Diamond Princess Cruise Review by krusinkuple
- Sail Date: July 2011
- Destination: Alaska
We did the 3-day land tour followed by a sailing from Whittier to Vancouver in July 2011.
The Land Tour:
Pros: Well organized, properties very nice, the tour guides friendly and pretty knowledgeable. We did a 2-hr river guide ride (booked through the Lodge) and flightseeing/glacier landing (booked through a private company - TAT) in Talkeetna along with breakfast at the Talkeetna Roadhouse (not to be missed if you are in the area - the cinnamon rolls are AMAZING and all the portions are ENORMOUS - pancakes literally hang over 10-inch plates and the toast looks like it is on steroids).
Cons: Would have preferred food be included in the base cost even if the base cost was increased- we quickly tired of the $15 breakfasts and burgers. Regarding the Denali History tour, I was told by my TA and later Princess when I called them directly, because of our arrival time, we couldn't book the longer tour. When we arrived; however, people who were on our same bus had tickets for the longer tour. The air conditioning in our rail car on the way to the ship broke 3 hours into the trip, which made for a very long remaining 6 hours.
The Cruise on Diamond Princess:
Pros: Nice layout, clean, great itinerary, and awesome shore excursion options. We did the Yukon Pass train in Skagway (booked thru the ship), in Juneau we did whale watching via a private company (H&M) and sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier via Helicopter (booked through the ship) and in Ketchikan we took a floatplane tour with all-you-can-eat crabfeast in a private dining room at George Inlet Lodge (also booked through the ship) Most of the on-board staff seemed very nice. Enjoyed the park rangers being on the ship as we cruised through Glacier Bay.
Cons: Room steward service left a bit to be desired. The plate with the remnants of our welcome chocolate-covered strawberries stayed in our room for 1.5 days until we finally got tired of looking at it and set it outside the cabin. Our champagne only had ice in the ice bucket the first night; it was never checked or refilled again the entire cruise. These are a couple of things to me that are "no-brainers" and I didn't feel that I should have needed to "ask for ice in the bucket" with the bottle sticking out of it right in the middle of our suite.
Anytime dining was anything but. We arrived the second night at 5:45 and were told unless we had reservations, the wait would be 45-70 minutes. Reservations for "Anytime" dining defeats the purpose of ANYTIME dining. When I tried to call the next day for "reservations" I was told the earlier seats were again taken but I could have a reservation for 8:15. As a result we ate most of our meals in the Horizon buffet, which were okay but not what we were expecting to do. The couple of times we did eat in the dining rooms the food seemed to be the same options for each night and the service was slowww---several times I had to find someone simply to refill my water or take away my dishes.
When we took pictures, some of the photographers were very pleasant but others seemed to be counting the time until they were off work. We like to have a couple of pictures from our cruises that don't look mass produced yet when we asked if we could "try this" or "try that," we could see the irritation in their eyes (and we made sure there was not a line when we asked). Some finally agreed to our requests but we felt it was an extreme imposition for them to accommodate our request and that they were doing us a favor...but seriously, at $25 a pop, who is doing who a favor here?
The Sundaes ice cream station was simply horrid - hard, horrible tasting ice-milk....the ice cream offered in the dining room was much better.
We were delighted to see the ship had a number of hot tubs, but disappointed when so many of them were closed during the cruise. A couple of days were so warm people were out by the pool yet I believe it was closed a fair amount as well.
The Piano "Bar" we have experienced on other ships was much different than the one on the Diamond. This one appeared to be a regular seating area with a piano stuck back in the corner...no stools that sat around the piano, simply regular chairs arranged like you would see in any of the other seating areas around the ship, some facing the piano and others facing the opposite direction.
Once we arrived in Vancouver after the cruise was over, we stayed overnight so we could take in some of the sights but we had to arrange for our own transportation back to Seattle. Transportation was only available if we left the same day we disembarked the ship - EVEN if we purchased their optional post-cruise Vancouver tour...wow. So in the end we booked our own room in Vancouver at the very same hotel Princess wanted to book us at for $150 less. We then used the savings to purchase business-class tickets back to Seattle on the Amtrak train, cab fare to the station and breakfast on the train. That ended up being a nice relaxing trip back to the states....Why couldn't Princess have done the same thing for us?
Take these issues one by one and they may seem insignificant to some, but to us they added up and equaled a really disappointing experience (and trust me, I kept giving them the benefit of the doubt because I really REALLY wanted to be impressed with them).
All of the tours, both those booked through Princess and the ones we booked on our own, couldn't have been more spectacular. The scenery was breathtaking, service exceptional and we were not disappointed in the least.
But the rest? We couldn't help but wonder if Princess thought because their itinerary was so great and people were going to book because of it, they could afford to provide less-than-stellar service. We received better service on not only Holland America and Royal Caribbean but even extended Carnival cruises...and they seem to have a reputation of being "party" ships.
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The only complaint is that EVERYONE above us could see us when we stepped out onto the balcony. It appeared that the other balconied staterooms above us had at least a three-foot cover...we had none.