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Diamond Princess Review

4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating
900 reviews
1 Award

See the Orient - but not too closely

Review for Diamond Princess to Asia
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David Jackson
2-5 Cruises • Age 60s

Rating by category

Value for Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
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Service
Cabin

Additional details

Sail Date: Mar 2011
Cabin: Balcony

First the good (and there was a lot of good): The hospitality staff treated us very well (apart from a couple of situations to be described below). The quality of the cabins was normal standard, with a good layout, very comfortable bed, as much room as we expected in the circumstances, and everything worked (though the a/c struggled to keep the temperature low enough, and there was an annoying handle in the middle of the shower back that took 422 off the depth). We heard no noise from adjacent cabins, and the cabin steward was remarkable, achieving the correct balance that made us feel very welcome, without being in any way pushy. The food was excellent, with sensible quantities in the dining rooms, and as much as you wanted in the buffet - my word, can't Americans eat! We chose "Anytime Dining" which meant we turned up at a dining room pretty much when we felt like it and asked either for a table for two, or to join a group. Joining a table for four or six is a great way to meet interesting people, and this was almost always our choice. However the tables for two were so close together, they may as well have been joined. Companions of ours chose set dining, and after an excursion made them 15 minutes late for their table, they were refused entry, and had to go to the buffet! The procedures for joining the ship, immigration for excursions, and leaving the ship at the end all worked well, though the timings for the last gradually slipped because the ship was docked in a container port around 14 miles away from the luggage hall, through quite heavy traffic.There was a typical mixture of entertainment - dance and song shows, acts such as a juggler, a ventriloquist, string quartet, pianist, local entertainers from port cities, quizzes, craft activities, a good selection of films, a reasonably stocked library, blah blah blah. There was absolutely no excuse to be bored! One innovation was "Movies under the Stars", where a huge screen on an upper open deck screened films, pop videos or live recordings, or just rolling scenery to accompany music tracks. This worked well apart from for the films - there were always people talking in loud voices scattered around the deck. We left "True Grit" after 20 minutes, as it was impossible to follow. Headphones should be available. Diamond Princess is a very large ship. We had an altered itinerary due to the political situation in South Korea. Our first stop out of Beijing should have been Busan, South Korea, followed by Nagasaki, with a full day in each. Instead we sailed directly to Nagasaki, arriving shortly before noon of the first cruise day and leaving early evening. This was simply not enough time, and many people were unable to complete the tours they had paid for. Subsequently all stops were a day early, with a full day and night in Singapore at the end to take up the slack. For every port visit apart from Nagasaki we tied up in container ports. I estimated the following distances to areas of tourist interest: Shanghai 15 miles, Hong Kong 7 miles, Ho Chi Minh City 40 miles, Bangkok 70 miles), Singapore 12 miles (my first view of Singapore being an oil refinery). Quite apart from the time and distance, it meant we could not stroll off the ship and into town at will, because of standard port security; instead a mandatory coach shuttle was needed. Bangkok involved 5 hours of travel, the Mekong Delta tunnels four hours, Singapore about two hours. I don't know if this was because of the size of the ship, because the itinerary had changed, or because of the cost of tying up in a cruise terminal, but it was completely unacceptable. As for the Nagasaki debacle, we should have had an extra day at sea to replace of Busan, and then had the full day in Japan. (This was before the awful earthquake, by the way.) Unlike P&O, there is a strong and relentless desire to sell to the passengers - alcoholic drinks, coffees, expensive waters, discount cards. Even after a (very brief and largely pointless) trip through a galley, we exited via a lounge full of sale merchandise. As each main course dish was placed in front of us, someone would dive in with a massive pepper grinder, and the cry "Would you some like pepper". This was before we had time to smell, let alone taste the food. I wanted a baseball cap with the words "Just Leave Me Alone" on the peak - but amongst all the other items, this was not available. I could, however, have bought an insulated mug for $20, and I think that well illustrates the inflated prices of most things. We were appalled to learn that the corkage price for our own wine would be $15, while Princess would charge over $20 for an $8 bottle of their own.When my wife suffered a tooth abscess, the service desk were very off-hand, though the doctor, once contacted, was very efficient (apart from initially only giving half the medication charged for and not marking the required dose on the packaging).There seemed nowhere on the ship free of background music. Even the library had an ever-open door, so the clamour and musak from the atrium couldn't be escaped there.Apart from the constant selling, the pepper grinder (and the service desk), the hotel staff treated us very well. In the face of a lot of rudeness from a few passengers, they kept their dignity and politeness in a way that I could never do. When there was a whiff of norovirus, a presumably well-rehearsed plan went into action, and there was no spread - despite some passengers objecting to the simple routine hygiene measures.There were a few significant delays caused by tardy passengers, and the captain and tour manager were far too forgiving. I was delayed leaving on one trip for 45 minutes due to late passengers, that weren't even allocated to my coach. This will not do.Sadly, for me the negatives outweighed the positives, and though overall I had a good time, I will not be sailing with Princess again unless they can convince me that attitudes have changed in significant areas. I will certainly avoid a ship this large.

Cabin Review

Balcony

Cabin BA

The cabin was comfortable. Of course space was a little restricted, but you get what you pay for. The bathroom was well appointed, with the usual aircraft-type suck toilet, wash basin, replenished toiletries, hanging line, shaving socket. The shower worked well, but some idiot of a designer had put a grab handle in the middle of the back wall. I fully understand the need for a handle, but a much better position, not where it regularly dug into my back, would have better.

Between the bathroom and bedroom was a built-in wardrobe, with plenty of shelf and hanging space (with a good number of hangers). There was also a safe. It would have been better if the wardrobe and partition had been 3" shorter, as the way through felt restrictive. The large double bed was very comfortable - we'd asked for a twin arrangement, but we didn't bother to quibble, as in fact this worked well.

There was a mini-bar (which we did not use) but unlike P&O, there was no kettle. We therefore had to stroll 200 yards to the buffet if we wanted free hot drinks.

The small desk/dressing table was of useful size, and the TV was large enough and well positioned. There was usually something interesting to watch, including a good selection of films (though actually we watched very little.

The balcony was OK for two (with two chairs and a small table) and was well protected from the weather. It was always interesting to look over dozens of cranes and thousands of containers as we made another landfall.

The cabin steward was a gem, well understanding the right level of attention - we felt very welcome, without feeling at all hassled.

All in all, despite a couple of niggles mentioned above) we were very happy with the cabin and the cabin service.

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