Length: 952 ft
One of the larger Princess ships, many onboard activities, good for families and all agesBest For People Who Want
A wonderful array of dining, activities, and entertainment choices; exemplary children and teen programs; onboard weddings broadcast ashore; balcony cabins, a mega-ship with the feeling of a smaller, cozy ship.Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Should be Avoided by People Who Prefer: A mega-ship feel with towering atriums, small ships, no kidsOnboard Experience
One of the early classes of post 100,000-ton ships, these wonderful "Grand-class" Princess ships exemplify Princess's philosophy of offering both megaship choice and a small ship feel.
These ships pride themselves on the range of choices they offer - including, insofar as dining is concerned, an option not to make a choice. In other words, you can still opt to dine in the traditional cruise ship manner of pre-assigned tables and the same waiters night after night, or you can opt for the Princess' "Personal Choice Dining" program where you arrive whenever you want and have a different table and dining companions (or none at all) every night. Alternatively, one can dine in any of the four intimate themed restaurants, which serve between 5:30 and 10 p.m.
There's a wonderful choice of activities too. Princess' ScholarShip at Sea program offers, for instance, photography, computer technology, and culinary classes (for a fee). Or you may choose to make your own serving dish in the ceramic studio located above the Neptune Pool, or to compete in an American Idol-style singing competition.
Kids and teens have their own well-equipped 9,686 sq. ft. facilities. There's Concierge Service for those who like someone else to make their dinner reservations, and to assist with more unusual requests. With 29 computer terminals, Diamond's is one of the largest and most stylish Internet centers at sea -- and, at 35 cents a minute, one of the least expensive. Cappuccino is dispensed here at a nominal cost, but delicious pastries to wash it down with are free. More free-spirited types with their own laptop computers can purchase 30-minute wireless access packages.Public Rooms
The three-deck atrium is Diamond's heart. Note the delightful Art Nouveau glass-and-brass designs on its elevators. From late afternoon into early evening a string quartet fills it with beautiful music. At other times other entertainers may emerge to amuse such as jugglers, acrobats or mime artists.
The atrium spans decks five, six and seven and serves as the focal point for most of the restaurants, shops and restaurants onboard. There are five restaurants all together just for the cruise fare included (no extra charge) dining. The trick here is to give the ship a more intimate feel by segmenting the passenger load into smaller dining rooms. Even before "Personal Choice Dining" started there were already three dining rooms, and now two of them have been further segmented to separate assigned time and table diners from the anytime diners.
Close by is the Wine Bar offering select vintages by the glass. You may come here to test your knowledge of wine and discuss your preferences with the knowledgable sommellier. You can also purchase a bottle to be stored in the wine cellar waiting for you to ask for it in any dining room you may choose on any given night.
Forward of the atrium on Deck 7 you'll find the hypernautical Wheelhouse Bar. Aft is the safari-themed Explorer's Lounge. At the stern is the cabaret lounge, Club Fusion, offering live music, disc jockeys, gambling machines, 42 high-definition TVs, and Princess Idol, a multi-round talent contest based on American Idol. In the corner, take the circular staircase to the intimate Wake View Bar.
Off the atrium on Deck 6, the Diamond's African-themed casino was once one of the largest at sea. Play blackjack, Caribbean stud, craps, roulette, or any of myriad slot and video poker machines. Unlike most megaship casinos, wide expanses of miles of open space separate the various gaming tables and slot machines; for once, the room isn't patently designed to keep you inside and gambling.
Churchill's Lounge, the one-time sports bar, is now behind the casino and is used for the cognac and cigars set. Of course it is completely enclosed and may seem off limits when it is actually open. The sports paraphernalia is still there, but seems oddly out of place. (The bars in the atrium on Decks 5 and 6 are smoke-free, as too are Club Fusion and all indoor dining areas.)
In a departure from the Grand Princess design where the Skywalkers disco was set high up in the air on deck 19 at the aft end of the ship, the SkyWalker disco on Diamond has been set back down on deck 17. It still offers magnificent views, and it lends the ship a more sleek exterior appearance and allows more sunlight to fill the stern swimming pool area. This new design also gives the discos their own 125-foot balconies.
The Captain can marry passengers, whose friends and families ashore can witness the whole event on the Internet, via the ship's Webcam.
Sports activities include cyber golf, a mini-golf course, shuffleboard, a large deck chess set, a tennis court, a jogging track, a "swim against the current" lap pool, regular aerobics classes (some additonal charges may apply) a gymnasium and non-coed steam and sauna rooms.Cuisine
Each of the four themed alternative restaurants aboard offers delectable choices. But because their ranges are constricted, it's a very good thing that their menus are supplemented by the International Dining Room's full menu, which changes each evening.
The cruise fare-included dining options and restaurant serving times are a bit confusing. Suffice it to say you select whether or not you want traditional or personal choice dining when you book your cruise. They will advise you where to go and at what times when you arrive at the ship. Yes, you can change your mind if you want - just consult with the Maitre' D.
Princess's special Champagne Breakfast includes a half-bottle of chilled champagne, a warm basket of homemade pastries, smoked salmon, a medley of fruits and berries, and Alaska King Crab quiche. It's served in-cabin, and costs $25 for two.Restaurants
How not to love this: any passenger in any restaurant can request a special item from any of the others. And diners in the traditional restaurant can order from the menus of the specialty restaurants! So, if you and your dear spouse disagree about where to eat on any given night, you can still get that grilled steak from the Savoy.
The huge, handsomely decorated Horizon Court, on Lido Deck, serves as a 24-hour casual-dress alternative dining area. Instead of standing in a single buffet line, you move freely among the various stations. Breakfast here is better than in the dining room.
On the stern on Deck 6, the traditional, assigned-seating 518-seat International Dining Room is the ship's largest dining room -- and the hardest to find, look for the aft elevators or stairs and walk down as far as you can - there you will find the entrance.
Amidships, just aft of the atrium on the port side, the Asian-themed Pacific Moon features fresh sushi and a don-'t-miss sampler comprising pot sticker, dim sum, and spring roll. Next door, at the Southwestern-themed Santa Fe, fresh guacamole is prepared right before your eyes. One deck down, Vivaldi's serving staff wear Italian tricolore vests. Next door, the Savoy serves prime rib.
At Sabatini's, whose atmosphere is that of an Italian trattoria, you order only your main course. Everything else -- antipasti, shrimp, crab cakes, mussels, homemade pastas - is served as a sampler. The courses just keep coming to the point where you actually start to laugh each time the waiter arrives with yet another delectable tidbit. El momento del verdad (as the bullfighters say, "moment of truth") occurs when he asks what you would like for your main course. You're already full! By meal's end, you will wonder if you'll ever be able to move again.
A gourmand's dream come true, for a $20 surcharge. Forward of the Horizon Court, the newly rechristened Savoy has the same carnivore pleasing menu as the Sterling Steakhouses on the rest of the fleet, requires reservations, and charges a $15 cover.
The restaurants offer a good wine selection, from $20 to $50 per bottle. If you bring your own wine aboard you will be levied a $10 fee to remove the cork.Service
When it comes to restaurants, the best service comes from choosing the traditional dining option where you get the same table and servers every night. The downside, of course, is that you give up flexibility. You are allowed to change your mind after you board the ship, so why not choose traditional when booking and see how you like your table and tablemates? If it isn't a love connection, switch to the personal choice dining. Other onboard service aspects; bar and cabin service, are universally exemplary.Tipping
A per-person per-day charge of $10 is added automatically to your stateroom account for dining and stateroom personnel. This applies to all passengers, including children, regardless of their dining choices. The amount may be increased or lowered at the Purser's Reception desk during the cruise.
A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage tabs. Gratuities for spa, casino and other staff are at your discretion.
We’re frequent cruisers and just completed our first Princess cruise in July (2013), taking the Diamond Princess from Anchorage to Vancouver. Overall, we’d say, regretfully, that the highly touted Diamond did not live up to its rating.
There were many areas where Princess could greatly improve. To start with, check-in was very arduous. It took 45 minutes for my son and me to check in, while other passengers were whizzing through in 3 to 5 minutes. Even my wife and daughter, who had a separate cabin and were helped by a different attendant, got checked in a matter of minutes and had to wait for us. I can only ascribe our misfortune to the particular attendant who was checking us in. She asked for help from a manager and a co-worker, and then still took a long time after those others helped her. Her excuse: our records were not in the computer and had to be re-entered. Twice. Really? Maybe you’ll be lucky and get one of the properly-trained check-in attendants, but why should there even be this kind of glitch? For us this was a really inauspicious start of the journey.
TheDiamond Princess drastically needs to better train its desk staff. It’s our habit to call the desk from our cabin for information - it’s just faster than going down to the desk. But at least 5 times when we called the front desk no one answered, even after up to 15 rings. There was no voicemail system. We found this frustrating, disturbing, and unusual -- on Celebrity or Carnival ships someone picked up the phone within 2 rings. There was one time a staff member did answer the phone and I asked the hours of the child care center. It took the staff member 9 minutes to find out the answer, and the information she gave actually turned out to be incorrect. During the cruise we checked our folio from time to time at the front desk and we found an erroneous charge. It took the desk staff over a day to figure out the issue with the charge. Really? - a one day turnaround time on a 7-day cruise? All in all, desk service was unacceptable.
We had a 5-year old “princess” in our party but there were very few kid-friendly amenities onboard the Diamond Princess. Yes, they did have the child-care service but there was almost nothing a family could do with their young children. Other cruise lines offer miniature golf, water slides, a sprinkler park, even rock-climbing. Carnival has basketball courts and a jogging track. The Diamond Princess had nothing like that besides ping pong and swimming. In our opinion this limited whole family activities significantly.
Princess did get some of the basics down. Cruising through Glacier National Park was memorable, with the innumerable ice floes and glaciers. The weather was so temperate you really did not need a heavy coat to sightsee from the deck. We also greatly enjoyed the food in the main dining room, and the service of our waiters and our cabin steward were unimpeachable. (We’ve also found excellent dining room food and steward service to be the case with Carnival and Celebrity, the other cruise lines we’ve toured with. Cruise lines have this down.) Food in the cafeteria was more limited. Eggs Benedict and a custom noodle bar, which were standard in the Carnival cafeteria, were noticeably missing on the Diamond Princess.
All in all, we probably will not cruise Princess again. They offer nothing beyond the other cruise lines, and were found deficient in a number of areas we feel are very important.
I have mixed feelings about my Jan 2008 cruise on the Diamond Princess. I enjoyed the food and the staff; our steward, and our two waiters were wonderful. But I really didn't care for the ship at all. I was probably most irritated by the Internet Café, which was virtually a waste of time and money. I foolishly bought a nonrefundable $75 package for the internet, not knowing that the ship has a notoriously poor satellite connection. In 85 minutes I was able to send one email. I understand that when you are in the middle of the Pacific sometimes the connection will be slow, but the connection was never good, and as this became increasingly clear to the passengers the internet café eventually became a deserted room and remained so for the length of the cruise. If you are planning on taking a cruise on this ship, you might want to just wait to go to an internet café in port. It's cheaper and faster.
Since it is named the Diamond Princess one might expect the ship would sparkle, but sadly it doesn't. A little bit of spit and polish, somewindow washing and the replacement of some furniture in the Lido buffet would help. It is a huge ship which houses 2,670 passengers but the ship is stingy in the space it allocates in the common areas. The ceilings are low in the seemingly windowless dining rooms. The gym is ridiculously small, claustrophobic. The theatre doesn't have enough seats to accommodate the passengers in two sittings so they offer a matinee performance so everyone has a chance to see a production.
Aside from the string quartet which played in the atrium, this cruise seemed to lack even the marginal shades of elegance I normally associate with cruising. I don't expect to cruise on Princess again, even though this last cruise would entitle me to the next level of benefits for frequent travel. If they had honored my complaint at the purser's desk by giving me some credit for the internet, I might feel differently about Princess. As it stands, I wouldn't recommend this line to anyone.
My husband and I took our first cruise with the Diamond Princess to Mexico in March, 2007. In a word "Wow". We loved it. Princess really did a wonderful job of managing thousands of passengers. Service was friendly and excellent; all areas of the ship including our cabin were tidy and very clean and food was very good. Embarkation and disemabrarkation was a breeze. We never had a line up for anything on the ship. The staff were extremely organized with getting people on and off the ship at the start and end of the cruise but also for tours.
We did two tours: Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. They were professionally done and well worth the money. We arranged these through Princess and were glad we did as it totally took away the stress and hassle of arranging these ourselves.
We really enjoyed such a a large ship with all the amenities and options that were available. We never felt it was too big or difficult to find our way around.
We loved our balcony cabin. It had more room than we expected to have. A balcony is wonderful for sittingout and enjoying the ocean, the sunsets/sunrises and having a meal or snack.
The Captain's announcements were appreciated and humourous. We appreciated staff not using the intercom all the time.
We opted for traditional dining. It was very enjoyable meeting others and having wonderful service with the same staff each night. I would try the anytime dining the next time for comparison. There certainly are enough options for eating on this ship. The buffet was well organized and food always hot, tasty and attractively prepared.
Our only comments for improvements are: the beds and pillows are hard! Also, charging for every pop and coffee is silly and should be included in the cost of the fare.
We highly recommend Princess for a cruise and plan to travel with them again.