On the Nov.20th Thanksgiving cruise aboard the beautiful Diamond Princess, there were over 700 children. As four of them were our grandchildren, we were did not find them to be disruptive whatsoever...just delightful. This was our 7th cruise and this ship is hands-down the most beautiful one we have ever sailed on. Princess spared no expense when building this ship. Our service was exceptional and the food was very good. We were traveling on a limited budget and want to share some tips for others who may be in the same situation.
We bought a pkg of 10 neck lanyards at Office Depot for $5. and took a hole punch. When we were issued our boarding card, we punched them and hung them around our necks. People asked us all the first day where we got them, I wish I had brought more to share. They are sold on board for $4. each.
If you are going to Puerto Vallarta first and have forgotten anything, not to worry. You will see a huge Walmart/Sam's Club a block from where you dock. Walking there is easy, we brought back bottled water ($2. eachon board) and Corona beer (4 for $15.). Each cabin has a refrigerator.
The unlimited coke stickers are a very good deal. You can get cokes at any bar or restaurant but not from room service. We saved a lot by buying each child one.
Make sure to have reservations at the restaurants early. We had to have Thanksgiving dinner at the buffet because we were misinformed about how far in advance we could reserve. it is one day in advance for the first 2 days only, then you can do the entire week.
We strongly recommend this beautiful ship and plan to go again next year.
This was our first cruise, and we chose Diamond Princess because it is one of the few ships that cruise to Alaska from Seattle (most depart from Vancouver). If you take this cruise, spend a day or two in Seattle before or after the cruise. We enjoyed visiting Pike Place Market, the Seattle Aquarium, Nordstrom's, the Space Needle and the Experience Music Project.
Overall our experience on Diamond Princess was excellent. Our group of nine included children aged 10-13 and adults aged 45-75. We booked three mini-suites with balconies (sleeps four, with choice of 2 twin or 1 queen bed, fold out sofa and bunk bed that drops down from the ceiling). Our suites were adjoining and connected via the balconies. I expected the cabins to be cramped but we had plenty of room. Definitely go for a balcony room on this cruise! The scenery is fabulous in spots, and you can frequently see humpback whales surfacing near the ship.
We booked the 6 pm traditional dinner seating in the International Dining Room which allowed our family to get together each day for dinner after going our separate ways on board shipor at ports. At dinner, the food was very good to excellent, exceeding my expectations for cruise fare. We generally ate breakfast and lunch at Horizon Court, the 24 hour buffet, which was overall of good quality, although at peak times there can be a line. Burgers at the Trident Grill were good. The pizza place was not great, and the ice cream parlor has an additional charge. We also tried afternoon tea at the Pacific Moon. The tea experience was a bit disappointing (for example, there was no choice of tea, and it was not served in individual tea pots), it is NOT comparable to high tea that you might be served in a nice hotel.
A note on "dressing for dinner." There were two "formal" nights on our 7 night cruise. However, although some people arrived in tuxedos and gowns, you really don't need to. A dark suit and tie for men and a nice dress for a woman is very appropriate. On other nights, dress was "smart casual" which appears to be anything except shorts, t shirts, and jeans. So, a pair of khaki pants and golf shirt for a man, and a slacks/skirt outfit for a woman would be fine.
If you are new to cruising like we were, beware, you will eat too much! Luckily there is a well-equipped fitness center on board, jogging track, and also some free exercise classes (there is an additional $10 per class charge for yoga, pilates, and spinning). To get a treadmill at peak times (7 am -10pm) you need to reserve a day ahead.
Our kids really enjoyed the kid's program. They joined the Princess Pirateers, for kids aged 10-13. The kids were well entertained with crafts, science activities, games, Playstation, juke box, dances, and just hanging out together. The kids room is generally open daily from 9am-12pm, 2-5pm and 7-10pm (thus mealtimes are on your own). While not a problem for lunch, this generally meant that our 6 pm dinner seating conflicted with the kids program starting at 7 pm since dinner usually ran to 7:30 pm.
Activities enjoyed by the adults in our group included country line dancing lessons (bring your boots!! there is a country western hoe down once a week in Club Fusion), the casino, stage shows in the Princess Theater and comedy acts in various lounges at night. We especially enjoyed "Bert" the zany piano player who entertained in the Crooners lounge almost nightly, with sing-a-longs and requests. If you order a martini here you may be treated to a special "shake" from your server!! Oh yes, there is lots of opportunity for drinking on board, and note that while food is included in your cruise fare, drinks are not free (and 15% service charge is added on to the price).
One of the surprises on our trip was the weather. We had NO RAIN and it was in the 70's most days. We generally needed nothing warmer than a fleece jacket or sweatshirt, except for the morning we cruised down Tracy Arm, which was rather cold and windy. You could use a windbreaker and a cheap pair of gloves. One day was actually hot and I had to sit in the shade on deck! There are something like 9 swimming pools on the ship, but only a few of the small ones are reserved for adults. So expect the pools to be filled with kids!
A few words about the ports and cruise excursions. In Alaska, we stopped at Juneau, Skagway and Ketchican. These towns survive principally on tourism, and are filled with jewelry stores and souvenir shops (most appeared to be tourist traps). We are not into shopping, but if you are, you might want to attend the "shopping talks" given by the ship's shopping advisor. If you have the money for excursions (which tend to be quite expensive), I would recommend either the scenic flights (such as helicopter to Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau), or active adventure type activities that get you off the beaten track and away from town. For instance, we enjoyed canoeing to Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, and several of our group went snorkeling in Ketchican. Also recommended in Ketchican is the Sportfishing and Wilderness Dining. Steer clear of most of the town tours (although we did enjoy the "Original Streetcar" in Skagway). If you like museums, you should visit the Alaska State Museum in Juneau (about a 15 minute walk from the ship). There is an extensive exhibit on Alaskan native culture, an interesting eagle nest diorama, and exhibits on Alaska history from Russian settlement through present. A popular excursion in Skagway is the White Pass Scenic Rail trip, but note, it is a four hour train ride, and there is no food on the train.
We also stopped in Victoria, Canada, but arrived at night and only for a short while (7 pm-midnight). This was nothing to write home about. One of our party enjoyed the "pub tour." Some of us tried the "ghosts and graveyards" tour, which, apart from a visit to an interesting Chinese cemetery, was pretty dreadful. The last graveyard we went to was in a park frequented by derelicts. In retrospect, we probably should have tried the Butchart Gardens tour, or just stayed on the ship. I would have liked to see the Royal British Columbia Museum, but since we were there at night, it was not open.
Disembarking in Seattle was fairly organized but we had to wait about an hour after leaving our stateroom. You will be assigned a color and number code and you have to wait for your color/number to be called. They expect you to be out of your stateroom by 9am so they can be cleaned, so there is a crowd of people hanging out on deck and in the lounges. The kids got pretty restless through this process. Once we got off the ship, customs and luggage claim was a breeze, but flagging a taxi into town was a free-for-all. It might would probably help to have the Princess transfers.
Overall a great trip, and we would cruise again in the future. Although we were very satisfied with the Diamond Princess, we might try Royal Caribbean next time. Hope this helps your cruise planning!
I was on the 5/15 departure of Diamond Princess to Alaska. As many travelers probably already know, this is the ship that had the "accident"- damage when trying to dock in Victoria. We were fortunate because we only missed our flight the following day and were able to jump on another one within minutes of arriving at the airport.
The ship: Brand new and lovely. Lots of space and easy to kind a cosy spot for reading or relaxing. Never felt crowded.
The entertainment: The production shows were mediocre. There was a naturalist on board that talked about his experiences Alaska. This guy was great! Had a slide show with many beautiful pictures.
Excursions: Booked all through Princess. Did each wildlife excursion offered at the ports and were simply amazed. Saw humpback whales, seals, bears, bald eagles, and other exotic wildlife.
Food: Very good. One minor disappointment was the buffet. Just not enough space for that many passengers. Had to search for a spot each morning for breakfast. Slim pickins. And the desserts were more like finger cakes and not very tasty. No doughnuts. Dining room was very enjoyable as well as the service.No complaints.
Service: Great. No complaints here either, just one or two mildly grumpy employees. May have been having a bad day because when we saw them later they were very cheerful and conversing with other passengers.
The room: Had a balcony room on the Dolphin Deck and brrrr was it cold! There is no protection from the elements with the open air configuration. I still bundled from head to toe and enjoyed watching the scenery every day.
In all, our best cruise ever. Alaska is a beautiful, natural, friendly, place and we are already planning to return next summer. This was our first Princess cruise and made an open booking while onboard because we were so happy with our experience.
This was the first time I have ever been on a cruise, so it is hard for me to compare. I had a good time on the cruise to Alaska and considering the ship was new, I guess that is why it had so many bugs to work out. I do want people to be aware of the medical center. PLEASE call your insurance ahead of time if you plan on taking a cruise and especially if you are elderly or will be needing possible care.
There are certain insurance carriers that do not cover this because the ship is not registered as a US ship. My grandmother ended up paying over $3500.00 out of pocket. They also made her get off in Victoria and didn't see that she got to the hospital and admitted safely. They never did admit her and she had to take the clipper back to Seattle. What a mess!
This was our third cruise, the second on Princess. Our first Princess was on the Grand in 2002.
Pre-Cruise We arrived in Los Angeles a day early and booked the transfer and hotel with Princess. They did a great job. We were met immediate at LAX by a Princess rep who grabbed our bags off the conveyor and walked us out to the shuttle stop to the Marriot. The next morning, they came to our room at 10:30 and took our bags. Got on the bus at 1:30 and at 2:00 we were at the port in San Pedro. Grade: A
Embarkation: We filled out all the passenger information online weeks before we left. So we had express check-in when we arrived. It was seriously no more than 15 minutes from the time we stepped off the bus until I was standing on our balcony in our stateroom. There at least 4 buses checking in at one time. Princess did a great job with us & express check-in! Grade: A+
Ship This is a GREAT ship! It's similar enough to the other Grand class ships that you know your way around.But there are enough differences to still feel new. Even with 2,700 people on board, we were never in a crowd. Decks are laid out very well and plenty of room. Grade: A
Service You couldn't pass a crew member without him saying "Good morning" and smiling. Without exception. The dining room waiters seemed a bit more business-like than they do in traditional dining rooms (we had anytime dining). Bartenders were always prompt. The casino staff was extremely pleasant. Grade: B+
Food The food was very good. I'm no gourmet, so I guess when you get to a certail level it all seems good to me. We ate in each of the 4 specialty resteraunts. The Sante Fe is about the same as any upper end Tex-Mex place you'd see in the states. Good food, but nothing spectacular. The other three were very good. The buffet menu was changed every day and for dinner included many of the items from the traditional menu in the dining rooms. Not cafeteria quality buffet food. Ice cream was good, but I don't like having to pay for ice cream. The girl working there said it used to be free but the line of kids stretched all the way across the Lido deck when it was. Grade: B+
Cabin We had a Lido deck balcony. I find the finish of a Princess cabin nicer than a Carnival cabin. Little things like the wood accents, refrigerator, etc. The balcony was great. I'll find it hard to cruise without one. Bathrooms on Princess are, however, more cramped than on Carnival ships. But we weren't hurting for space. Grade: B+
Onboard activity You could do as much or as little as you wanted. There was the golf chipping contest, hairy chest contest, blackjack tournament (I won), slot tournament, dance lessons, bingo, horse racing.... the whole gammut. Or you could sit in any of the very quiet pool areas. They had a deck party one night. If you were bored on this trip, it was your own fault. Grade: A
Entertainment We saw one of the two main shows. It was very good. We spent the other nights watching comedians in some of the other lounges. One comedian was not funny, but the others were. The lounge bands were pretty good also. Grade: B+
Dis-embarkation This took a while. It wasn't a Princess issue, it's a INS/Customs issue. Princess did a great job of staggering the departures and getting you your luggage after you made it through INS/Customs. It wasn't an unbearable experience, but it wasn't quick by any means. Grade: B
Ports are what you make of them, so I won't grade them. We stopped in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. I will say it would have been nice to stay in ports a little longer. Maybe it was due to time required to get to the next port. Not sure.
Overall This was another great Princess cruise. We had a great time and booked an open booking for a future cruise while still onboard. We also enjoyed our Carnival cruise. I won't say one line is better than the other, but they are different experiences. We like them both and will cruise on both again. Princess does a great job and gives you enough choices to really make your vacation whatever you want it to be. Overall I'll give this cruise an A-.
My husband and I are frequent cruisers and our agent suggested we try a Princess ship this time. We took our married son and his wife alomg on our Diamond Princess cruise. We were all extremely disappointed. Never before have we not looked forward to dining on a ship. The personal choice dining sounded like something we would really enjoy. It was a great disappointment. The wait service was very inconsistent and that's being kind. We had waiters that were very good and attentive, and brought all the food at the correct time. That was on three occasions. The other nights we were at various times,ignored actually left for twenty minutes with no waiter or anyone show up at all, given cold food, not receiving a course item we ordered, or having all the food at once. They just didn't seem to know what to do. I think the quality of some of the food should have been better. The different dining rooms are a good idea but they need more variety on their menus and better training for the waiters. The buffet for breakfast was also poor. The setup isquite awkward, selections poor, and usually cold or greasy. We would like to have eaten in our room for breakfast, but no hot food can be ordered for breakfast on room service. I think a limited hot breakfast should be made available.
The 'instant'coffee always looked muddy when you added cream and was unappetizing even in the dining rooms. The different dining rooms were all very lovely to look at and had beautiful decor but the staff was not well trained.
Perhaps it has something to do with not having to work for a tip since over $6.00 per day per person is added to our bill for wait staff. I have never before wanted to withhold a tip to the waiter, we usually tip double the recommeded amount. This time was different.
The ship is beautiful, rooms were fine, our cabin stewards were outstanding. There was evidence of wear and tear already, but overall the ship is fine. The Wheelhouse lounge is a treat and we loved the music and dancing in that bar the most of just about any ship we have been on.
The shore excursions were good. Some excellent choices which we have not had before.
I could not however recommend this ship until they fix the food problems and train the wait staff better.
Well I was fortunate again that my Grandparents took 18 of my family members on our fourth cruise this past week. We have been on 3 RCCL before. Anyways, it started off pretty rocky because we our flight to LAX was canceled due to heavy snow in Reno, the day we left. So we ended up chartering a flight to Long Beach to catch the ship with 3 minutes left to spare.
My wife and I had cabin C527 on the Caribe deck. It was very nice, enough space and very nice balcony. The cabin included two twin beds pushed together to form a queen, they were very firm, we enjoy more of a softer bed, but hey you can't please everyone. It also had a mini-fridge, hair dryer, a safe, a chair with a small glass table, one TV with (ESPN, CNN, TNT etc.) and a fair sized desk. Our cabin stewerd May was very nice and we never had to ask for anything twice. I rented a Tuxedo from the Princess website and it was there that night. The bathrooms were pretty simple, the shower was small, butit was great that it never ran out of hot water!!!
The food on the Diamond Princess was a little sub par, but being a trained culinarian I guess I was a little picky. We had Ion and Roxanna for our waiters, they did a very good job, but they lacked in personality. The dining experience was a little lack-luster, on RCCL they did tableside service and joked and played around with the guests. This time they did not. Im not talking bad about the service or the food ( I would give it a 7 outta ten), but I think that Royal Caribbean was better.
As for shore excursions, we didn't do much in P.V. just walked about the town. In Mazatlan, I played golf at the Estrella del Mar Golf Resort, it was very nice and the golf guides were very nice and helpful. This was a great course and somewhat challenging. My wife went on the Colonial Villages Tour, she would not recomend this to anyone, unless you like walking throught peoples houses and backyards to look at some guy with his butt hangin' out in a hole making bricks. You can experience Mazatlan with out paying for a tour like this. Our final stop was Cabo San Lucas, this was our favorite. We opted to charter our own fishing boat rather than the one from the ship. We went with Pisces sportfishing, they did a great job and we even caught three fish.
So in summary, we very much enjoyed this cruise. The nightlife was cut short because there were only a handful of young people on this ship. The daytime activities were a little corny but still worthwhile. If you have any questions please fell free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy Sailing, Patrick & Vanessa
What a beautiful ship! Love the new layout of cabins, you have lots more closet space than previous ships. We had no problems parking in Seattle lot which is in front of ship. No problem with processing to board. We were on the ship in less than 1 hour. We used express option when leaving ship and carried our own bags which is great if you park at pier. We were off by 7:45am. The only problem that Princess needs to work on is the personal choice dining system. If you take early or late set seating you may have no tablemates at a table of 10 as we did.
They hold the assigned seats for other passengers even though they may be going to an earlier seating at one of the small restaurants. Princess needs to let the set assignment seat go 15 min. after set-dining time so other folks have a chance to dine. Most nights the 2nd seating was quite empty. The food was excellent and the entertainment was of good quality. We will definitely use Princess again.
After sailing on over 14 cruises, we decided to try Princess. The ship was decorated in a very classy style yet it had modern designs too. First the good points, 1- I would highly recommend a balcony room, there was beautiful scenery in every port, we were outside on the balcony for much of the cruise. Plus the day we sailed to the glacier, we enjoyed the scenery with our own comfy chairs and a hot pot of coffee! 2- Don't miss the guest lecturer on alaska wilderness and the Iditarod race winner talks. It got us in the mood to explore Alaska. 3-The heated atrium pool was very colorful with mosiac designs of tropical fish and many comfy padded chairs. 4- A nice place to whale watch was Skywalkers bar on Deck 18 aft. We saw a dozen whales one evening around 7 pm. 5- The 24 hour Horizon buffet was surprisingly good with a nice variety to choose from. The dinners were also very tasty with excellent service. 6- Don't miss Sabitinis Italian restaurant.
We had a variety of appetizers, soup, fresh pastas and excellent seafood. A few improvementsneed to be made to room service. There was only a handful of items to order and they did not bother with any special orders, like a peanut butter sandwich!! The traditional dining food was average at best. Each night besides the regular menu a different personal choice menu was offered from each of the different restaurants. People who had Personal choice only had a choice of 2 dining times 6:30 or 8:30. Not too many liked the personal choice idea. Also there was no midnight buffet. The majority of the passengers were 60 and over, so the music and entertainment was geared to their taste. Most people skipped the shows, we only saw one comedy act which was very good. My 10 year old son liked the kids Pirateers club, there were daily activities and video games to play but no arcade like on Carnival. There was late nite babysitting from 10 pm to 1 am but no one stayed. Princess was good but I still think Royal Carribbean is a step above in food and service and Princess need to take some lessons from Royal Carribbean . I would definitely cruise Alaska again it was truly awesome.
Diamond Princess is a wonderful ship, with a delightful, upbeat crew and good value in entertainment and dining. But they haven't figured out how to dock the ship at Victoria. And they have no idea of how to do embarkation and disembarkation.
When we arrived at at the Seattle berth, about 11:15 AM, expecting to be able to board immediately or shortly, we were met with a cauldron of vehicle gridlock and people pandemonium.
There were no explanatory or organizational signs posted and no staff members to explain anything. There was a 100 yard winding line of people, with luggage, who were all asking what was going on!
Turns out that disembarkation, which should have started about 7:30 AM, was just starting!! We, the new passengers were stalled, without shelter or explanation or any status reports from the staff.
It was cold, threatening rain, and my wife was shivering in her wheelchair while I dashed around, asking questions of passengers who seemed to know, and finally figuring out it would be 3-4 hours before we could board.
We, as Platinum level Captain's Circle Members, had expected to have a trouble-free embarkation. The embarkation terminal building waspacked with humanity trying to stay warm and trying to find out when we could expect some relief, all to no avail. No heat, no information, and no discernible concern from the staff.
We finally got on the ship about 3:30 PM, one of the early ones because of our exalted status as Platinum members, and also because my wife was shivering in her wheelchair. When we got on, the line in the parking lot was still 100 yards long.
There was no rebate or compensation for that horrific experience.
Little did we know that the disembarkation would be even worse, that was an 8 hour experience, but at least we were still on the ship.
We were told, because of wheelchair assist, to be ready to disembark at 8AM. No staff member ever contacted us to explain the situation and provide status reports.
We finally got off the ship at 4:10 PM. We had a 4:45 flight scheduled to LA but we got to the ticket counter just as they were closing the airplane door. So we had to make alternate arrangements, and got home much later than planned.
Again, no apology, no explanation, no rebate, no compensation.
So much for their operational processes and their lack of compassion and empathy for their passengers. On that embarkation fiasco, a few staff people with walkie talkies and bullhorns, and a few home-made signs to organize the chaos would have worked wonders.
Now we have to report on their seamanship. They wrecked the ship.
The last evening of the cruise while trying to fit into an awkward, tight berth at Victoria, they lost control of the ship and a strong wind pushed the ship into the dock and the breakwater. Result was a damaged dock, damaged propeller, bent propeller shaft, and cancellation of Victoria as a stop in the itinerary.
They had to cancel the stop at Victoria so we'd have enough time to get back to Seattle the next morning. We had to travel at greatly reduced speed and we were escorted by a tug boat in case we lost control or had to stop.
In keeping with their policy of indifference and passenger disrespect, Princess did not provide any rebate, voucher or compensation for the missed opportunity to visit Victoria, as scheduled on their advertised itinerary.
The next morning we were told that Princess had cancelled the next 2 weeklong cruises and the ship would go to a repair facility in Portland. Imagine the vacation disasters facing the passengers arriving that morning, expecting to board the Diamond for a 7 day cruise.
As Platinum passengers, it is obvious that we had a strong bias toward Princess. I had paid not only for myself and my wife, but also air fare and cruise fare for 7 other family members, an outlay of about ten thousand dollars. This was a celebration of our 50th wedding anniversary, among other things. Princess spoiled it at the start, during the cruise, and at the end. I should sue or demand compensation from Princess. Perhaps I will.
I understand that accidents happen, and sometimes processes go awry temporarily. That's understood. But what I don't understand, and didn't expect, was the callous insensitivity and indifference the management staff displayed. They didn't spend any time, resources, or concern for their passengers. We were "in the dark" during all 3 of the incidents I described.
I've said I'll never sail on Princess again, in spite of the otherwise wonderful experiences we've had. Maybe time will change that, and this bad memory will fade into proper perspective. But I doubt it.