We booked a 17 day cruise, which was actually two back-to-back cruises from Yokohama. Prior to joining the cruise, we spent 3 days in Tokyo. With hindsight, we might have been better with one cruise then time in Kyoto, as the menus and entertainment were basically repeated after 8 days.
Diamond Princess has been given a Japanese style make-over but is still a really nice ship. The original Crown Grill is now a Japanese speciality restaurant and about half of the passengers were from Japan. Unlike its sister ship, Sapphire Princess, there is no International Café and we missed the Any-time Dining offered by the rest of the fleet. Japanese food was always available, to cater for everybody’s taste.
With Australians being the next largest group, we sometimes wondered which country we were circling. UK and USA passengers were minority groups.
Yokohama is an attractive and accessible port with easy access to the train station and buses. It was also our embarkation port and we found it to be very efficient.
We caught the number 8 bus, which goes to the Sankekin garden. It is a 15 minute ride and costs 220 Yen. Entry to the garden was 700 Yen, which seemed very reasonable. Within the garden you can participate in a tea ceremony, which was a new experience for us (cost 500 Yen).
The gardens are laid out with an inner and outer garden. They cover quite a large area and are landscaped with many ponds and bridges. The buildings mainly date back to 1919.
China Town is a 15 minute walk from the ship and well worth a visit. An interesting place to visit around lunch time when they are busy making dim sum. We tried their cha sui pork but it was very disappointing, having too much veg and not enough pork.
We did not have time to go on the big wheel as it was quite a long walk from where we were docked. However, the gardens along the port are well kept and we passed the tall tower.
Nagasaki city is easy walking distance from the port and a one day tram pass costs just 500 Yen. There is plenty to see and do in the city and the sites are easy to reach by tram. The shipyard where the Diamond and Sapphire Princess were built is nearby but not open to visitors.
Having visited the Peace Park and Nagasaki museum on a previous trip, we decided to go to Glover Gardens then on to the Inasa Ropeway (cable car).
Glover Garden is just 10 minutes walk from the port. It is a pleasant collection of relocated European style homes built for foreign traders and diplomats when Japan was first opened to the world. It is built on the hill side but there are escalators to make it easier to reach. Entry was 610 Yen.
The old Catholic Church, constructed in 1864 during the Edo Period, is close to Glover Gardens. The church was designed to appeal to the growing community of foreign merchants and is the only Western building designated as a national treasure.
The Inasa Ropeway was a short tram ride away and gave us panoramic views of the island of Kyushu. The return trip costs 1230 Yen and cars runs every 20 minutes. The “Spectacle” bridge is of interest, as is Shinchi China Town, if time permits.
On leaving Nagasaki, we passed Hashima, which is also known by its nickname “Gunkanjima” (Battleship Island) due to its unique silhouette. Gunkanjima flourished as a coal mining community from 1890. In 1974 when the coal mine closed, the island became completely deserted.