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As the title suggests, the cruise was pretty good overall, but not perfect by any means and not as good as it could have been with better management. This was our 6th cruise and having sailed with P & O and Celebrity, we had obviously experienced both ends of the spectrum of quality, with P & O clearly the worst of the cruise lines on just about every front and Celebrity so far ahead a telescope would be required to see them. Before this cruise we tried to find out if we should have a drinks package, but despite a considerable effort, we could not find a definitive price list for on board drinks, so I wrote to both Princess and my own agent with a handful of questions. Oddly enough I received mixed replies and none of them accurate. For example, Princess sent me a list of prices which were so under priced as to suggest they were either from a different cruise line or decade and my agent categorically stated we would require a US electrical converter! So just to set the record straight let me list a few prices and facts here for anyone else trying to organise themselves before departure. A Crown lager is $7.95, cocktails start at around $10 and a half decent wine was $10 a glass. A bottle of red would set you back around $35, but remember all these prices are subject to a 15% gratuity. And talking of gratuity, Princess state that passengers will be automatically charged a per night gratuity of around $12 per person, unless they opt out, but in fact if you book in Australia for a cruise from Australia, they DONT charge gratuities at all and you need to make your own arrangements or opt IN to do it. There was a universal plug socket in the cabin (a mini suite of very generous proportions indeed} and the choice of in room movies was beyond impressive - we are talking dozens of them and several VERY new releases. The TV channels however were to put it mildly very poor. Having said that, we have found they usually are on Cruise ships. Now for some personal highs and the odd lows of the cruise. Embarkation at the Sydney International Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay has been improved over the past couple of years and is virtually seamless, swift and painless. We were given a boarding time and arrived about 30 minutes early. Our cases were dropped off before entering the terminal and we were on board in our cabin less than 30 minutes later and our bags were delivered soon after. Another high is the food, which in our opinion is better than Celebrity in as much as Celebrity seem to serve their food with an American twist, meaning everything is OVER sauced, over flavoured and very salty, whereas Princess 's food was delicate and subtle with LOTS of seafood across the 13 days. We chose anytime dining and had the choice of four silver service restaurants to eat at at any time in the evening we wished along with the trough - err sorry I mean the buffet upstairs, a grill with burgers and hot dogs and a pizza bar. ALL of these are included in the fare and require no surcharge. For breakfast and lunch the choice of dining venues was more limited but still more than ample with breakfast in the main Princess dining room offering table service and the trough - sorry again - the buffet offering self service and these being joined by the grill and pizza bar for lunch. The main dining room also offered a totally unnecessary but still pleasant afternoon tea as well. There are a large number of bars on the ship as you would expect, but this leads me to my first negative of the cruise. I am a rather large individual, standing over 6 foot and not exactly slim in stature, yet gaining the eye of the waiters in most bars was virtually impossible on most occasions, though I would stress there WERE the odd exceptions. I am not used to being invisible and can only surmise that the staff have somehow perfected the art of not seeing people waving frantically, with arms over their heads directly in front of them - having given up on waiting for the staff to come over of their own free will. Could only describe this aspect of the cruise as abysmal, made worse by the fact we had purchased a drinks package for over $700 and therefore it was the drinks we had already paid for they werent serving us!!! Having said that, Skywalkers Bar and the Churchill Bar were exceptions to this with excellent service and a delightful young girl called Ruri ran herself off her feet serving everyone in various bars at different times, while some of her colleagues chatted to their mates behind the bar!!!!! Other pluses included the on board musical group Evolution who were very VERY good and very , VERY approachable and pleasant, with a stunning repertoire of songs crossing all genres and datelines. The best on board entertainment ever! I wont dwell on the odd negatives, though a couple were pretty bad. One involved the staff tying up 3 out of 4 aft lifts for the benefit of around 200 passengers to the detriment of the remaining 2000, turning what was normally a good and reliable method of transport between decks into a completely useless system and forced many less mobile passengers to become prisoners of their cabin or to be exiled from their cabin if they were elsewhere when the exercise started. Another was the refusal of the International Dining room Maitre D to allow passengers to be seated as on 2 seater tables on the final morning - forcing them to sit on large tables with other passengers. This is fine for most, but not for all and the minority should have been accommodated. My final is about the disembarkation process which went horribly wrong for about an hour and a quarter through no fault of the shipping line or its staff, but which should have been handled better on board with a bit of intelligence by the officers. Basically the Immigration departments computers went on the blink and the disembarkation process all but stopped. NO announcements were made for the best part of 3/4 of an hour and when it was explained, there was no guide as to how likely it was to be fixed in the short term. As I said NOT the crews fault in ANY way that the problem occurred, BUT keeping the passengers informed as quickly as possible and keeping them, updated VERY regularly would have avoided stress for those with a timetable to keep to. Personally I would have given free internet wifi for all passengers during the delay. This would have allowed those WITH a time problem to deal with the problem using the internet on their phones and kept the other passengers occupied as they either read the news, played games or communicated with family and friends. Simple, but NOT offered. All we got was silence! Moving back to the more pleasant aspects of the trip, the tendering service from the Diamond Princess is brilliant. With 6 tender vessels operating, the longest we waited was 20 minutes to get a ride ashore. That is remarkable. The ships singers and dancers were very entertaining and the special effects, props and costumes were all excellent for all their shows. Having said that the theater didnt seem to be large enough for the number of passengers with all seats filled with 1/4 of an hour to go till the first show started. The second performance usually had a little more space. The shows were generally around 30 minutes long, which was about half the length of those on the other cruises we have done, but they were very fast paced and well choreographed. Personally, we didnt like ANY of the invited guest performers, but I guess that was just us. I havent mentioned the shops and wont, other than to say there were less shops, less variety and very little value in any of them, which surprised us a LOT. Cant really explain why they would be so much worse than on all our previous cruises, but there you go, Princess Cruises saved us a bit of money we WOULD have spent on board, so thanks! So in summing up, the ship is in great condition, rides the waves very well due to her size and offers plenty of variety for dining, drinking, entertainment and pretty much all the sorts of activities you would want on board. I would recommend it to anyone who doesnt mind large numbers of people around them and a fair number of kids. Again speaking personally, I would rate the Celebrity above the Diamond Princess but there again you pay for that difference - our Mini Suite was about $2200 each with a few on board credits included, where as our ordinary Balcony suite with Concierge class service was $2500 each, and that went to the much cheaper destination of the Pacific Islands and Fiji compared to New Zealand and at a lower season time of year. Diamond Princess is however miles ahead of P & O which has slumped from its once average to poor level of service, to its current dreadful state with ancient ships, and a policy of trying to suck money out of every passenger on ANY excuse once they get on board. We really enjoyed the cruise which seemed to pass in the blink of an eye. Met some nice people and would not rule out travelling with Princess in the future if Celebrity arent going where we want to go!

Pretty Good Overall

Diamond Princess Cruise Review by davidh9000

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
As the title suggests, the cruise was pretty good overall, but not perfect by any means and not as good as it could have been with better management.

This was our 6th cruise and having sailed with P & O and Celebrity, we had obviously experienced both ends of the spectrum of quality, with P & O clearly the worst of the cruise lines on just about every front and Celebrity so far ahead a telescope would be required to see them.

Before this cruise we tried to find out if we should have a drinks package, but despite a considerable effort, we could not find a definitive price list for on board drinks, so I wrote to both Princess and my own agent with a handful of questions. Oddly enough I received mixed replies and none of them accurate. For example, Princess sent me a list of prices which were so under priced as to suggest they were either from a different cruise line or decade and my agent categorically stated we would require a US electrical converter! So just to set the record straight let me list a few prices and facts here for anyone else trying to organise themselves before departure.

A Crown lager is $7.95, cocktails start at around $10 and a half decent wine was $10 a glass. A bottle of red would set you back around $35, but remember all these prices are subject to a 15% gratuity. And talking of gratuity, Princess state that passengers will be automatically charged a per night gratuity of around $12 per person, unless they opt out, but in fact if you book in Australia for a cruise from Australia, they DONT charge gratuities at all and you need to make your own arrangements or opt IN to do it.

There was a universal plug socket in the cabin (a mini suite of very generous proportions indeed} and the choice of in room movies was beyond impressive - we are talking dozens of them and several VERY new releases. The TV channels however were to put it mildly very poor. Having said that, we have found they usually are on Cruise ships.

Now for some personal highs and the odd lows of the cruise.

Embarkation at the Sydney International Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay has been improved over the past couple of years and is virtually seamless, swift and painless. We were given a boarding time and arrived about 30 minutes early. Our cases were dropped off before entering the terminal and we were on board in our cabin less than 30 minutes later and our bags were delivered soon after.

Another high is the food, which in our opinion is better than Celebrity in as much as Celebrity seem to serve their food with an American twist, meaning everything is OVER sauced, over flavoured and very salty, whereas Princess 's food was delicate and subtle with LOTS of seafood across the 13 days. We chose anytime dining and had the choice of four silver service restaurants to eat at at any time in the evening we wished along with the trough - err sorry I mean the buffet upstairs, a grill with burgers and hot dogs and a pizza bar. ALL of these are included in the fare and require no surcharge. For breakfast and lunch the choice of dining venues was more limited but still more than ample with breakfast in the main Princess dining room offering table service and the trough - sorry again - the buffet offering self service and these being joined by the grill and pizza bar for lunch. The main dining room also offered a totally unnecessary but still pleasant afternoon tea as well.

There are a large number of bars on the ship as you would expect, but this leads me to my first negative of the cruise. I am a rather large individual, standing over 6 foot and not exactly slim in stature, yet gaining the eye of the waiters in most bars was virtually impossible on most occasions, though I would stress there WERE the odd exceptions. I am not used to being invisible and can only surmise that the staff have somehow perfected the art of not seeing people waving frantically, with arms over their heads directly in front of them - having given up on waiting for the staff to come over of their own free will. Could only describe this aspect of the cruise as abysmal, made worse by the fact we had purchased a drinks package for over $700 and therefore it was the drinks we had already paid for they werent serving us!!! Having said that, Skywalkers Bar and the Churchill Bar were exceptions to this with excellent service and a delightful young girl called Ruri ran herself off her feet serving everyone in various bars at different times, while some of her colleagues chatted to their mates behind the bar!!!!!

Other pluses included the on board musical group Evolution who were very VERY good and very , VERY approachable and pleasant, with a stunning repertoire of songs crossing all genres and datelines. The best on board entertainment ever!

I wont dwell on the odd negatives, though a couple were pretty bad. One involved the staff tying up 3 out of 4 aft lifts for the benefit of around 200 passengers to the detriment of the remaining 2000, turning what was normally a good and reliable method of transport between decks into a completely useless system and forced many less mobile passengers to become prisoners of their cabin or to be exiled from their cabin if they were elsewhere when the exercise started.

Another was the refusal of the International Dining room Maitre D to allow passengers to be seated as on 2 seater tables on the final morning - forcing them to sit on large tables with other passengers. This is fine for most, but not for all and the minority should have been accommodated.

My final is about the disembarkation process which went horribly wrong for about an hour and a quarter through no fault of the shipping line or its staff, but which should have been handled better on board with a bit of intelligence by the officers. Basically the Immigration departments computers went on the blink and the disembarkation process all but stopped. NO announcements were made for the best part of 3/4 of an hour and when it was explained, there was no guide as to how likely it was to be fixed in the short term. As I said NOT the crews fault in ANY way that the problem occurred, BUT keeping the passengers informed as quickly as possible and keeping them, updated VERY regularly would have avoided stress for those with a timetable to keep to. Personally I would have given free internet wifi for all passengers during the delay. This would have allowed those WITH a time problem to deal with the problem using the internet on their phones and kept the other passengers occupied as they either read the news, played games or communicated with family and friends. Simple, but NOT offered. All we got was silence!

Moving back to the more pleasant aspects of the trip, the tendering service from the Diamond Princess is brilliant. With 6 tender vessels operating, the longest we waited was 20 minutes to get a ride ashore. That is remarkable.

The ships singers and dancers were very entertaining and the special effects, props and costumes were all excellent for all their shows. Having said that the theater didnt seem to be large enough for the number of passengers with all seats filled with 1/4 of an hour to go till the first show started. The second performance usually had a little more space. The shows were generally around 30 minutes long, which was about half the length of those on the other cruises we have done, but they were very fast paced and well choreographed. Personally, we didnt like ANY of the invited guest performers, but I guess that was just us.

I havent mentioned the shops and wont, other than to say there were less shops, less variety and very little value in any of them, which surprised us a LOT. Cant really explain why they would be so much worse than on all our previous cruises, but there you go, Princess Cruises saved us a bit of money we WOULD have spent on board, so thanks!

So in summing up, the ship is in great condition, rides the waves very well due to her size and offers plenty of variety for dining, drinking, entertainment and pretty much all the sorts of activities you would want on board. I would recommend it to anyone who doesnt mind large numbers of people around them and a fair number of kids. Again speaking personally, I would rate the Celebrity above the Diamond Princess but there again you pay for that difference - our Mini Suite was about $2200 each with a few on board credits included, where as our ordinary Balcony suite with Concierge class service was $2500 each, and that went to the much cheaper destination of the Pacific Islands and Fiji compared to New Zealand and at a lower season time of year. Diamond Princess is however miles ahead of P & O which has slumped from its once average to poor level of service, to its current dreadful state with ancient ships, and a policy of trying to suck money out of every passenger on ANY excuse once they get on board.

We really enjoyed the cruise which seemed to pass in the blink of an eye. Met some nice people and would not rule out travelling with Princess in the future if Celebrity arent going where we want to go!
davidh9000’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Mini-Suite with Balcony
Cabin ME E723
Really very very good. A large (almost double the normal) sized cabin with a shower over the bath and a Japanese designed toilet that comes with an hilarious set of instructions offering heated seat, a range of bottom washing options - some of which brought tears to our eyes just thinking about them in operation and all packaged in a system that actually flushed and didnt get blocked up once in the two weeks we were travelling.

A word to the wise for those looking at Balconies on the Diamond Princess... Deck 9 and 10 do NOT give secluded privacy on the balcony as you are overlooked from above, so if you fancy a bit of nude activity, I suggest you look up first. Our cabin was on deck 8 and was covered! Also we were warned that deck 8 forward cabins would be above the Theater and had been known to be noisy during shows, so dont say you havent been warned :-)
Dolphin Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins