TOO MANY PEOPLE. Beautiful is the word that most readily comes to mind when looking at this ship. It really is beautiful. The décor is stylish, even luxurious, and as yet not in the least worn. But with 3 300 or so passengers, it is also too big for our liking. Not that there were lengthy queues: it’s just that we got fed up with LIVING IN A CROWD. Diamond Princess does have what they call The Sanctuary, which is what the name suggests, and is like The Dome on Pacific Dawn (but much smaller) and you have to pay to use it. No doubt, this is to limit the demand but, to my mind, this is an admission of failure – too big a ship = many people craving sanctuary! Of course, there is another viewpoint which might possibly influence a global American company: big ship = economies of scale = tasty profits.
Too many people also mean a greater chance of illness unless special precautions are taken. So we were surprised mightily to find that Princess has actually reduced the number of hand-cleanser stations around the ship. They are outside the restaurants and other food serveries, but not in lift bays or at the top of stairs. They do have a hand-washing station at entrances to the buffet (using soap and water, a good idea), and a staff member stands there to encourage people to use the facility, but many people by-pass them. Also, unlike on HAL ships, the Captain never mentions the importance of hand-washing at every opportunity (such as his midday announcements which, surprisingly, are largely given over to tourist information about the next port). These things should not be de-emphasised, as my cabin-mate, who was confined to his cabin for three days with a horrible virus, could tell you. (This was despite our using portable bottles of hand cleaner and antiseptic wipes in the cabin). It seems strange that the line which owns the notorious Sun Princess should be the one giving least emphasis to these matters. I also contracted a virus, this time a flu virus and, a week after disembarkation, am only just beginning to recover. So much for ‘Come back new”.
And while the ship may be physically beautiful, many of its passengers were not. Not surprising, of course, that disgusting greed (often combined with obesity) should be on display on a cruise ship. All the same, people are often what you make them, and we met a lot of friendly, interesting people on this ship.