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The Good: The itinerary for this cruise was very interesting and took us to some locations not on the usual tour routes for Japan and Taiwan. Even though I had to pay a 100% supplement as a solo cruiser, the price was still fairly good. And since the beginning and ending ports were the same (Kobe), it was easier to get a well-priced round trip ticket to Kansai. The cabins on this ship are not large but I found the storage was quite good. The television had an on-demand system which is wonderful as you no longer had to guess when a movie or ship’s video would be shown. There were also some “live” channels as well. It was nice to have MSNBC and BBC News to counter the idiotic Fox News channel. My cabin attendant, Lancy, was absolutely wonderful. The Shore Excursion department on board was very well managed. Each tour was called individually for passengers to get their bus number and then they were seated in the theatre in order in rows. When the tour bus was ready, each row was called in order to disembark which eliminated the usual pushing and shoving out the door. The Horizon Court, where I ate all but one meal, was one of the best managed ships’ buffets I’ve ever encountered. The serving staff was very friendly and quite quick to clear the tables. And they did an amazing job of satisfying the various ethnic food needs of the diverse passenger backgrounds. Each meal had a fairly balance mix of Japanese, American and other Asian items. The individual items did vary in quality from O.K. to quite good. There was always a salad bar with mixed greens, not just iceberg lettuce. And the Japanese noodle counter was always popular. The desserts varied but were often a bit too fussy for my tastes; however, I loved the simple cupcakes they offered at lunch time. Besides I often went for the chocolate malts at Swirls to satisfy my sweet tooth. The library was fairly well stocked with fiction in both English and Japanese. There was little in the way of non-fiction however. The only on board activity that I found of an intellectual substance was the photo workshop offered by the ship’s photographer. He was very good and I learned a lot. The two main swimming pools were open 24 hours a day—at least technically they were—which was great for an early morning swimmer like me. However, maintenance crew sometimes closed them for cleaning and you could not always predict when that would happen. The Bad: The Kobe cruise terminal experience was a bit disorganized. On embarkation day the usual health forms were not out in the waiting area, but inside the check-in room on a small table. This meant as check-in began everyone had to make a dash to the table and then try to fill out the form while standing in line; and since many new cruisers did not know about the forms, they lined up without them. Those of us with elite/express check-in did not have time to fill the forms out before we got to the check-in counter. Also on change-over day, those passengers who were in transit were given a special card to pass through the terminal. However, we were sent through the customs line even though we had no baggage and had not been given customs forms. Here again it was a mad scramble to fill out a form standing up while holding up disembarking passengers behind us. When we returned to the terminal, no one seemed to know where we were supposed to go to return to the ship. We were sent down and up an elevator and escalator twice before it got worked out. Since Kobe is the “home port” the Diamond, you would think they would have all these glitches worked out by now. Two of the three shore excursions in Taiwan were quite awful. In Hualien, I took the Taroko Gorge and Shopping Tour. The description mentioned a cultural performance, visiting a marble factory, and then time for shopping. The cultural performance was horribly tacky. We were then loaded back on the bus and driven all of about 75 yards to a shed where there was a 5-minute photo stop to see marble being cut. Then back on the bus and driven about another 100 yards to a giant over-priced marble/jade store where the sales force was quite aggressive. Those of us on tour had expected to be taken to an interesting local market area—not this factory store. In Keelung/Taipei there was a bit of a repeat experience. The Highlights of Taipei tour was suppose to consist of a visit to the National Palace Museum (which was fabulous), the Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine (well timed for us to see the changing of the guard), and finally we were suppose to have 45 minutes at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Instead we got 15 minutes at this last place, but an additional 40 minutes stop at another bloody marble/jade store for shopping and a photo stop at Taipei 101. Neither of these two stops was on our printed itinerary. The Fitness Center was far too small for a ship with 2500+ passengers and it did not open until 7 am. I have never been on a ship where the gym opened that late; usually it’s 5 or 6 am. This late opening meant that on port days you really did not have time to use the gym, shower, eat breakfast and still get off on tour on time. The Horizon Court could really do with more two-person tables. At peak times, such as when tours returned at lunch time, you often saw folks wandering around looking for a place to sit. Because of the differing languages on this cruise, passengers seemed to be uncomfortable asking to sit at a large table that had empty seats. The beds in the cabins are very firm. If you want or need a softer bed you need to request a pillow-top or “egg carton” foam added. The inside cabins do not have an armchair even though one is shown on the floor plan on the website. I was very frustrated with the almost total lack of an intellectual content in the on board activities. There were only brief port lectures, but most of those were in Japanese only with a few English notes on the slides. The Future Cruise person seemed to be assigned solely for the benefit of the Japanese passengers. She had no brochures in English. I had read on the Cruise Critic forum that booking would open up for Princess’ exotic 2016 cruises on May 24th, I went to her to ask about them. She had no idea what I was talking about. Indeed she had never even heard of Cruise Critic! I could not stand the noise level in the Atrium which was frustrating as you could not avoid this area if you wanted to use the internet café, the library, the coffee bar, or needed to go to any of the service desks. There was loud music even going at 4 or 5 in the morning—why? And then when the cruise director was holding an event, he had his microphone cranked up full volume to be heard over the music. The Ugly: The Diamond Princess Customer Services Manager needs to be fired immediately. When I began getting sick in my cabin, I went to the front desk to ask about moving to another cabin. I explained that there was something coming in through the air system that was making me sick. [We later discovered this was caused by a passenger smoking in the laundry room a few doors down]. I even offered to pay for an upgrade if that was necessary. I have to use a CPAP respiratory machine at night which concentrates the air into my lungs; this means that any pollutants in the air system can cause medical issues. For five days I got the runaround. I demanded to meet with the Customer Services Manager, but she could not be bothered. I was allowed to speak to a “supervisor” who told me there were no cabins available. But then one minute after he left, another front desk person offered another passenger the chance to select an upgrade from a number of cabins. So he had outright lied to me! My wonderful cabin attendant tried to get his supervisor to help as well. Eventually I was moved to another cabin but not before I ended up sick enough to have to go to the ship’s Medical Center, where the doctor confirmed that I had severe allergy symptoms and needed two prescription medications. That cost me $180, all because the Customer Services Manager refused to do her job. While I was waiting at the front desk one day, I met another passenger who was in a motorized scooter. She had been having trouble with her handicapped cabin and had made several trips to the front desk without getting any assistance. She had tried to get a meeting with the Customer Services Manager as well, but was unable to get an appointment. I met up with this passenger a few days later and she told me that she and her husband had had to write the Captain two letters before anything was done to address the problems. In summation: The upshot of this “ugly” is that I returned home and cancelled my fall Princess cruise even though it will cost me several hundred dollars in airline cancellation/change fees. I have no desire patronize a cruise line that shows no concerns for passenger health, that believes lying to passengers is an acceptable practice, and that apparently practices discrimination.

Diamond Princess Grand Japan and Taiwan—the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Diamond Princess Cruise Review by comcox

14 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2015
  • Destination: Asia
The Good:

The itinerary for this cruise was very interesting and took us to some locations not on the usual tour routes for Japan and Taiwan. Even though I had to pay a 100% supplement as a solo cruiser, the price was still fairly good. And since the beginning and ending ports were the same (Kobe), it was easier to get a well-priced round trip ticket to Kansai.

The cabins on this ship are not large but I found the storage was quite good. The television had an on-demand system which is wonderful as you no longer had to guess when a movie or ship’s video would be shown. There were also some “live” channels as well. It was nice to have MSNBC and BBC News to counter the idiotic Fox News channel. My cabin attendant, Lancy, was absolutely wonderful.

The Shore Excursion department on board was very well managed. Each tour was called individually for passengers to get their bus number and then they were seated in the theatre in order in rows. When the tour bus was ready, each row was called in order to disembark which eliminated the usual pushing and shoving out the door.

The Horizon Court, where I ate all but one meal, was one of the best managed ships’ buffets I’ve ever encountered. The serving staff was very friendly and quite quick to clear the tables. And they did an amazing job of satisfying the various ethnic food needs of the diverse passenger backgrounds. Each meal had a fairly balance mix of Japanese, American and other Asian items. The individual items did vary in quality from O.K. to quite good. There was always a salad bar with mixed greens, not just iceberg lettuce. And the Japanese noodle counter was always popular. The desserts varied but were often a bit too fussy for my tastes; however, I loved the simple cupcakes they offered at lunch time. Besides I often went for the chocolate malts at Swirls to satisfy my sweet tooth.

The library was fairly well stocked with fiction in both English and Japanese. There was little in the way of non-fiction however.

The only on board activity that I found of an intellectual substance was the photo workshop offered by the ship’s photographer. He was very good and I learned a lot.

The two main swimming pools were open 24 hours a day—at least technically they were—which was great for an early morning swimmer like me. However, maintenance crew sometimes closed them for cleaning and you could not always predict when that would happen.

The Bad:

The Kobe cruise terminal experience was a bit disorganized. On embarkation day the usual health forms were not out in the waiting area, but inside the check-in room on a small table. This meant as check-in began everyone had to make a dash to the table and then try to fill out the form while standing in line; and since many new cruisers did not know about the forms, they lined up without them. Those of us with elite/express check-in did not have time to fill the forms out before we got to the check-in counter. Also on change-over day, those passengers who were in transit were given a special card to pass through the terminal. However, we were sent through the customs line even though we had no baggage and had not been given customs forms. Here again it was a mad scramble to fill out a form standing up while holding up disembarking passengers behind us. When we returned to the terminal, no one seemed to know where we were supposed to go to return to the ship. We were sent down and up an elevator and escalator twice before it got worked out. Since Kobe is the “home port” the Diamond, you would think they would have all these glitches worked out by now.

Two of the three shore excursions in Taiwan were quite awful. In Hualien, I took the Taroko Gorge and Shopping Tour. The description mentioned a cultural performance, visiting a marble factory, and then time for shopping. The cultural performance was horribly tacky. We were then loaded back on the bus and driven all of about 75 yards to a shed where there was a 5-minute photo stop to see marble being cut. Then back on the bus and driven about another 100 yards to a giant over-priced marble/jade store where the sales force was quite aggressive. Those of us on tour had expected to be taken to an interesting local market area—not this factory store. In Keelung/Taipei there was a bit of a repeat experience. The Highlights of Taipei tour was suppose to consist of a visit to the National Palace Museum (which was fabulous), the Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine (well timed for us to see the changing of the guard), and finally we were suppose to have 45 minutes at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Instead we got 15 minutes at this last place, but an additional 40 minutes stop at another bloody marble/jade store for shopping and a photo stop at Taipei 101. Neither of these two stops was on our printed itinerary.

The Fitness Center was far too small for a ship with 2500+ passengers and it did not open until 7 am. I have never been on a ship where the gym opened that late; usually it’s 5 or 6 am. This late opening meant that on port days you really did not have time to use the gym, shower, eat breakfast and still get off on tour on time.

The Horizon Court could really do with more two-person tables. At peak times, such as when tours returned at lunch time, you often saw folks wandering around looking for a place to sit. Because of the differing languages on this cruise, passengers seemed to be uncomfortable asking to sit at a large table that had empty seats.

The beds in the cabins are very firm. If you want or need a softer bed you need to request a pillow-top or “egg carton” foam added. The inside cabins do not have an armchair even though one is shown on the floor plan on the website.

I was very frustrated with the almost total lack of an intellectual content in the on board activities. There were only brief port lectures, but most of those were in Japanese only with a few English notes on the slides.

The Future Cruise person seemed to be assigned solely for the benefit of the Japanese passengers. She had no brochures in English. I had read on the Cruise Critic forum that booking would open up for Princess’ exotic 2016 cruises on May 24th, I went to her to ask about them. She had no idea what I was talking about. Indeed she had never even heard of Cruise Critic!

I could not stand the noise level in the Atrium which was frustrating as you could not avoid this area if you wanted to use the internet café, the library, the coffee bar, or needed to go to any of the service desks. There was loud music even going at 4 or 5 in the morning—why? And then when the cruise director was holding an event, he had his microphone cranked up full volume to be heard over the music.

The Ugly:

The Diamond Princess Customer Services Manager needs to be fired immediately.

When I began getting sick in my cabin, I went to the front desk to ask about moving to another cabin. I explained that there was something coming in through the air system that was making me sick. [We later discovered this was caused by a passenger smoking in the laundry room a few doors down]. I even offered to pay for an upgrade if that was necessary. I have to use a CPAP respiratory machine at night which concentrates the air into my lungs; this means that any pollutants in the air system can cause medical issues. For five days I got the runaround. I demanded to meet with the Customer Services Manager, but she could not be bothered. I was allowed to speak to a “supervisor” who told me there were no cabins available. But then one minute after he left, another front desk person offered another passenger the chance to select an upgrade from a number of cabins. So he had outright lied to me! My wonderful cabin attendant tried to get his supervisor to help as well. Eventually I was moved to another cabin but not before I ended up sick enough to have to go to the ship’s Medical Center, where the doctor confirmed that I had severe allergy symptoms and needed two prescription medications. That cost me $180, all because the Customer Services Manager refused to do her job.

While I was waiting at the front desk one day, I met another passenger who was in a motorized scooter. She had been having trouble with her handicapped cabin and had made several trips to the front desk without getting any assistance. She had tried to get a meeting with the Customer Services Manager as well, but was unable to get an appointment. I met up with this passenger a few days later and she told me that she and her husband had had to write the Captain two letters before anything was done to address the problems.

In summation:

The upshot of this “ugly” is that I returned home and cancelled my fall Princess cruise even though it will cost me several hundred dollars in airline cancellation/change fees. I have no desire patronize a cruise line that shows no concerns for passenger health, that believes lying to passengers is an acceptable practice, and that apparently practices discrimination.
comcox’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
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Cabin Review

Cabin B716
Small cabin but storage is quite good. It would have been rather snug though if I had been sharing with another passenger. The cabin attendant had added a pillow-top to the bed so it was wonderfully comfortable. Although the website floor plan shows an armchair in the interior cabins, this is not correct. The only chair is the desk chair. The location of this cabin is very quiet which is nice. It's just a short walk to the aft elevators and the laundry room. However, it does seem a bit of a hike to anything located in the forward part of the ship.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Kobe
    This is a great shopping town. There is a monorail, the Port Liner, that runs from the cruise terminal to the JR train station from where you can get a train or bus to many nearby areas. You can also pick-up the City Loop tourist bus there. The City Museum was especially good if you are interested in history.
    View All 33 Kobe Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Kobe Cruise Port Review
  • Other stops on Highlights tour
    However the guide added a 40 minute horrible shopping stop at one of those marble/jade stores and this cut into our time for the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
    View All 12,636 Other stops on Highlights tour Reviews
  • Martyr's Shrine
    We were able to watch the changing of the guard at the Martyrs' Shrine. It was very hot, though, as you are standing in the full sun and not allowed to wear a hat near the shrine.
    View All 2 Martyr's Shrine Reviews
  • National Palace Museum
    National Palace Museum is amazing but very crowded. Since I was on a Japanese only guided tour, I was able to go off on my own and saw a lot more than other folk.
    View All 9 National Palace Museum Reviews