We just got back from a 9 day cruise around Japan on the Diamond Princess. We booked the cruise because of the itinerary. We had been to Japan several times but had not gone up to the north. This was a great chance to see an area we had never been to.
- The itinerary..some great countryside places, gorgeous cherry blossoms, interesting historical sites
- The room. We had the San Remo Suite. A nice sized room with a large balcony which had two lounges and a nice sized table and four chairs.
- The staff.. Everyone was helpful and upbeat with a great attitude. Our room steward Sydney was excellent. Even though some staff were unable to answer simple questions related to itinerary and procedure, everyone tried.
- The food.. We are admittedly foodies but we ratchet down our expectations when taking a cruise. We have been on at least 10 cruises on various lines and the food on this ship was unbelievably bad in comparison to any of them. It was as if all flavor had been removed from food. When you find yourself eating pasta Pomodoro every night because everything you eat tastes like cardboard you have to wonder. There wasn’t a fresh vegetable or berry anywhere on that ship. Everything tasted as if it had been cold stored or frozen for a while. We usually go to the specialty restaurants a number of times during a cruise. After once at Sabatini’s and the steak place we said why spend extra money for the same bad food. The only vegetables I saw for 10 days were really bad asparagus. We even went to the sushi place only to discover that all the fish was frozen. Really?? In the middle of the Sea of Japan, stopping every day at ports with gorgeous fresh fish and you serve frozen sushi???
- The stops in Busan Korea and the return to Japan the next day were an unmitigated disaster. To get through Korean customs took over two hours of standing in line. To get back into Japan the next day was even a longer wait in line. We were like cattle.. all lined up, snaking around the ship. In- stead of having a system whereby passengers are called by the cabin or deck to appear at immigration(and enforcing it) we had to wait in those lines. Then because of the delay the shore excursion time was reduced to an absurdly short period. Did anyone readjust the tours to the limited time? Of course not . The result was that we drove all over Busan to spend very little time at any given place. Or we got to the Adachi Museum and had to practically run through it.
- Suite passengers got very few perks.. expedited embarkation, period. And breakfast at Sabatini’s. We found ourselves in the same cattle line as everyone else.
- Dining rooms would be closed indiscriminately leaving 2500 people to descend on the buffet restaurant at virtually the same time. With no warning.
- There was nonstop selling of everything. We felt like we were on a floating version of Let’s Make a Deal. Art, pictures, coffee cards, insoles for your shoes, on and on. So tacky..
- This is the only cruise we have ever been on which provided virtually no cultural or historical lectures. If the Princess didn’t want to pay for on board, in person lectures , at least record some before and play them on TV. You could learn how to wear your yukata, but that was about it. Also, up until the last few nights there was absolutely no Japanese cultural performances of any kind. They finally had two dance groups at the end of the cruise. For most of the cruise it was an Hawaiian group and an Irish singer. We could have been sailing anywhere in the world for all the local color we got.
- The staff was not kept adequately informed and had no real decision making authority. It was almost as if it was the ship’s first time in Japan. Hard to believe Princess has been doing this for six years or so.
In short, when weighing good with bad we cannot recommend this cruise. We wouldn’t take a Princess cruise again if we got one for free.. Get a Japan Rail pass and go out and see Japan without all the hassle and with some amazing food…. or go on another cruise line
C421 San Remo suite was very nice. Close to elevator, but that was a plus..not noisy at all.