tasteful than lunch or dinner. Hand sanitizer was everywhere and you will get sick of it, but we were glad they offered it. There was always sausage, bacon, Eggs Benedict, a variety of omelets, fruit, cottage cheese, hash browns, cereal, toasts and bread, oatmeal and grits, a cheese bar, as well as all the condiments you would need. The only item we couldn't find was peanut butter. A friend of ours bought some in Hilo and brought it on board. Lunch and Dinner had a variety of food items but I usually ate elsewhere during this time. The salad bar always had plenty to choose from including sunflower seeds and that is what I had a couple of times when I realized I was gaining a pound a day because of all the food. But hey, why not, it is part of the experience of cruising. The first thing we noticed about the menu in the dining rooms was how mismatched and unorganized it was. The chefs seemed to try a little too hard to bring certain ingredients together. I know they wanted to wow us with a creative menu, but it lacked fluidity. When in doubt order the Caesar Salad, Prime Rib, the International Cheese and Crackers, the Special of the Day, a familiar soup and the variety of Sorbet or the Cheesecake. I loved the noodle dish in the Pacific Moon and the chicken and beef fajitas in the Santa Fe. In addition, they served a Mexican Salad one night with a Jalapeno Dressing that was to die for. Moreover, mix and match and you can have any dish from any restaurant served in any dining room. Obviously you will have to pay to have Sterling's brought in. Overall, the wait staff and the cocktail servers were very friendly, polite and attentive. It felt like fine dining every night, and there was always something on the menu that we liked. If you like chilled soup, you're in for a surprise because some of them tasted like dessert. The buffets by the Calypso Pool were pretty good but not great. I am not a food critic and I understand the amount of food brought onboard the ship and that each meal is not made individually. I enjoyed the Sushi Buffet the most and there seemed to be a volcanic amount of Wasabi. The hamburger and hotdogs were done to my liking except for one dry bun on the hotdog, but the mustard helped that and the pizza was consistently a 9 out of 10. You could choose from Cheese, Pepperoni, Tomato and Feta and Mexican pizza if I remember correctly. Entertainment: The entertainment onboard was not that great. It did not compare to Celebrity, Holland America or even Royal Caribbean International. I would give it a 5 out of 10 or just plain average. There were standouts though but that will probably change by the time you cruise. If you are not too picky and just want to enjoy a dinner and a show then you will have no problem. The Princess Theatre only has a main level with some balconies. The chairs are red and the main curtain should be changed to accommodate the times. Go early and do allow the elderly and disabled to sit in back for ease of access. Drinks were easy to ask for and the seats were comfortable. If you do have a martini or something, sit in a row with a railing so you can set your drink down. The chairs do have a table stored inside of them like an old school desk, but the railing is so much easier. Shows were usually set according to early or late seating so you had the opportunity to go either before or after you dined. The crew behind the scenes and the band were always consistent and entertaining. They even showed movies in the Theatre. There is no outdoor theatre on Diamond Princess. Other lounges had really nice pianists and string players. This created a relaxing cruise environment. The best place for this was in the lower Atrium and the Crooners Lounge. In addition to these, there were Ceramics, Bridge, Afternoon Tea, Water Volleyball, Golf or Princess Links, Basketball Shootouts, Ping Pong, a variety of Kids activities including an arcade, Morning Trivia, Afternoon Quiz, Bingo, Art Auctions, Pictionary and Taboo games and many other activities for all walks of life and backgrounds. Read your Princess Patter for specific times and locations. Pools and Spas: The Diamond Princess has pools in the front, middle and back of the ship. There is also a covered pool and spa area with a clear ceiling in case the weather is bad. I enjoyed lying out at the back of the ship and watching the wake. The kids enjoyed the indoor pool and spa area the most. The spas could have been hotter. If one isn't, try another one as they all seemed to be set at different temperatures. Lotus Spa, Gym and Locker rooms: The spa had everything you wanted to relax. The staff was friendly and willing to answer your questions. There is a free tour the first day onboard. The gym was okay, but did the trick. But remember the ship does rock back and forth and the treadmill was a little tricky at times. The locker rooms have a free dry sauna and steam room as well as showers and restrooms. Just hand over your cruise card and they will give you a locker and robe if needed. There is a pay area for more relaxation with the heated seats, etc. in the Spa but I chose to use the locker room. Outside there is a small pool and two spas that are also free and people don't really find out this area until later in the cruise. Photos: We purchased several of the onboard photographs and some with our group. They ranged from $12.00 on up. Frames were available for purchase, too. The photos were displayed by theme, dining room seating and formal night. The photographers were very good with their digital cameras except the formal backgrounds sometimes looked like prom night. Formal Night: Cruises of this length usually have three formal nights which ours did. There was a mixture of suits and tuxes for men and a variety of colors and dresses for the women. There were a lot of passengers who decided to stay relaxed and not dress up, and you could always eat in the Horizon Court on Deck 14. But we enjoyed dressing up, dining and going to the shows. It does break up the monotony of wearing a Hawaiian shirt and beads. The rest of the nights were Smart Casual. Stateroom Attendant: Marlon was ours on Emerald Deck 8 and he was great. He had a personality that didn't just read the traditional "I am excellent smile." He was genuine and was there for whatever we needed. Our stateroom was always stocked and clean with fresh towels and ice in the fridge as well as the shampoos and conditioners and daily chocolates on our pillows. I know it is his job, but you do appreciate this type of service after a long day. Turn down was always done to perfection, too. Marlon even suggested that I iron my clothes on the deck above ours because the laundromat was closer to our cabin up there on Deck 9. We signed him up for employee of the month. There were eight washers and dryers and four irons and ironing boards available. Washing and drying cost $1.00 each. Shore Excursions: Sorry but we did all of our ports on our own. Although most people booked shore excursions through Princess, we tend to do our own research and go by ourselves or our group. Being our fifth cruise we felt comfortable doing our own excursions. Hawaii: After five great days at sea, it was nice to see and feel land. Our first stop was Hilo, Hawaii and this was a letdown. I guess I expected a big beautiful lei greeting with the traditional dancers and Tiki lamps. There were local singers, but it was in the aircraft style hanger/gift shop that passengers had to pass through in most port city. Make sure and take the shuttle into town because it is three long miles and I know this because we walked. Half way to Hilo was a Japanese Garden that we wanted to see. It was nice, but not great. Don't get me wrong, it was a beautiful place with beautiful people and we did enjoy the Farmers Market and the Thai Restaurant but that was it. My advice here is to book a shore excursion. Overall, Hilo should not be on the itinerary because it just does not compare to the others. Next up was Kona, Hawaii and I was excited about this because I am a coffee aficionado and Kona has some of the best coffee in the world. Make sure you buy only Kona Coffee and not a Kona Blend. Kona required a tender because the ships can only get so close to this side of the Island. It was very beautiful and we walked on our own and ended up at The Kona Resort Hotel, (home of the original Mai Thai.) We sat by the pool and enjoyed our drink and took pictures of the Diamond Princess. On our way back we did a little shopping and stopped by The Kona Coffee Cafe. This is a must stop! It was rated number one coffee in the world out of 31,000 entrees. There you can sample the Kona coffee and then purchase whatever roast you want. A pound is around $40.00. We chose the dark roast for our sample and purchased the medium for home. I am drinking it right now and it is helping with this review. Next we rented snorkel equipment for $25.00 which included roundtrip shuttle service. The beach was five miles from where the ship tenders dropped us off. It was magical. The water was so clear and there were a variety of large and small fish with every color imaginable. I forgot the name of the Beach but it is a main one for tourists and locals alike. Just ask at the Tourist Information Booth at the dock for more options. To cap off our wonderful day on Kona we chose Cassandra's and My Place where there is a Greek only parking sign. It was upstairs and we had a great Greek salad and beer and people watched until we had to leave for the tender back to the ship. Coffee and snorkeling, you can't go wrong. Kauai, Hawaii just has that beauty, air quality, lifestyle and scenery that you expect. We broke it up into two sections and we even rented a Jeep Wrangler from Budget. The first stop was Waimea Canyon Lookout. What an incredible and fun drive. About thirty miles from the ship and an uphill ride that seemed to never end. The view was breathtaking, so bring your cameras. There is a waterfall in the distance, too. The other side of the Island had great little shops and restaurants and we found a nice little surprise along the way. The Kauai Coffee Plantation! There is your typical gift store and in the back you can sample a variety of their locally grown coffees. I loved the Kauai Blue Mountain Peaberry the best and brought some of that home along with a cap and Coffee Butter. You also can see the coffee plants and bushes onsite and it is along the way back to the ship from the canyon lookout. Honolulu is very much a large city with everything that a large city has. The shopping mirrored Rodeo Drive and there are many wonderful hotels. We rented our Ford Mustang from the Hyatt Hotel because it is right next to Waikiki Beach. This is the most famous beach in the world and is a great place to people watch and get the vibe of the city. If you want to explore the whole island I would suggest visiting the Dole Pineapple Plantation. Don't forget to have the pineapple soft ice cream cone. After that, drive around North Shore to experience the biggest waves I have ever seen in person. Wow! Do allow plenty of time to get back because traffic is slow do to people crossing the rode at the many beautiful beaches they have there. Don't forget Diamond Head either. Our last stop in Hawaii was Lahaina, Maui. This was our favorite. Would you believe that Lahaina is an old whaling city built in a New England sort of way? It has great shops, restaurants and temples, as well as your typical Hilo Hattie. Anyone that has been to Hawaii has heard of Hilo Hattie, the Hawaiian store. Not to sound cheap, but you do get free beads for around your neck when you enter. That way they know who is buying what and from what ship. You can buy your Hawaiian shirts there and they are on all the Islands so you don't have to bring so many with you. This is a tender port and I recommend trying to get to the ship a little early on the way back. Two ships were there and the line for the tender was several blocks long. Be patient. We ate at Bubba Gump and had garlic shrimp and an ale. We then hopped into a cab and went to Kaanapali Beach. We had the cab driver drop us off at the Hyatt Hotel and started there. Remember to lie out on the public beach because the resorts and Hotels are expensive and their pool areas and chairs are for guests with wristbands only. We parked ourselves in front of the Marriott Timeshare. It was magic. What a view but the water was a little cold at this time of year (January). Disembarkation: We chose the walk-off-on-your-own program. That way we could leave the ship as early as possible. This meant that you had to carry your own luggage off the ship and you wouldn't use the color coded luggage tags that you usually put out the night before. Although we did this, if you don't have to, I would not recommend it. We had a work-related meeting to attend early and that is why we chose it. There were two groups and an International group. One was in the Wheelhouse Bar and one was in the Explorers Lounge where we landed as group number two. People and luggage were all over the place and it was hard to get around, especially for those passengers that needed special assistance. In addition, people were in a rush to leave the ship and frustrated at the lack of movement at the same time. Once off the ship it was a breeze to get through Customs and out to the parking lots and taxi areas. Don't lose your customs declaration form. Overall, this was the longest cruise we have been on and we loved almost everything about it. The Diamond Princess staff and crew members were outstanding and we even met the Captain. It would be easy to nitpick all the small negative things, but that is not who I am. I choose to focus on the positive things. Some people are not able to cruise and some simply cannot. It is a fun ship with nice public areas and a great itinerary except it would have been nice to stay in the ports longer or even overnight in Honolulu. Would I recommend this 15-night cruise to you? The answer is yes. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
Husband and I are 50-ish. This was our 4th cruise; 2nd with Princess. We are now strictly Princess cruisers. We drove to LA, stayed at the DoubleTree San Pedro - great hotel, large suite, full breakfast, parking, shuttle to and from pier. ... Read More
Husband and I are 50-ish. This was our 4th cruise; 2nd with Princess. We are now strictly Princess cruisers. We drove to LA, stayed at the DoubleTree San Pedro - great hotel, large suite, full breakfast, parking, shuttle to and from pier. Embarkation - - easy, and quick; about 10 minutes from hotel's van to our cabin. Cabin - - Dolphin deck; mini-suite. Very pleased with our cabin. Steward (Ricardo) was so nice and very competent. He treated us like royalty. I had pre-ordered flowers, gift certificates for the Lotus Spa, a ship's scrapbook, and chocolate covered strawberries. They were all there for us. Bathroom had a tub/shower and lots of spa shampoo, conditioner, lotion, shower gel, and bars of soap. Beds were very comfortable; duvets were great. Ricardo changed our beds 4 times during the cruise, gave us fresh towels 3X/day (if we needed them), and kept the 2 beach towels and ice bucket replenished. Food - - we did traditional dining, met some interesting people at our table, enjoyed this very much. Our waiters (Ronald and Roman) were probably the best we've encountered at any restaurant. Food was DIVINE; presentation was lovely, service was, as I said, amazing. We had a table for 6 by a window in the Vivaldi Dining Room. We didn't eat anywhere else except for breakfast and lunch. Breakfast in the other dining room was very good, Horizon Buffet was very good. Lunch was okay at Horizon. Pizza Bar and Hamburger Bar by pool was also very good. We didn't do specialty restaurants nor Formal nights. Entertainment - - so much to do all the time; shows, trivia games, lectures, classes, etc. Bayne Bacon was a hoot and also a talented entertainer. Singers and dancers were wonderful. Ports - - we so enjoyed Hawaii. We did Princess excursions: whale watch, Napoli Coast, and Secrets of Puna. PLEASED with all 3. Ship - - sooo beautiful, clean, new. Wow! Staff - - again, sooo friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, untiring, always ready to get you what you want before you know you want it. Lotus Spa - - we each did the Frangipani Scalp/Neck/Shoulder massage. Hmmmm Fantastic! And only $25/each! I got a free mini-facial too, and no pressure to buy anything. The Spa is simply beautiful/elegant. Soda card - - stupid thing was $60/person! We don't spend that much in a year for soda. We ordered a 6 pack from room service for $7 and made it last until we got to Hawaii and could buy another. Disembarkation - - guess the earlier groupings had a rough time of it. Because we were driving home, we let them know we could wait, so we were almost the last ones off. This worked out great, as we were off the ship within 15 minutes or so. Lines - - seemed like there was a long line for everything on this ship. However, they moved fairly quickly, so can't complain. Just the initial shock of seeing a long line would make us sigh. Passengers - - We were probably a little younger than most, but there were plenty of 30 year old's, and a couple of kids. Our fellow cruisers were all nice, friendly, mellow, interesting, and patient. Seas - - I took Dramamine constantly (just in case), and had no problems. We were blessed with the best weather and sea conditions. Whales - - YES! Probably saw about 45 total. WOW! Saw about 15 just from our balcony when we sailed into Hawaii! AMAZING! Saw dolphins, sea turtles, and so many different, brightly colored fish! Lecturer on board said that to see a complete whale breach was quite rare, well, we saw 3! And there were about 200 dolphins around our Napoli excursion boat! They were spinner dolphins, and really put on a show for us. Yes, this was the BEST vacation and BEST cruise ever!! The things we saw brought tears to our eyes. Yes, really. The husband and I both were crying. We were blessed. Did ANYTHING go wrong on our trip? Well, for those of you who need to know - - - embarkation - our cruise cards couldn't be found (they printed up replacements in 5 minutes), there was ONE day when the hairdryer quit working (stood out on the balcony, held my head out over the railing and blew it dry that way - Ricardo had a new hairdryer in the room the next day), we NEVER won a single trivia game (pooooor babies), the tender into Lahaina was a wild ride and a long one (a ferry had broken down in one of the piers so only one could be used at a time - - so we met and got to know a fascinating man on the tender), I had to hold onto the grab bar in the shower so I had to wash my hair with one hand (yeah, let's whine about that), and - - husband demanded (and received) "payment" for the cruise. ha ha Jeepers, this is getting long. Will close. I've posted on the boards for any questions you have. Advice - - TAKE THIS CRUISE! Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
I would like to make this brief and just hit the highlights. Precruise we stayed at Doubletree San Pedro. It was wonderful! Got an upgrade to a suite and looked right out on the marina! Complementary van to take us to dinner and to pick ... Read More
I would like to make this brief and just hit the highlights. Precruise we stayed at Doubletree San Pedro. It was wonderful! Got an upgrade to a suite and looked right out on the marina! Complementary van to take us to dinner and to pick up a little wine for the trip and to the port the next day. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived about 11:30 and checked in immediately. Waited for a short time in a very large lobby and were on the ship and in our stateroom in less than an hour. The Pacific crossing was very smooth and enjoyable in every way. We did the Ultimate Balcony Dinner on the last full sea day before Hawaii and it was absolutely perfect!! Don't miss Bob Basso the naturalist. His lectures were captivating -- and I am normally not one to sit through lectures!! We booked all of our excursions through Princess because I like the convenience that that offers. Our first port was Lahaina. We had booked a whale watching tour and were delayed getting off the ship (no fault of Princess) and subsequently our early morning tour was combined with the later tour and it was very crowded and hot and not very fun. The boat never left the marina area where the Diamond was anchored. We could have seen the same whales from our balcony. We went on the Jungle Falls Kayak excursion in Kauai and really enjoyed it despite DH being Kayak steering dyslexic. Great guides with this adventure! It was quite a muddy trek through the jungle, but enjoyable nonetheless! In Honolulu we did Pearl Harbor and the Mighty Mo. Our tour guide threw in the City Tour because we had enough time! A nice bonus. Kona was our favorite port because we had the best excursion imaginable!! We did the Captain Zodiac snorkel excursion. I can't say enough wonderful things about this! Keep in mind, it is not for the faint of heart! It is definitely a thrill ride. Our guides, Colin and Brittany, were wonderful. Colin's skill with the raft and knowledge of the island were very impressive. In Hilo we did Volcano National Park and enjoyed it. The return trip home was fairly calm as well, with the exception of one night being pretty rocky! The ONLY negative on this trip was disembarkation! This was a nightmare and a terrible way to end such a wonderful cruise. I hope whatever they did the morning we disembarked was a test run and they will make some major improvements!! Overall, this cruise was an eleven on a scale of ten!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
We boarded the Diamond Princess on a drizzly December afternoon for the Christmas cruise to Hawaii. Embarkation was a breeze. We presented our e-tickets and had our cruise cards within minutes. Everything including the luggage drop-off was ... Read More
We boarded the Diamond Princess on a drizzly December afternoon for the Christmas cruise to Hawaii. Embarkation was a breeze. We presented our e-tickets and had our cruise cards within minutes. Everything including the luggage drop-off was well organized. The Diamond is a beautiful ship and well cared for. It was elegantly decorated for Christmas and the mood was festive from the outset. Having sailed on other lines, I was somewhat surprised by the food service on the Lido Deck. The buffet doesn't take up the whole middle of the deck on both sides as it does on the Carnival Pride, for instance. It is a relatively small area with restricted access which insures hand sanitation upon entry. It seems a better arrangement in terms of containing spread of disease and is probably the design of the future but the array of food seems skimpy compared to other ships. Food quality was fair to good. I had wondered if the crew would be able to keep a full load of passengers entertained for the four days at sea. There was so much to do that the days flew by. Scholarship@Sea provided some really good lectures about whales, navigation, ocean liners, history of the Middle East and Russia, etc. Also offered were craft classes, dance classes, bingo, group games such as Trivia, Taboo and Scattergories, sports challenges and special holiday activities to name a few. We took many shore excursions and most were quite good with entertaining guides. I don't really recommend the glass bottom boat at Kona--didn't see much or go out very far. On the tour to the USS Arizona monument we waited three and a half hours after arriving there early in the morning. Other passengers told us they simply waited until later in the day and took a city bus over there--no waiting and very inexpensive. In fact, it is very easy to get around at the Honolulu stop without the shore excursions. We docked at the Aloha Tower and walked off the ship into downtown Honolulu. The ports where tendering was necessary were no problem. All was well organized and efficient. Over all our trip was very, very nice. The menu is the same in all the dining rooms but we chose the service in the Pacific Moon for most of our dinners. Our cabin, a mini-suite with balcony, was comfortable and roomy with very comfortable beds. We were right above one of the lounges but never heard a thing from there or from other cabins. New Year's Eve was a big splashy bash with much music, dancing, a balloon drop and fun. Cruising to Hawaii instead of flying is relaxing and peaceful. You are able to experience the gradual change in climate from wintry wet in California to softly tropical as you approach the islands as well as the sudden appearance of rainbows all over the ocean. Debarkation was quiet and civilized with no announcements, just time and place of exit assigned the night before. We were let off at exactly the time specified and found our luggage and a porter very easily. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
I chose this cruise because of 10 sea days plus 5 days of Hawaii islands. We have always had balcony staterooms in the past but I got a great price for inside A729. I booked on the Princess website right at 2 months prior to the cruise. ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of 10 sea days plus 5 days of Hawaii islands. We have always had balcony staterooms in the past but I got a great price for inside A729. I booked on the Princess website right at 2 months prior to the cruise. This was our 7th cruise. Two on Celebrity and our 5th on Princess. When I booked the Diamond Hawaii cruise I knew we could live with the inside because the aft deck and Terrace Pool were only a few steps down the hall from our stateroom. Hurray!!! Plus, the Horizon was just one deck straight up. On most sea days we picked up our breakfast or lunch meals and walked them right out to the bar area that overlooks the Terrace Pool and enjoyed the wonderful deck area and view of the Diamond's wake. We flew into LAX a day early and took a Prime Time Shuttle ($17 each) to the San Pedro Vagabond Inn. I think our total Vagabond Inn bill was right at $65. The Vagabond offered free shuttle service to the pier. The room was clean. I had to get a hair dryer from the front desk. The next morning, right at 10:00, we took the 1st shuttle for the short ride to the ship. It was fun arriving at the pier so early...some of the passengers who just got off were still finding shuttles and taxis...and we were there for OUR TURN. Of course we were excited. We checked our bags with a ship porter and went right inside the cruise terminal, showed our express boarding passes, went through security, checked in, got our cruise cards and were ushered to the Platinum/Elite lounge where we relaxed and enjoyed complimentary coffee and rolls. We were called to the boarding area around noon and walked up the gang plank onto the ship shortly thereafter. I must say, our inside stateroom was JUST A STATEROOM...and no big deal, like it would have been if we had of walked into a balcony cabin; opened the slider and walked out on the balcony. Since we didn't have a balcony...we waisted no time. We promptly put our carry-ons in the closet area and just headed out to the Horizon and to explore the ship. The Diamond was due to sail at 4 p.m. so after the Horizon we looked for the best vantage point for sail away. When 4 p.m. rolled in, it was raining up a storm and it was dark, cold and blustery. Nothing like the warm and lively reggae music/party style sail-aways out of Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale. So much for our sail away on the Diamond so we went up to Skywalkers to get a decent sail away view (not much to see since it was cloudy, dark and rainy) and then headed back to our cabin to get ready for dinner. We had Anytime Dining. On the 1st night, our 1st choice was the International Dining room. When we got there the line was so long it was streaming out well beyond the entry of the dining room. So…we headed to the Pacific Moon and got a table for 2 right away. The menus in all of the dining rooms were the same, so to eat in the Pacific Moon was only a venue change. After dinner, we walked around the ship for awhile and then headed to the Princess Theater for the evening show. Our Anytime Dining worked out very well...we were always seated within a short period of time and usually ate at the Pacific Moon. The 1st day at sea our CC group Meet and Greet was held at Skywalkers at 11:00. A good sized group attended and it was nice to meet so many of the people who posted on the 12/18 Diamond roll call. The waves were high, the ship was rocking big time and the view from Skywalkers was fantastic. After the Skywalkers Meet and Greet, we headed downstairs in the elevator. That was it for me…inside that small closed-in elevator, for the 1st time ever, I had a sudden attack of sea sicknesses that was quite severe. I tried all of the remedies we had on hand, nothing worked, so I went to bed and didn't get up until late afternoon. After I slept it off, I was fine. Fortunately I was not bothered by sea sickness for the remainder of our voyage on the Diamond although we did have one rocking rough sea day on our return trip from Hawaii. I enjoyed the Diamond. There was always something to do or not do. The holiday decorations were layered in each day…so the atrium was ever changing. The snow in the atrium was pretty neat and innovative. It sure added to the holiday spirit. The shows in the Princess Theater got better as the days went on. We especially enjoyed the dancers and the comedians. It was fun being on the ship for Christmas and New Year's Eve. New Year's Eve was a blast. I was disappointed that the outdoor pool areas were too cold to enjoy the 1st 2 days out and the last 2 days coming back. I knew this before we boarded the ship but was still disappointed. I think I much prefer leaving out of Port Everglades or San Juan where you get a head start on warm weather and outdoor pool deck activities. We went to the horse races and also played bingo. I watched one of the Trivia games and may try that next cruise. The food served in the dining rooms was just ok for the most part. Kind of hit and miss. I started asking for the waiter's recommendation and was a bit happier with my entrées. Celebrity wins the food in the dining room competition hands down for both dinner and lunch. In addition, Celebrity service was outstanding whereas the Princess waiters and assistant waiters we encountered tried hard but many times we found they were not proficient at basic attention to detail waiting skills such as re-filling water/tea glasses, serving food, etc. Also, at one dinner, the assistant waiter took my used fork off my salad plate and put down on the tablecloth to be used as a utensil for my next course. I called the head waiter over and explained the situation and asked for a clean fork which he promptly took care of without further problem. The service between courses was the slowest we have ever experienced. Lobster was served 2 times. Once as the entrée with monkfish (I asked for 2 tails and no monkfish) and once as a side entrée. They did a good job preparing it and you could have as many tails as you wanted. The islands were fabulous. We especially enjoyed visiting the Arizona Memorial and then walking on Waikiki Beach on Christmas Eve. We took a whale watching charter in Maui and were not disappointed. One blew petty close to our boat…we heard it and smelled a fresh sea smell that I will never forget. It was awesome. I would go back to the islands just to see the whales again. The Diamond is a wonderful ship with many deck areas and places to enjoy on the at sea days. This was especially important to us since we had an inside cabin. We sure put the aft Terrace Pool deck area to good use. Like someone said on an earlier review, the 15 Day Diamond Hawaii cruise is like 3 cruises: 5 wonderful at sea days, 5 wonderful island days and 5 wonderful at sea days. Hmmmm. Wish I could be on the Diamond right now. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
Background - We're a young 30 something couple who have thoroughly enjoyed our last 7 cruises (3 of which have been with Princess). We have sailed on two other Hawaiian cruises with Norwegian and sailed through Hilo and Maui on a 30 ... Read More
Background - We're a young 30 something couple who have thoroughly enjoyed our last 7 cruises (3 of which have been with Princess). We have sailed on two other Hawaiian cruises with Norwegian and sailed through Hilo and Maui on a 30 day cruise with Princess. We have also stayed on most of the islands in the past, so we know Hawaii pretty well. This was however our first cruise from Los Angeles. We booked this trip less than 2 months before the cruise and were wait-listed for a month and a half. We found out we were matched on the wait-list for an inside stateroom about 1.5 weeks before we were to sail. Because of the late match, Princess was unable to sell us transfers, but assured us we could purchase them when we arrived in LAX. Embarkation - Being that we live in Northern California, we flew down the day of the trip and did not experience any problems. We were very relieved to find a Princess representative waiting in the airport terminal and she was more than happy to sell us a transfer to the ship. We were whisked away to our bus and loaded up. I will say that our luggage was haphazardly loaded onto a luggage cart and while we were waiting on the bus to leave, one of the luggage carts carrying some fellow passenger's luggage was dumped to the ground. In the end, our luggage made it to the room in one piece. The bus took about 45 minutes to get to the ship and the check-in process was very smooth. In fact, we got on the ship so quickly, that we checked into our room and immediately bolted back off the ship to do some quick shopping for bottled water and snacks or our stateroom at the crew store next door to the port. My wife was ecstatic when she found that the crew store was stocked with Cadbury chocolates from the UK! Ship - The Diamond Princess was the largest ship we had ever sailed on. We were a little concerned that it would seem too crowded, but overall the cruise seemed roomy and we never felt over-crowded. Our room was a nice size (did I mention we got a free upgrade to an Oceanview -- all that waitlist waiting paid off in the end). We were on deck 5 (Plaza) which meant we were right next to the Atrium, coffee bar, etc. We really liked the location except that the hallway reeked of cigarette smoke. The other thing we didn't like was that the Santa Fe restaurant where we usually ate dinner was on deck 6, but if we went up to deck 6 from our cabin, we had to walk through the casino which also reeked of smoke. Dining - All I can say about dining on the Diamond Princess is... Santa Fe! We ate in the Santa Fe every night. We enjoyed the waitstaff, the food and most especially the free guacamole and chips! We also ate breakfast in the International restaurant. We love being served our food and the opportunity to meet new people. Coffee - This is one area where I need to vent... I had just been on a 30-day Princess cruise on the Sun Princess and thoroughly enjoyed the coffee/espresso card. My wife and I enjoy our hot mochas in the morning and free hot chocolates in the afternoon and evenings. Turns out that Princess has changed their policy on the coffee cards and now mochas are not included (guess the couple squeezes of hersheys chocolate got too expensive) and the hot chocolates were no longer free. After arguing with the barista, I went to the front desk several times to ask for an official policy on the card. They all promised me they'd get me the information, but no one ever did. Finally on about the 4th day, I went back to the front desk and asked them to look in their computer for a policy. The person working at the front desk said he couldn't. The person next to him looked up the information on the computer and found that the card did include mochas and that hot chocolates were free. When I asked him to print it out, he said he couldn't. Being a computer guy, I was in shock that they couldn't print from their computer... Anyhow, finally ran into the guy in charge of food and beverages and he informed me that the policies had recently changed with the cards, but that he would send a memo to his bar staff and that I would get the same perks as my last cruise. In the end, I never got a free chocolate. They stamped my card every time... Activities - I'm not sure if it was because this was a holiday cruise or not, but the Diamond Princess had so many activities onboard each sea day, we were running ragged just to keep up. It was great to see Keenan, one of the cruise director's staff from our last cruise running trivias and other events. Brad, one of the CD staff was fabulous at running trivia and we had a blast. Princess also offered a couple nights of Wii competitions (tennis one night and guitar hero another), those nights were packed out with young people. Spa - I have to comment on the spa because we spent an abnormal amount of time in the spa this trip. This was the first time we experienced a ship which offered "The Sanctuary". This place is amazing! Four hot stone beds, three steam rooms of varying degrees of heat and the tropical showers made for a great wind-down from working out or a night on the ship. This adult-only sanctuary was only $170 for the two of us for the entire trip. We could go in any time we wanted from the advertised hours of 8am-8pm. Turns out, you could actually stay in there till 10pm most nights, so we had it to ourselves on those nights. My wife also got a massage and some other treatments and loved it. I will say there were a few days where there was pretty strong moldy smell in the sanctuary, but after a few complaints, they quickly fixed the problem and it smelled great for the remainder of the trip. Service - Perhaps we're just really easy going, but we don't take for granted any of the great service we receive on the ship. We did not have any bad experiences with service. We did hear "horror" stories from some people, but IMHO, the horror stories were more caused by grumpy Americans. I think I'll stop here. Shore Excursions - Being that my wife and I have been to Hawaii several times, we decided to pick some excursions we had never tried before and we had a blast on every one. Our first excursion was a private charter with another CC member where we did a full day of deep sea fishing and snorkeling in Kona. While we didn't catch any fish, we had a good time and really enjoyed snorkeling. In Oahu, we rode the $2 bus to the Polynesian Cultural Center after spending some time shopping in the Aloha tower shops and near the Ala Moana Center. I had purchased the PCC tickets in advance for $78, so in all, I saved $80/person from what Princess was charging for the excursion. The bus ride was 1.5 hours there and 1 hour back. In Kauai on Christmas Day, we did the Fern Grotto cruise and hung out at the beach near the Marriott where the ship was docked. My wife really enjoyed the Fern Grotto, I thought it was a little boring. The Fern Grotto guide pointed out that the ferns that were growing downward were only about 4-5 ft, whereas in years past they had been 20-30 ft, but a huge storm had destroyed most of it. The drive to the waterfalls and the river cruise wasn't that bad though. In Hilo, I did the ATV on the ranch and near the ocean cliffs -- had a great time. My wife went on the Hilo ECO Safari and loved it. They went to a zoo that had exotic animals that people attempted to smuggle into Hawaii like sloths, white tigers, etc. They also went to a thermal pool that she was amazing. She didn't get in for fear of bacteria. In Maui we did the Snorkel Cruise which included Molokini and turtle bay. Molokini was alright, but didn't live up to the hype for me. Much of the coral was dead and the fish weren't that great. I've seen better snorkeling for free near Black Rock in front of the Sheraton at Kaanapali Beach. On the way back, we hit huge winds and waves. We were on the second deck of the boat and waves and water were splashing us. The waves were too big for the turtles at Turtle Bay so we went on to a place near Lahaina where the water was too murky to see anything. I don't really recommend this tour, but at least I can say now I've been to Molokini Crater. Disembarkation - This was by far the smoothest Princess disembarkation I've ever seen. It was a far cry from the fist fights encountered disembarking in SF from our Mexico cruise last year. I like the way they have everyone wait in the public rooms like the Wheelhouse lounge. I almost forgot to mention though, when I attempted to disembark, I was stopped by security. Turns out that the separate account I had opened to track my internet expenses so my company could reimburse me (imagine making me work on vacation...) did not get associated with my credit card as I had asked them to do. Apparently they closed my primary account, but left the internet account open without a credit card to pay it. When I went to the front desk, they explained what had happened. My wife had already disembarked and she had my credit card. They were finally able to pay the account using the credit card on file for the other account through some tedious manual process. Finally the account was closed and I was able to disembark. If it hadn't been for the separate account, this would've been the smoothest disembarkation of 3000 passengers I had ever seen. Summary - All in all, this was a great cruise and definitely achieved two primary goals for us - being away from family for the holidays and being in Hawaii for the holidays. The CD staff did a great job of keeping everyone busy with arts and crafts and trivias. We met some great new friends from England and California and overall had a great time! Definitely appreciate all the great information shared on the cruise critic website. I hope you find this review useful. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
Our Christmas Holiday cruise on the Diamond was by far the best out of our now seven cruises. It was the first time we have gone on vacation during the holidays and Princess did an excellent job of creating a very special and festive ... Read More
Our Christmas Holiday cruise on the Diamond was by far the best out of our now seven cruises. It was the first time we have gone on vacation during the holidays and Princess did an excellent job of creating a very special and festive cruise. Traveling were myself, my husband and our 13 year old son and 8 year old daughter. Embarkation: We arrived at the port about 1:30 p.m. and although there was a line it moved quickly and we were on the ship and in our stateroom within an hour. The amazing thing was how quickly our luggage was delivered. We had just returned to our room after a quick trip to the buffet and our luggage was already arriving. By the time we went up for sail away I had already pretty much unpacked and put up our little Christmas tree and all of our decorations. Room and Ship: We had an ocean view room on the Plaza deck right at midship and we really loved it. It was very convenient to the dining areas, Princess Theatre, Casino and most of the lounges and activities onboard. Our stateroom was very nice and there was plenty of storage space. Our steward, Robert, was friendly and efficient and even made us our first towel animal on a Princess Cruise. The ship itself is beautiful and the Christmas decorations made it feel so festive. There were Christmas trees and garland everywhere and as we drew closer to Christmas they kept adding decorations in the atrium until it truly was a Christmas wonderland, complete with gingerbread village and Santa's sleigh and reindeer flying overhead. Entertainment/Activities: I cannot say enough about the variety of entertainment and activities on our cruise. David Cole was an excellent Cruise Director and his entire staff was really fun and friendly. They all went out of their way everyday to make sure we had a great time. We really enjoyed the trivia, spelling bees and some of the themed evenings like 70's night and Mardi Gras. There were crafts a couple times a day as well as lectures and other special activities. My daughter and I really enjoyed taking the hula classes and performing in the hula show at the end of the cruise. They also offered frequent ukulele classes. There were some very talented singers/musicians onboard. We enjoyed listening to the music of Elua by the outdoor pool, at Club Fusion we had lots of fun dancing to the pop songs by Passion and in the Explorers Lounge you could find classic rock performed by Rock the Boat. The production shows were good. Some we had seen on our previous cruise so we didn't attend all of them, but the ones we did see were professional and entertaining. I loved our sea days and can't imagine anyone ever feeling bored. We had a hard time fitting in everything we wanted to do. Special Holiday Activities: Being onboard during the holidays just added so much to the whole experience. As I said earlier the ship was beautifully decorated, they had "snow" falling in the atrium on several evenings and there were many special Christmas/New Year activities. Here are just a few: • Christmas crafts (pins, wreaths, bookmarks, etc.) • Gingerbread House building competition judged by the Captain and Chef • "Gift of the Magi" Special Holiday Production Show just for this cruise • Caroling in the Atrium • Virtual Fireplace on our Stateroom TV with constant Christmas music • Christmas movies • Christmas eve and Christmas morning religious services • Holiday Fun Fair for kids (cookie decorating, games, face painting) and most importantly a visit from Santa Claus with a nice present for each child. • New Year's Eve festivities all over the ship with hats, streamers, horns, champagne and balloon drop in the atrium. There was a special feeling onboard, kind of like a big family celebration. I loved sitting in the atrium with my daughter singing Christmas carols with fellow passengers, officers and crew on Christmas Eve while the "snow" fell from above. At the risk of sounding completely sappy, it felt almost magical. Food: Overall the food was very good to excellent. We had Anytime Dining and ate in the Savoy Dining room every evening but one when we went to our luau. We were fortunate to find two excellent servers on our very first night and so we went back to them each night for the rest of our cruise. Thanks to Yves and Christopher we enjoyed the convenience of anytime dining with the absolute wonderful, personal service you tend to receive only in traditional dining. They knew our drink preferences and always brought us extra of everything until we had to beg for mercy because we couldn't eat one more bite. They were wonderful with our kids and entertained them with magic tricks and jokes. I am so grateful that we had the good fortune to end up in their station that first night. For breakfast and lunch we ate mainly in the buffet or at the Grill/Pizza area on deck by the pool. We really liked the Pizza and the made to order omelets. We also enjoyed the warm cookies and the ice cream sundae bar at the buffet in the afternoons. Kids Program: The Kids Program for my daughter was very good. They had a nice variety of activities and crafts everyday. She made several friends her age and had a great time. She especially enjoyed being in the youth talent show. My son didn't really participate much in the organized teen club activities. He attended a few events, but found the average age of the teens at these activities to be older so he felt a bit uncomfortable. He had more fun just hanging out at the pool and meeting kids his own age there. Ports: Since the ports in Hawaii are fairly easy to navigate we didn't take any ship sponsored shore excursions and instead opted to do things on our own. Kona: Through research on the CC Hawaii Board I found Kona Seasports, a private charter boat in Kona that does a combination fishing/snorkeling trip and booked that for our family. Since they can accommodate up to 6, we were fortunate enough to find two wonderful CC friends to join us. Although we didn't catch any fish, we snorkeled at Kealakekua Bay which was gorgeous and saw whales and dolphins. The weather was perfect and we had a great time. When we returned to Kona we just strolled around town, bought a few things and enjoyed some outrageously huge and delicious shave ices. Honolulu: As the daughter of a WWII vet it is very important to me that my children understand its significance so Pearl Harbor was our main priority. When the ship docked at 7 a.m. we were ready to disembark and were among the very first people to get off. We grabbed a taxi and we were at Pearl Harbor by about 7:20 a.m., just 10 minutes before its official opening time. The line was already very long, but it moved quickly and we were able to get a 9 a.m. tour ticket, which was perfect as it gave us an hour to spend in the museum prior to going out to the Arizona Memorial. There is no charge for visiting the museum or Memorial, but we opted to purchase the audio tour for $5 per person and it was well worth it. We also met and talked with a Pearl Harbor survivor which was very special. The whole experience was extremely moving. Our next priority was a visit to the USS Missouri where we went on one of the guided tours. What an amazing thing it is to stand on the deck under the huge guns, to see the dent in the ship that still remains where it was struck and damaged by a kamikaze, and to follow the path taken by Nimitz, MacArthur and Halsey as they descended to sign the treaty that ended WWII in the Pacific. The historical magnitude is overwhelming. The guided tour takes you to some areas that aren't open to those coming onboard with just general admission, so I highly recommend it in order to get the most out of the experience. By the time we finished up it was already mid-afternoon and we were tired and hungry so we headed back to the ship to grab a bite to eat and get ready for our evening luau at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. The setting on Waikiki beach at sunset with Diamond Head looming in the distance was amazing and the hotel itself is beautiful and very historic. Overall we really enjoyed the luau, even though the food was just OK and the entertainment was a bit clichEd at times. It was the only evening luau that worked with our port schedules and it gave us the taste of Aloha we were searching for in an exceptionally lovely setting so I was happy to overlook some of the less than spectacular things. But I'm a glass half full kind of gal! Kauai: Since we were in Kauai on Christmas Day I imagined that many things would be closed so I reserved a convertible and our plan was just to spend some time at the beach and explore the island which is exactly what we did. We started the day by heading to the beach at Poipu and spending some time there. It was a very nice beach, but the weather was pretty windy so we didn't stay too long. We hopped back in the convertible, headed north and made stops at a couple of water falls, scenic areas and the lighthouse. The convertible was great and really enabled us to enjoy the scenery which is breathtaking, except for a brief interlude when the sky literally opened up out of nowhere and drenched us before we could get the top back up. We were soaked but having fun! Hilo: We also rented a car in Hilo so we could explore on our own. We headed first to the black sand beach at Punalu'u which is about an hours drive from Hilo. The drive itself is really scenic and takes you past Volcanoes National Park. We had a great view of Mauna Loa and were amazed to see snow on its peak. The black sand beach is something right off of a postcard, surrounded by swaying palm trees with turtles basking on the beach. It was gorgeous. After spending some time enjoying the beach we backtracked and headed to Volcanoes National Park. Seeing the volcano was a must do for us and we spent a couple of hours there enjoying all the incredible sites like the crater, steam vents, and lava tube. On our way back to Hilo we made a stop at the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Farm, did the self-guided tour and enjoyed some yummy macadamia ice cream. Maui: This was the port we chose for a relaxing beach day. We took the bus from Lahaina to Kaanapali beach, a bargain at $1 per person each way. It drops you right at Whalers Village and we walked down the beach and rented beach chairs and an umbrella from the Kaanapali Beach Hotel and happily planted ourselves for the day. We swam and snorkeled and just relaxed. The bus back was an adventure as there were so many people headed back to the ship it was literally standing room only, but thankfully it's a short ride and the price was right. Back in Lahaina we did a little shopping and then headed back to the ship. It was a perfect end to our five days in Hawaii! Debarkation: So easy it was almost unbelievable! We were instructed to be at our designated area at 8:25 a.m. which to my husband's delight was the Casino, a place he had grown very fond of during our cruise. We waited only about 15 minutes before our color was called and we were off the ship with our luggage collected and on the curb waiting for our ride precisely at 9 a.m. Summary: This was truly a fantastic family vacation and Christmas holiday. It was so nice to just spend time with my family and not have to deal with the usual holiday demands and stresses. The added bonus was getting to meet so many friendly and interesting people all the while enjoying a joyful but also relaxing holiday on the ship and in a beautiful place like Hawaii. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
We drove over from Fort Mohave, AZ on 12/17 and stayed the night at the Double Tree Inn in San Pedro. Their package included free parking, breakfast, a bottle of Champagne, free shuttle to and from the cruise terminal and of course their ... Read More
We drove over from Fort Mohave, AZ on 12/17 and stayed the night at the Double Tree Inn in San Pedro. Their package included free parking, breakfast, a bottle of Champagne, free shuttle to and from the cruise terminal and of course their great warm chocolate cookie upon check-in. We had a lovely king room overlooking the marina and L/A Yacht Club. All of this was for $194 which was less then parking at the cruise terminal for fifteen days. We shuttled to the terminal shortly after 11:00, a porter took our bags immediately and while we were processed quickly, we had about a 45 min. wait until we could board. My wife has MS and had requested a wheelchair to board, she had to wait considerable time until the terminal staff could produce a chair from the ship. Our luggage did not arrive at our room until well into the evening which kind of made us think that perhaps first on gets their luggage last and vice versa. Diamond Princess is a gorgeous ship, she is well laid out and wonderfully fitted and appointed for passengers' enjoyment and comfort. Capt. Perrin and his crew were very pleasant and made us all feel very welcome. We had a terrific room steward, Ricardo, who was most of attentive to our needs. Our cabin was always neat and tidy and well stocked with fresh towels, linens, ice and fruit. We were very pleased with our balcony cabin on the Aloha deck. It was well planned out and made to look a lot larger than it really was. Great closet and drawer space for 2 people for 15 days. The balcony furniture was also well sized and made for easy movement on the balcony. The only criticism we would have is the size of the shower, it would probably work better for a big person like myself if there was a shower wand rather than a fixed showerhead. Traditional dining in the International room had been our choice, but did find that 5:45 pm was just a little too early for us but we knew that 8:15 pm was just going to be too late. Our senior waiter always professed that we wanted to do well but never quite measured up and seemed intent on pushing our 4 or 5 course dinner on us in 75 to 85 and having us out the door. His assistant, candidly, was better than him but it was their first trip together and it showed. We found that the food at the beginning was average at best however from Christmas onwards did improve quite markedly, very clever Princess. Lunches were generally good but breakfast in the International was a real adventure. The morning waiters seemed to be mainly Asian and many had real trouble with English. If you ever got exactly what you ordered it was miraculous. Oh, and don't bother ordering the Eggs Benedict, unless you want to be very disappointed. We tried several anytime dinners at both the SantE Fe and Pacific Moon room, had no trouble be seated after 7:00, found the staff to be very good and the meal presentation much improved over the International. You also seem to get different tablemates each evening which tends to make the evening much more stimulating. So on our next cruise it will be goodbye traditional dining and hello anytime dining for us. We had booked tours through Princess and they were all operated by Roberts. We found the buses comfortable, the tours interesting and the guides very good. Unfortunately the wait at the Arizona memorial far exceeded our worst fears. It had been suggested that wait could be about 2 hours, well between lining up for our tickets and then waiting for the start of the program it was closer to 3 ½ hours so by the time we got to the memorial it really was quite anti-climatic. Christmas day coincided with our visit to Kauai and as a consequence, and understandably so, a number of the tours and sites were not operating or closed. After spending a quiet morning by ourselves, opening gifts, having Champaign and making Christmas calls to family and friends at home we ventured ashore and hired a taxi for an 1 ½ hours to show us some of the sights. The driver had lived on the island for many years, was very informative and we quite enjoyed our mini-tour with him. The disembarkation, where there was tendering involved, was really quite tedious. This was particularly so in Lahaina where it seemed that one small concrete quay was shared by any number of tour operators and ferries, all waiting their turn. These circumstances were not Princess's fault but we should have been forewarned. For no particular reason, we decided that we would go ashore at about 10:30 AM for our tour that departed at 1:00 PM. Well fortunately we did as we sat in the Explorers lounge for over an hour waiting for the call for our tender. Finally at about 11:45 I went back to the desk and reminded the people that my wife was disabled and would need extra time to get to the tender platform. They then suggested that we should go right away or we would miss our tour. When we saw the line up for docking at the quay we understood why. Some of the entertainment, particularly the stage productions, the illusionist and the comedian were really quite good. However many of the evenings in the Princess Theatre were rather bland and boring and on more than one evening we got up and left. We had 3 teenage brothers staying alone in the cabin immediately behind us who spent the entire trip completely unsupervised. Their days and particularly nights were spent drinking, doing drugs and playing video games in their cabin. They crashed around in the cabin at all hours, using the "f" word and yelling at the top of their lungs. In the cabin in front of us there was a family who had 2 teenage daughters and when their folks went out for the evening turned the family's cabin into party central. There were the young children who would yell and scream in the hall and one night raced a wheel chair up and down the hall then left it abandoned in the elevator lobby. We did raise two sons who likely in their day did all of the above, they certainly weren't saints, but we didn't pay to hear this night after night. Princess had done a great job decorating for Christmas and New Years and there were certainly lots of activities and events. We thought it was a great venue for families and extended families to enjoy the holidays together, plus there was no cleaning up after the big family dinner. But all too often these same families rather inflicted their rowdy, spoiled and undisciplined children on the rest of us while they enjoyed themselves in their adult activities. The good children were very good but the bad ones were just a little too much to take and we are people who ordinarily love to have children around. Diamond Princess had to travel some great distances on a very tight schedule. For a ship her size and weight we felt that there was far too much motion and suspect that the stabilizers were not deployed or not fully deployed as they tend to slow the ship down. This did have the effect of making things uncomfortable for many of the passengers both those who are subject to motion sickness and those who have mobility problems. With my wife's disability we were directed to muster in the Internet Cafe for disembarkation in LA. We were left waiting there for a good 45 minutes before being escorted ashore. However once ashore, we found a porter and our luggage in short order, called the Double Tree Inn and were picked up promptly. In summary, we generally enjoy ourselves, the stops in the islands were all to brief but we knew that when we bought the package, however that said, it did give us a flavor for each of the islands. We met some very nice people and had a very relaxing time (afternoon naps where a mainstay) particularly with the number of sea days. It should be remembered though, passengers do pay a premium for cruises over the holidays and for us at least, we didn't really feel we got full value for that premium for the reasons noted above and probably would not rush to do a Christmas/New Years cruise soon. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
We booked this cruise last spring with another couple. It is our 12th cruise and first with Princess. Our cruise partners are Platinum Princess travelers. Arrived a day early and stayed near LAX in a Marriott. We took the supershuttle from ... Read More
We booked this cruise last spring with another couple. It is our 12th cruise and first with Princess. Our cruise partners are Platinum Princess travelers. Arrived a day early and stayed near LAX in a Marriott. We took the supershuttle from the hotel to the port. Call ahead for reservations from the hotel so you don't have to go back to the airport to catch it. Checkin was efficient and we went directly to our room. Within a few hours our luggage arrived. Our balcony stateroom had plenty of closet and shelf space for our overpacked luggage. The cabin steward, Jose, was most helpful throughout the trip. We chose early seating dining and had a table for four. Great service each night, although the staff did seem overworked probably due to the full ship. The menu was varied and food served hot, unlike some of the other ships we have traveled on. The ports were terrific but having been to Hawaii many times we didn't take the organized trips. In Kona one can get off the ship and rent snorkeling equipment on the pier and take a shuttle to a beautiful beach. Saves much money. Other ports had similar opportunities. The ship was very large but one never felt crowded. Did not have to wait on lines for anything. We didn't go to any shows but took advantage of the after dinner dancing in the lounges. The combos were very good and played music that everyone could dance to. I usually can find something to complain about but there was not one thing to annoy me except for the smoking permitted in the rooms. The people in the cabin next to mine smoked alot and the odor traveled through the hallway and around the balcony and seemed to be everywhere in that area on the Caribe deck. Smoking should not be permitted except in the lounges or outside. Ashes had flown onto my balcony and there were burn holes in the patio chairs from it. I feel sorry for the next occupants of that room. We did the walk off disembarkation and took the super shuttle back to LAX and arrived at the terminal at 0830. Great trip, but if you want to be warm the Caribbean is for you. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
We took this same cruise 2 years ago on Celebrity cruise Line and it was "the one foot in the grave cruise". The whole cruise from start to finish was a pure nightmare due the the Celebrity personnel. This time it was over ... Read More
We took this same cruise 2 years ago on Celebrity cruise Line and it was "the one foot in the grave cruise". The whole cruise from start to finish was a pure nightmare due the the Celebrity personnel. This time it was over Christmas and New Years and it was the best ONE we have have had in our 20+ cruises. We arrived at the LA port around 1 pm and within 30 minutes we were in our room and had met our wonderful room steward, Carmelo. Our luggage started to arrive almost immediately and so we just started to unpack and one and by they appeared. By dinner time, we only had one bag left to arrive and put away. What a wonderful way to start to not be inundated with baggage all at once. My husband is handicap due to a stroke and heart attack (we don't get handicap rooms as we prefer suites for roominess)so most of the "work" is left up to me. My room steward offered to help immediately...I have NEVER had one do this much less help. On Celebrity we had a butler, room steward and asst room steward and NO ONE offered to to do anything and did nothing except if we asked, what a difference. We had not sailed on Princess for a while, but we got to thinking, no one cruise line is perfect, but we actually liked Princess better overall is why we chose them for this special cruise. We figured this would be my husband's last one and we really wanted it to be special. No one new this on board, so the "special ness" that Princess showed us and everyone one was even nicer than expected. They really went overboard to please everyone. Our waiter, Jesse James (yes that was his name from the Philippines) and his asst Salvator, were just absolutely over the top also on pleasing us. The maitre d was just the best also when he realized the table assigned just wouldn't work for us and immediately offered us a perfect table right by the front for my husband and made sure every night he had a chair without arms for him to get easily out and in of the chair. How thoughtful!! We just had a wonderful, relaxing cruise...didn't do the shows, too much on my husband. We just wanted to spend time together and make loving memories. Getting off the boat in a scooter is difficult, again we just did what we could and knew all the time spent together was what it was all about. The food was the usual selections, always something new and exciting to try from deer to buffalo roast. I wanted to try a little just to see if I like it, and so I got a nice little sample to say I ate it. How accommodating this was and nice. Where else can you taste all of these wonderful delights? The buffet was wonderful as they just told me to get my food and had someone always walk with my husband in his wheelchair and then brought the food to the table. It made it very easy on me so I didn't have to get two plates of food. The selection was always very nice also. The fish and chips were over the top and the best tartar sauce I have ever had. My husband loves soups and the selections were always pleasing to his taste buds. What was also nice was the new thing they do by showing some of the night time shows over again during the day time....this was a real treat for the families and us to see them so my husband could get his required sleep, extra hours than most people need. This was a very thoughtful new item Princess added. As usual, always things to do, too many to chose from. The casino was a little slow at paying out on the slot machines I found. I eventually found a couple of 25 centers and one dollar that just paid back enough to be able to play on and on for over an hour. Just some nice fun...I did hit a couple of jackpots..was smart and left when I won. Met some wonderful people and I just love the new cash card system where you put your winnings on your cruise card completely separate from your regular cruise account. It was safer than caring money and you always knew if you were winning or losing too. Way to go Princess. All in all, I was very pleased as was my husband and I owe a lot to my room steward and restaurant personnel for the extra attention they gave the guests, not just us. They fully understand that the customer is US and that they are there for US and that without US, they wouldn't have a job. I definitely would love another cruise on Princess as soon as possible, but probably will not be able due to my husband. So I have these wonderful memories of this one to just relive and relive. THANK YOU PRINCESS FOR TREATING MY HUSBAND NOT LIKE A PRINCE BUT A KING!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
Our 16 day cruise from 11-18-07 to 12-3-07 on the Diamond Princess was quite a disappointment. This was our 8th cruise (4th with Princess) and this was the worst one. Two days into our cruise we came down with the Norovirus and spent 7 ... Read More
Our 16 day cruise from 11-18-07 to 12-3-07 on the Diamond Princess was quite a disappointment. This was our 8th cruise (4th with Princess) and this was the worst one. Two days into our cruise we came down with the Norovirus and spent 7 days confined to our stateroom by the ships medical department. We later found that many others caught this Norovirus as well. We were told that if we were caught outside of our stateroom the first time we would be escorted back. The second time we would be put off the ship at the next port. But we were to sick to even think about leaving the room. That meant no cabin service to clean the room and if you felt like eating, very limited lite diet food from room service. We missed the first three port calls in Hawaii and our shore excursions. After improving health wise and being allowed to leave the cabin we found the food in the dinning room to be the worst we have ever experienced on a cruise ship. The Horizon Buffet was not much better. We also found dried food on clean plates and silverware. We were given dirty glasses with lipstick prints. We spent many of our lunch and dinners eating from the hamburger bar near the pool. We found that many other passengers were eating there as well because of the terrible food the both the dinning room and the buffet. We also experienced many rude employees in the dinning rooms, in the buffet area and at the purser's desk. We missed half of the shows due to sickness. We missed others because there were no seats available. Of the shows we did see, many were very poor quality of entertainment. Several of the public restrooms had a bad smell and were not clean. We stayed away from them and used our stateroom. This was our 4th cruise with Princess and we have been extremely happy with past cruises, but they really missed the boat on this cruise. The stateroom was nice. The ship was beautiful but it was very obvious the service was lacking for the amount of passengers unless you ordered drinks. There seemed to be an endless amount of bar waiters. The Debarkation process was a nightmare due to a bomb threat that delayed everything for two and a half hours. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
Diamond Princess - 15 day Hawaii cruise - November 3 to 18, 2007 Background: This was our 6th Princess cruise and 1st to Hawaii. We have visited Hawaii many, many times so excursions were not high on our list of things to do as we had ... Read More
Diamond Princess - 15 day Hawaii cruise - November 3 to 18, 2007 Background: This was our 6th Princess cruise and 1st to Hawaii. We have visited Hawaii many, many times so excursions were not high on our list of things to do as we had our favorite places to go to. Embarkation: Flew in from Oakland and took the Princess transfer. No problem finding the "greeter" in the baggage area. Usual problem where had to wait till a bus arrived as well as enough people to fill it. Flight landed around 11 a.m., transfer around 12:15, in cruise terminal around 12:45. Lines were long and even though had priority with Platinum level, still waited for some time. On board around 1:30. Lots of "challenged" elderlies on cruise with walkers, wheelchairs and larks. LA terminal is not the greatest but they could do a lot better using the method used on our Baltic cruise. There, we were batched into groups, given numbers and a seating area to wait in. Then groups were called up in order so you didn't have to spend time standing in a long line. Cabin: We went financially challenged on this cruise and had an inside cabin on Caribe deck. Inside is better arranged since no balcony door to deal with so has a much nicer and larger desk and drawer setup and therefore more useable room. Showers were the normal wash the walls and curtain as the ship rocks and look out for flooding the floor. Dining Room: Diamond Princess has 5 dining rooms. Essentially though, they cut two large rooms on most ships in two on the 5th and 6th deck and named them Vivaldi and Savoy on the 5th and Pacific Moon and Santa Fe on the 6th. The International dining room in the aft 5th deck is one large for fixed seating as well as the 6:00 seating in the Savoy. The other 3 rooms and 8 p.m. on in the Savoy were for anytime dining. We started our "anytime" in the Pacific Moon but had very slow service so then tried the Santa Fe where we had better luck and excellent service from Rui and Ernesto. So from then on we fixed a regular reservation time of 8 p.m. at their station. Note that as you leave the dining room, you can ask the host/hostess to reserve the same time and table for the next day. Food was very good per normal but meat quality seems to be slipping as I seem to recall tastier and tender cuts. Same for lobster. We had two nights of lobster but in both cases, it came with either fish or shrimp where in the past lobster was served by itself. Had frog legs, venison. rabbit and buffalo meat offered also. All and all, food was good. Horizon Buffet: The buffet for breakfast and lunch also seems to be slipping in quality as no papaya's were out but available if you knew to ask. Same for strawberries but they did have a lot of pineapple wedges to eat. We purchased the coke passes and used it quite a bit. Cost was $4 per day but well worth it if you drink a lot. Service in Horizon was okay for the most part but did notice that they had helpers readily available to help those who couldn't manage well. We didn't need such assistance but thought that was a great service for those who did. There were extra touches such as a chocolate buffet, asian (sushi and ...), Mexican, German sausage which were nice. Pizzeria was good as well as the hamburger/hot dog grill with fresh French fries. Didn't eat at Sterlings as don't think it's worth the extra cost to sit in the closed off buffet area and the extra $20 for Sabatini's just doesn't seem to be worth it to stuff my self beyond capacity to justify that amount. We've eaten at both in the past and did enjoy them but not sure they are worth continually repeating on different cruises. Had one day of afternoon tea and it was okay but the service seemed to be lacking as they seemed to have a get them in and out as fast as you can mentality. Shows: The shows were good but not spectacular as the main singers were not too good. They just didn't have the dynamic range and projection of singers we have seen in the past. Some shows like I Got the Music was poorly arranged with songs which didn't fit the general themes and thrown in for some reason. The dancers were good and quite lively with very energetic routines. The other entertainers were mostly quite good and we enjoyed their shows. Some were moved around and held in the Explorer's lounge which meant you had to go 30 minutes early to get a seat. Same for the Princess theater if they had an 8:45 show which you wanted to attend. Shows at 7 p.m. and especially the 10:30 were not as difficult to get seats for. Some main shows were repeated at noon or 1 p.m. the next day. Activities: My wife liked attending many of the craft activities on board such as the ceramic, paper folding and arts and crafts. Most seemed to be well done but some run by a cruise staff and not a special person were not as good. The cruise director was David Cole and he was awful to watch on the TV program. When he MC'd a show he was very good but his morning shows were awful. Might as well just read the Patter as his goofy style just obscured any useful information he might have had. We've never seen such a poorly run show as his was. He also seemed to think he knew it all but apparently didn't do the research as some information he gave out was very, very bad such as stating that the all goods were returning U.S. items so you didn't have to declare anything. If that was the case, why did the stores close. The question on the custom declaration is whether the goods are duty free or not. If the are duty free, then why did the shops close while in port. I don't think he understood the term duty free. I'm sure princess was selling duty free items so had to be declared for custom purpose. Not so according to our brilliant cruise director. He also tries to skew the passenger survey by saying that marking good was a failing grade and only excellent was a passing grade. Basically good was 60% but excellent was really only 90% so if didn't like some things, could still be an excellent. Should mention that most of his staff though were very nice and easy to get along with. Gym: Being portly, I tend to attempt the gym and used it for 3 hours a day on the sea days. There were plenty of treads and ellipticals but only 2 seating bikes with one other broken and never fixed in 15 days. Not enough bikes and probably trying to get people to take the bike class which has plenty of them for their use only. Individual TVs on most pieces and suggest you bring your own head set. Plenty of towels and alcohol wipes are provided. Not many kids on the cruise as average age must have been 65 to 70 so didn't have them little ones showing up trying to use the equipment. Also as you have to go through the spa reception folks, this also probably kept them out of there. In general equipment was good but per normal needed more maintenance. Rarely saw anyone looking at equipment or testing them. Casino: Good casino with some penny and 2 cent machines. Tables had a lot of beginners and not many players so many $3 min. days and lots of really bad blackjack players who didn't know what they were doing. Slots had a great feature where cruise card was used to maintain a casino account or could pull money from your cruise account to play with. Couldn't put your money back into the cruise account. so had to cash out your casino account if you had a surplus prior to last closing day. Bingo: We played Bingo a couple of times and especially on the last day as the jackpot was $4000. Unfortunately the callers appear to never have played bingo and have a very poor understanding of how a good caller does the job. Callers should never just talk and use numbers which can confuse the players. They don't use terms liked "fixed" when they want only a specific pattern such as a fixed L. Also on the last day, the caller played 7 lucky numbers which is a bingo when you have 7 numbers. This is a quick game, but can generate a large number of winners as there's lots of combinations. There were 8 winners which took forever to validate. In addition, they used only one validator who collected the winning sheets and then validated them. All you had to have was one bad or incorrect bingo and how was the validator suppose to know who's it really was if the loser said that wasn't his sheet. They thought putting names on the sheets would help but never noticed they had two Bills. Should have winners hold their own sheets till ready to validate and not collect. Again, appears these young cruise people just haven't played bingo so had no idea of the poor job they were doing. Ports and Shore Excursions: As mentioned didn't take tours except for the Kona submarine which was very good as we went down to 112 feet underwater and saw a lot of fishes and two wrecks. Note that in 2008, Kona is being dropped as an island stop and only 14 days will be offered so only 4 island stops. This makes sense for Princess as then departure days as well as port days always will be the same days of the week. Big losers will be us cruisers as it'll be one less great port to go to. I think they were switching ports around to accommodate when other cruises lines had use of the port docking facilities such as our Hilo, Lahaina, Kona rather than Kona second. As we tended to just roam the ports, always seemed to find either a shuttle bus to where we wanted to go or a city bus. Never had to take a taxi. In Hilo caught the city tram shuttle to old town, wandered around there and had a great shave ice. Next port of Lahaina, Maui was right in town as tenders dropped you off at the old Banyan tree so could just walk one block to the main road. Kona was again tender and right near the King Kamehameha hotel on the North end of the main Alii drive. Honolulu was near the Aloha clock tower but NCL was there so we were at the one closer to Waikiki. Not much at this port but again there were shuttles to Wal-Mart or Ala Moana shopping center which were within two blocks of each other. From Ala Moana, you can easily catch the $2 tram into Waikiki or other city buses. Keep in mind that only the tram runs along the beach in Waikiki. Buses run on Kuhio street. Lihue or Kauai was at Nawiliwili port which has nothing close by except some strip malls. Marriott hotel has a beach but can't use their equipment which is by the small strip malls. Weather was great for the days we were in port and in fact for the two weeks of the cruise. Previous cruise apparently had rain each day in port. Ensenada: This was to be a service call to meet the Jones law requirement. Was to be from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. but this was all changed. Princess did a very poor job of explaining and letting people know that we were not going to disembark. This is another reason why the cruise director was not very helpful. Finally asked the Purser (now called Passenger Service) desk what was happening. They said too many ships in port so couldn't dock. So they slowed the ship down to arrive at 5 p.m. and no one was getting off. Just going through the paper formalities with the Mexican port officials. Note that the Platter never had an explanation nor did the Cruise director on his morning TV shows explain this. Very poor communications from Princess and a direct responsibility of the Cruise director. Spa: Wife used the spa service and no problems. Internet: As Platinum level, we received $100 credit for internet which we converted into 250 minute plans. Lots of terminals to use but connection was very, very slow per normal so the plan minutes were chewed up quite quickly due to the slow connections. They had a couple of days where they posted signs saying doing maintenance so internet was closed. Debarkation: Since we didn't disembark at any foreign port you would have thought that immigration would have been pretty informal. Not so with the officers doing their normal questions about what type of work, whether overseas a lot, which countries have been to in the past, ... They didn't seem to understand we only went to Hawaii. Officer mentioned we shouldn't just put down zero dollars of goods as that would cause more problems than a low figure which was contrary to what the Cruise director said. When we told him what the Cruise Director said, the immigration officer stated that the Cruise Director didn't know what he was talking about and I agree with that statement. In any case, no problems getting off though Princess should be able to do a better job of splitting the groups and making it easier all around. They have this herd them off as fast as you can mentality causing a backup at the gangways and crowding around the central areas. We used the Princess transfers to LAX and had no problems. Shortly after we got there with all the cruisers coming into LAX there was a large backup of people trying to check-in. Got caught with the lower luggage weight of 50 pounds which seems to be the new norm so had to shuffle some suitcase items around to meet that limit. Getting through security was fast and no problem. . Summary: All in all, the cruise was very good. We had great weather and no storms. Little rocking when we started out of LA but most of the time it was pretty smooth. Would do this cruise again as the 8 sea days were really nice. I don't like the shortening and removal of the Kailua Kona stop. They can easily skip the 8 hour layover in Ensenada and make it a one hour stop like they did for our trip. In that way should be able to still have 5 Hawaiian port days. Again, seems like Princess is slowly tightening their money pockets and not thinking about us customers. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
Diamond Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 3.5 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.5 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.6
Enrichment 5.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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