Singapore to Beijing aboard the diamond Princess: Diamond Princess Cruise Review by guarantee

Diamond Princess 5

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Singapore to Beijing aboard the diamond Princess

Sail Date: March 2011
Destination: Asia
Embarkation: Singapore
We arrived in Singapore a few days before boarding the Diamond Princess. We did a precheck-in the day before which saved some time in the lineups waiting to board the shuttle to the ship. We took a cab from our hotel on Orchard Rd, cabs are cheap. The check in went well, moving 3000 people in such a short time was a good effort. Once on board the crew were helpful in directing us to our cabin.
The cabin was comfortable with penty of storage room for us. It was interesting watching the luggage being stowed on board while we waited for our cases to be delivered to our cabin which did not take very long. Our cabin was on deck 12 "Aloha" with a balcony on the starboard side about 3/4 towards the stern. We were surprised from our observations that not a lot of guests took advantage of their balconies.
We chose anytime dining which suited us perfectly and we met many interesting people while dining. We moved between the 4 dining rooms and found them all good. We never dined in the More upmarket restaurants so I can't comment. We had some breakfasts before the shore excursions in the Horizon Buffet but preferred the dining room while at sea.
We took advantage of the back pool deck when the weather was good. This area never felt crowded as did most areas of the ship. It was interesting as the ship cruised up through the South China Sea dodging the long line fishermen, however some time the Diamond Princess went staight through.
We found the shows were all very good and the individual artists changed every couple of days. We were unable to get a seat only once in the Princess theatre. We would usually rock up about 10 minutes before show time.The lectures before each port visit were good. Our only concern was they tried to steer passengers to the tours offered by Princess, after all that is their business. Passengers were well informed each day by way of the daily newsletter. Also the TV carried daily Australian News. We always found the crew very helpful and the service provided to us was of a high standard.
Ho Samui was a tender port which took a little time to get ashore. We took a big Tuk Tuk which is a pickup truck, this seated 8 people in the covered back. The cost for a 4 hr tour of the island was $60 US.It did not take more than 2 minutes to get 6 others to join us. It was a great fun day and we remained friends with them for the rest of the voyage.
The weather was quite bad so we did not go ashore in Nha Tran, Vietnam which was a little disappointing plus we were stuck with Vietnam Dong. It was a hard slog up to Hong Kong due to fairly rough weather, our stop in HK would proberly have been cut short if we had stopped in Nha Tran.
Shanghai was great. We loved China. Free shuttle into the silk factory (about 30min). From our experience in Singapore we bought a all day ticket on the subway,It was cheap. We took the subway to the station to catch the Maglev Train to the airport. The train travels at over 400kph it cost 20y each. China is miles ahead of us when it comes to trains. We visited a cheap market and got some great bargains for the family. We went up the bottle opener they love building these high buildings where you got a great view of the city although it was a little hazy. We walked around a bit and it was time to catch the shuttle back to the ship.
Next stop was Busan, Korea. Once again it was a lovely city big on ship building and fishing. We took both "free I think" city tours and they took you everywhere. The Korean people we met during our day were really nice people We would have liked more time to visit the UN war cementry but that will have to wait until next time. Note the market people in Busan, Korea do not bargain and get angry when you try.
Dalian was our next stop. This is city on the move with construction everywhere. Free shuttle into the Friendship store. We headed off with our map to the Russian Market about a 15minute walk. We just loved the markets in China. Dalian has a Russian influence as it was "Leased" by Russia for many years.
Our last port of call Xingang.The port is only new and in the middle of nowhere. No sooner do you get on the ship then it is time to get off. We caught a cab to Tianjin 400y (30 min)for up to 4 people that is if you don't have too much luggage.We then caught a fast train into Beijing South. cost 90Y each and the trains are frequent with plenty of room for luggage and wide comfortable seats. This train only did 320kph. It took about 1hr to get to Beijing. We took a cab to the Novetel Peace Hotel 25y. It is very central close to the Forbidden City etc. We found the Peace to be very good and the buffet breakfasts were great. We stayed 3 nights and the staff were always helpful and the internet was free and the phone was cheap. The Silk Markets were great for knockoffs etc. The subway costs 2y for a journey between any 2 stations and the stations are listed in English so it is easy to find your way around. However if you feel you want to try some local resturants you will need to have what you want written down in Chinese. We loved walking through the Hutons and calling into their little shops. If you or your partner are not into shopping don't go to the markets as they are very pushy. When you reach the lowest price they will sell an item for you must buy it or they can be a little nasty. China is changing so rapidly the major cities will just be like any big city before too long.
We were extremely happy with the quality of food and service provided by Princess and book another cruise this year. Less

Published 01/19/12
3 Helpful Votes

Cabin review: BBa611 Balcony

Cabin was more than sufficient for our needs. Plenty of storage space. The bath room was small but adequate. Once we closed our door we heard nothing. The fridge and TV were all that was needed. We made good use of our balcony particularly when entering or leaving ports. Bed was to our liking.

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Port and Shore Excursions

We took the free shuttle from the port Laem Chabang into Bangkok. Each coach had a guide who gave you a non stop commentry. We were dropped off at a jewellery factory as part of the shuttle. Good quality. My wife is very happy with her purchases. We chose to take the canal cruise. We were dropped off at the river and were amazed at the amount of river traffic. The tour took about 1 hr and was a lot of fun cuising along in a "James Bond Boat" it was also quite reasonable. The boat dropped us at a market near the King's Palace. The Palace is well worth seeing. We spent about 1hr there. Time was always short in port. We took a tuk tuk back to the hotel to board the shuttle back to the ship. The tuk tuk's are an experience but may not suit everybody and you have to bagain hard with the driver. Money is no problem in Bankok as banks are easy to find. I am not sure about weekends!

You have to have a visa to enter Vietnam. Princess look after that for you and it is cheaper that sourcing your own before departure. We took the shuttle from Phu My to Ho Chi Minh City cost around $50 each and it takes about 2 hr. It is an adventure in itself seeing all the sights along the way. We also had a guide on the coach who gave us a non stop commentry which was a little hard to understand at times. We were dropped at the Rex Hotel which was a short walk to the Bin Tan markets great place for a bargain plus a lot of knock offs. Very crowded it may not suit everybody but we loved it. My "Rolex" has not missed a beat in almost 12 months. We did a tour of the Presidential Palace which was interesting, be warned some attractions close for lunch. Saigon was great just to walk around and explore and watch to the sights go bye on motor bikes. The Rex was the haunt for journalists during the war. We bought a fair bit of Dong before we left but we did not spend it all and no other country we visited would exchange it. Our tip is to take small US bills but you may need Dong to get into government building.

We took the free shuttle (about 30 min) into a hotel adjacent to the Star Ferry. Hong Kong has changed a bit since our last visit. We liked it better last time. The day was not good and the air was not clear. we took the Star Ferry over to the island and did Stanly Markets which are always good. Our advice is if you see something you like, buy it as you may not see the same item again. The trip out of Hong Kong was great as the Diamond Princess was given permission to go north out of the harbour which was lovely at night.

First time to Singapore. Loved Singapore. Stayed at the York Hotel just off Orchard Rd. good location. The York is older but very comfortable, friendly staff and great buffet breakfasts. We bought a 3 day tourist subway pass and went everywhere, good value. We checked out all the WW2 history. Singapore is really on the move, no GFC in Singapore. We want to return to Singapore in the future.

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