The Emirates flights from Glasgow to Dubai then on to Tokyo were very long and tiring. However, collection of our luggage, immigration and the transfer from Narita airport to the hotel went smoothly.
Iglu arranged for us to stay for three nights in the Garden Tower section of the very large and luxurious New Otani Hotel. Our thirty sixth floor room was beautifully appointed and had panoramic views over the City and the hotel's traditional Japanese Garden. The hotel is conveniently close to a Metro station and travelling on the underground has signs in English, is user friendly and immaculately clean. The hotel is also within walking distance of the Imperial Palace, the Meiji Shrine and Tokyo Tower.
Meals in the hotel were very expensive so we ate out but there were many restaurants near at hand. However we found Tokyo in general to be very expensive not just food and drink but also clothes, gifts etc. Overall our experience in this hotel was memorable and we would recommend it.
During our three day stay in Tokyo we took the Iglu arranged well advertised tour of Mount Fuji, Hakone, Lake Ashinoko and the Komagatake Ropeway then a return trip to Tokyo on the bullet train. Overall this was very disappointing as each aspect of the tour was rushed with little time to explore the areas and the bullet train on this part of it's journey travelled only slightly faster than our local commuter train.
The transfer to Yokohama took about an hour and embarkation on to Diamond Princess was well organised.
We found Diamond Princess to be a comfortable ship, with easy on the eye colours and furnishings
The Atrium is particularly attractive with plenty of seating areas, a coffee shop, well stocked library and plenty of computers although access can be expensive. However many of the ships entertainment and sales activities take place in the atrium and this results in a bit of congestion.
There are no hard sells but perhaps too many art auctions. Announcements are made in both Japanese and English. The majority of guests were Japanese with Brits, Aussies and some Americans making up the remainder.
During the days at sea trivia quizzes , dance classes, cultural classes such as learning Japanese or making Hawaiian crafts and the usual bingo take place in the bars. To our disappointment there were no Ports of Call or enrichment Lectures .In the evening various musicians and singers entertained in the bars. Drink prices are similar to other cruise lines but the buy one get one for a dollar happy hour proved to be very popular.
In terms of entertainment the Production shows were generally good , the Magician and Juggler and the Soprano were OK but unfortunately as this was termed two cruises some of the shows were repeated the second week. Movies under the stars was also proved popular but once again the movies were repeated. The Cruise Director was rarely seen with his Assistant doing most of the work
On this cruise Anytime Dining is not offered with the traditional early or late seating for dinner. Food served in the dining room and in Horizon Court was both Western and Japanese with plenty of choice and nicely presented There were three formal nights and although most people made the effort to dress up there were not many tuxedos in evidence.
Staff in the Bars, Restaurants, Guest Services and Shops were all friendly and did all they could to make guests feel comfortable.
The Itinerary was what made us select this package and generally we enjoyed each port of call.
We tend not to do ship excursions preferring to explore on our own . For example in Otaru we took the train to Sapporo which is well worth a visit. The station in Otaru is within walking distance of the Port and there was plenty of time to explore Otaru when we returned from Sapporo.
We did the same in Hakodate getting the train to the wonderful Onuma National Park.
Yokohama is easy to self explore as is Busan South Korea where the shuttle bus drops you off at the Gujke market. The United Nations Memorial Cemetery is a must see in Busan.
However, in Russia it is necessary to get a Visa to go ashore in Korsakov so we opted for a ships tour which included a visit to the nearby town of Yuzhno Sakhalink. Although the places visited on this tour were interesting there was totally inadequate time given at each stop, in fact hardly time to even take photographs at e.g. the beautiful Church of St Nicholas and the stunning Cathedral Temple in Victory Square yet we were taken to a shopping mall. The time could have been better spent at the historical sights.
Unfortunately due to our delay leaving Busan caused by Typhoon Talim the ship had to miss Kagoshima, which we received financial compensation for, so we cannot comment on this port.
We were well informed about the Typhoon situation and provided with plenty of help and resources to enable us to rearrange our return flights. This Vicky at Iglu did in an expedient and efficient manner thereby alleviating any concerns about getting home. We took Emirates offer of discounted Business Class fares for the flight from Tokyo to Dubai which was well worth the additional cost.
We thoroughly enjoyed this trip and despite the lengthy flights recommend it as an opportunity to experience the interesting and culturally different country that is uniquely Japan.
Our cabin was a sunset balcony A746 on Aloa Deck 12 which, although not large was roomy enough with plenty of storage space, a large screen TV which although limited in terms of English speaking programmes did provide a range of News and Sport Channels and an excellent choice of movies . The balcony was very good as it was sheltered so on windy or wet days it was still possible to sit out in comfort. The only criticism was the bathroom shower which was small with a clingy curtain. Our Cabin Steward Enrique was excellent and looked after us very well. We were lucky enough to have very good weather during the cruise with sunny and pleasantly warm days with the bonus of spectacular sunsets on a number of evenings.
Everything rushed no time to see anything properly. Long bus journeyView All 9 Mount Fuji Reviews