We are a couple in our Fifties this was our seventh cruise previously on Princess 2 times, Cunard, Royal Caribbean NCL and Carnival . Our 2 sons (in their twenties were also on this cruise, mainly because of the Itinerary ....effectively a 3 day city break in Tokyo and then a 9 day cruise around southern Japan visiting many of the sites. We booked this because we particularly liked the planned itinerary.
The 3 day pre-cruise break was good, though partially spoilt by the weather, we did not know there was more to come..., We stayed at the Tokyo Grand in the financial district, the double rooms were on the small size... smaller than a Princess ship cabin, though the twin rooms were larger.. okay but a bit tired.
On the first day we did a full day organised coach trip of Tokyo, this was good and they packed a lot in seeing all of the major sites in the central part of Tokyo..
On day 2 were doing a coach trip to mount Fuji with return by Bullet train ride back to Tokyo. Unfortunately Typhoon Phanfone was on the way and visibility all day was negligible, At 5th station... part way up Fuji we could not see the mountain at all, but could smell the sulphur, this trip should have been cancelled. Ironically, the tour operator cancelled the Fuji trip the following day and the weather cleared up after lunch... it would have been great.
On 3rd October We received an e mail from Princess that the ship will be delayed by 1 day due to adverse weather of the forthcoming Typhoon,
On 5th October day we received another e mail confirming that the ship will be delayed by 2 days because of Typhoon Phanfone.
on 7th October we received further e mail confirming ship will be 2 days late but... also advised that the itinerary had been significantly changed instead of visiting 5 ports we were planning only to visit Kobe and Busan in Southern Korea,
After 2 unexpected days in Tokyo with weather improving we caught the various tubes/ train and walking to join the ship in Yokohama.. Taxis were very expensive.. The boarding process took about the same time as other ships that we had been on, though Princess were keen to reinforce the Itinerary change and that the ship would only be going to Kobe and maybe to Southern Korea (weather permitting).
The stateroom C116 an inside cabin was significantly better than our hotel room at the Grand.
Diamond princess is unusual that there is not any-time dining, we opted for the later session at 7.45 this was fine and very similar to previous cruise dining experiences.
We saw one show in the time we were there, a New Zealand comedian who was okay.
The following day after disembarkation went to Kobe, we decided to take the Bullet train under our own steam to Kyoto.. we just about managed the golden temple and rock garden before the shrines close at 5.00 pm (it is dark at 5.30 pm)
We woke the following morning (day 3) Princess advised that we were making a a stop in Osaka, great we can see another part of Japan but at 11.00 am just before were were about to depart ashore a bombshell was dropped.... in order to avoid the path of the next Typhoon we would no longer be going to South Korea and that the ship would be arriving 1 day late in back in Yokohama (Tokyo) so you will need to re-schedule flights. 30 minutes free wifi/ calls was offered per stateroom.
There were 2 choices
1) stay on board have 5 sea days and hope that your agent could re-schedule flights
2) Leave the ship at Asaka ..Princess will provide transport to the train station and reimburse reasonable expenses for ground travel to Tokyo area. We were concerned that we would lose our flights, never experiencing this situation before, and because of the time difference (+ 8Hrs) were not able to consult with travel agent. You were asked to leave by 1 .00 pm this was extended but If you were going to leave you had to be off the ship by 5.00 pm even though the ship did not plan to leave port until 7.00 am the following morning. As you might imagine not a great situation and a great way to spend our 33rd wedding anniversary.
Hobsons choice...we left the ship returning to Tokyo by Bullet train, I am managed to book 1 night at the Tokyo Grand and then further 4 nights at budget hotel I am now locked in dispute with Travel agent/ Insurance neither who will cover any of significant post cruise extra expenses 5 nights in Tokyo rooms X2 on Bank holiday weekend, Fortunately I had only booked budget hotel not even as good as Tokyo Grand but it was still £110 per room per night
Princess offered the return of expenses for 2 missed days and a further 5 missed days if you leave ship plus 50% future cruise credit, but this is considerably less than I had to pay at short notice with rooms in short supply.
The bad weather was unfortunate but we were bitterly disappointed with the way Princess handled this, if there were to be all these sea days why not get back to Yokohama on the scheduled date we would have stayed aboard and avoided all those extra costs.
In summary... despite the weather we really liked Japan, but I have never had a more stressful holiday or post holiday experience. I expect that I will need to involve ABTA to get a least part of my significant extra costs.
It has certainly made me re-think whether cruising is the right way to go, (though we already have one to Hawaii booked) if this had been a land tour would have had 3 days rain minor inconvenience but no other changes required.