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Diamond Princess January 22nd-February 3, 2015 I am a Platinum cruiser, and this is my 5th voyage on the Diamond, 3rd time this trip, and last time was 2012. Diamond Princess has had a recent $30 Million refit, now aged 11 years old. She remains our favorite ship, in excellent condition, the food and entertainment still of a consistent and good standard. Firm recommendation to anyone wanting a good quality, big ship cruise experience. My critique, is based on my many cruises and any criticism is aimed only at seeking improvement Embarkation Ship boarded at Auckland. Received excellent boarding service assisted by being allocated the “preferred line” as a Platinum member, and getting there early! The ship in general The Diamond Princess is a lovely large ship, sister to the Sapphire which we have also sailed on. Diamond was launched in 2004, and remains in excellent shape. The refit in late 2014, added a Sushi specialty Restaurant, unfortunately charging al-a-carte prices, a large Japanese Bath house, and minor changes to the Buffet restaurant .116, 000 tons, 2700 passengers and 1200 crew. Some people aboard found the size of the ship a little overwhelming and they thought a smaller ship would be more to their liking. We can understand that but we like the larger ships with more people and facilities and choices on board. Although there were approximately 2700 passengers on board we never felt crowded. Used the Gym fitness machines each day, great to see Princess unlike Celebrity Solstice do not drown you out with music in the Gym and I also had flutter on the Casino, which offers plenty of options for those who enjoy the gambling opportunity. The Gym did not open until 7am, and I believe it should be open from 6am. Exercise before eating makes sense. An irritation and also unsafe practice, was children under 16 were allowed to use the Gym, supervised by parents. What is supervision, I saw a couple of mishaps with 5-8 yrs. olds, and kids under 16 should not be allowed in the Gym, with powerful machinery etc. Change your policy Princess, someone is going to get hurt in that environment and the Gym is not a playground. Waiting for an 8 year old to finish the treadmill, while Mum talks down the other end of the Gym is poor customer service, and I saw two tumbles from the cross trainer during this cruise by kids, one which looked quite serious e.g. bloody nose and a bruise Princess cruises add a USD 11.50 a day per person amount to your bill and that covers your tipping for the total cruise. This is done so that people employed on the ship who are not in direct contact with the ship can also receive something. If you don’t like this idea you can negotiate with the Pursers office to have the amount reduced if you wish, and envelopes for tips are available. If you are using several appliances in your cabin at the one time it might be an idea to bring an adaptor board, as there is only one general plug. This is a USA type plug so if you are coming from another country you will need to bring an adaptor. We were extremely impressed with Sky Walkers nightclub and daytime lounge, which is situated at the back of the ship 18 floors up. At night-time it is a disco after 10.30pm and during the daytime is a restful area for reading and just watching the sea. On days when the sea is rolling you can sit on the side wing and look right down the left side of the ship to the Bridge and notice the pitching motion of the ship. The chairs in sky walkers are extremely comfortable. During the daytime you can always get a seat there for reading or quiet time. The other bars and public seating areas of the Diamond were excellent, roomy and stylish. Excellent Piano playing throughout and a string quartet of females were pleasant on the eye and played great music. The library on board is too small, with the Internet facilities spilling over into the library, limiting seating. A Reasonable range of books available. The Internet café is roomy and is taking over space previously for library users. Both are needed, and the balance between books and computers needs review. As mentioned the internet café is large with lots of computers. We never had to wait to get on a machine, you pay but not unreasonable prices Floor shows in the evening, and specifically the Dance Company and singers was excellent. They did 4 presentations, equal to Conrad Jupiter’s stage show levels. The support entertainers covered a wide range from Sinatra crooner type, to Dolly Parton Remembrance show. Overall the formal and stage entertainment was of good quality, all part of your travel package Solid range of late release movies shown on upper deck or available in room. Good work here Princess, my wife watched more than a few while reclining in the cabin. Good range and up to date selection. I missed on this 12 night cruise, the formal history or geographic lectures of the past, but the live commentary on the Sounds, while cruising the Fiords, was world class Excellent range of cooking demonstrations, wine tastings excellent range of choices every day, including the usual bingo, table tennis, bridge games. Art shows were very visual. Soft freeze cone ice-cream available at no cost, a nice touch. The weather conditions throughout were favorable and no rough days at all. However motion sickness is a real issue on NZ/Aussie cruises. This can be addressed by planning e.g. good range of patches/tablets if one is prone. The reality is cruises in this part of the world are not calm, e.g. Pacific Princess 2004 we had two days of Force 6/7 seas, and reasonable sea motion is a reality in this part of the world. Dining Traditional 1st or second sitting evening dining room sitting versus anytime dining are great options. We prefer anytime dining, and there were 4 choices plus the 24 hour buffet, plus the open-air Trident grill and Pizza bar. We dined most days buffet breakfast in the Horizon, often had lunch in the traditional dining room (not available in the evening for anytime diners) and then at night, in one of the 4 anytime restaurants. Menu in each is the same as traditional dining restaurant, but we liked the change of waiters, décor and loved being able to eat anytime in the evening between 5.30pm and 10pm. If you had not booked, there was sometimes a small wait, but no great problem. Two specialist restaurants available. Sterling (steak) restaurant with $25 surcharge per person was not great value, but the specialist Italian restaurant at $25 surcharge per person was excellent. The new Sushi restaurant had great décor, but having to pay al-carte-prices, needs addressing If you are on 1st or 2nd sitting dining you must dine in the International dining room although you can book into the 4 Anytime dining rooms ( 24 hrs. change notice)if you wish for a change. If you are on anytime dining you can only go into the 4 specialist dining rooms and not the International dining room in the evening. addition The buffet at Horizon Court on deck 14 was good value, the new dessert and Asian option component done as part of the refit, adding a new dimension to this dining facility. Everything seemed fresh, lots of choice and we thought the food tasted fine. Open most hours was great. Service was good tea, and their breakfast buffet top class A nice touch was English High tea served by waiters in white gloves 3.30-4pm served daily in the Pacific Moon dining room. Room Service Available 24 hours at no charge limited menu but pleasant. Our cabin We had an inside stateroom on the 11h level.B202. Very pleasant. We made the decision not to have a balcony cabin, Apart from saving money, cruises in this part of the world are often affected by weather, rain or wind, and that limits use of the balcony. In Europe a must, but not this part of the world. The design of the cabin made good use of mirrors to enhance the feeling of light and maximize space. The open space wardrobes without doors provided plenty of hanging and excellent storage space for our requirements. The room configuration made it seem very spacious. Our main cases fitted side by side quite comfortably. Bedside lights have dimmer switches. Soaps and towels were changed twice a day. Bathroom shower pressure excellent. There is a safe in every room and our cabin had a fridge. Outside your door on the side is a letterbox with your cabin number on it so that the any newsletters or other information can be left for you. If you wish to drink bottled wines in your cabin Princess seem to have no problems with you purchasing wines or champagne and bringing them on board at embarkation (Small print says 2 bottles). You can take these wines into the dining room but you will be charged an USD15.00 corkage fee. They charge for spring water in your cabin so we always take a water bottle with us and go up to Horizon Court and fill the bottle up with fresh water from there. A minor complaint was we could hear voice transfer from Cabin B206 next door. Not impossible but a nuisance PORTS OF CALL Mt Maunganui, Akaroa and Port Chalmers were the NZ Ports. Due to our local knowledge and pat cruising did no NZ shore excursions? The Mount Maunganui mooring was right at the town centre, so walked off and explored this lovely seaside town and I walked the hill. At Akaroa I walked around the lovely Town. Port Chalmers was a great sunny day, and I discovered a local lookout and a great church, both which overlooked the moored Diamond Princess, and I found a couple of the village antique shops interesting. No stress here. Shore excursions are great and there was plenty of choice for those aboard. They are time consuming and you pay a surcharge for everything being done for you, but Princess does it well. FIORDLAND The 12 nights Diamond Princess cruise- weather permitting cruises through the Fiords. We struck a lovely day and entered Milford Sound early in the morning. Magnificent. Then visited Thompson and Doubtful Sound. We had lovely weather on this day, A magnificent part of the world, and the trip was worth it for this magic day alone. MELBOURNE The ship docks at Station Pier the port for Melbourne, which is a little way out of town. Again you have a choice of doing your own thing or taking tours. If you want to travel around on your own there is plenty to do. We would suggest you get off the ship and walk to the end of the pier near where the tram stop is. Purchase a metro pass costing AUD 6.50 per person, which allows you unlimited travel on the buses, trams and trains around Melbourne for the whole day. It will take you about 20 minutes to travel into the centre of Melbourne on tram 109. On your return to ship look again for tram 109 to Port Melbourne. About 2 stops before reaching the Collins Street - Elizabeth Street stop which is in the centre of the city you must get off the tram and go to the top of the Rialto tower for a great orientation view of Melbourne. You then must visit the famous Victoria markets about 3 stops from the centre of the city. Melbourne is a city of Parks and Gardens so a walk through Fitzroy Gardens is a must. St Kilda to the south a busy café scene is worth a look as is Lygon Street to the north a mecca for restaurants and the café society. We are very familiar with Melbourne, so this time Shirl took the Tram and went shopping, and I walked to St Kilda and back. HOBART Arrival in Hobart is at Constitution Dock about 10 minutes’ walk to the centre of town past the docks where the Sydney to Hobart yachts arrive. Again there are very good tours of the city and surrounds arranged by Princess. I visited the Tasmanian Museum. Good! Disembarkation Getting off the ship at Sydney was well organized and no issue We thoroughly enjoyed the Diamond Princess, rated by Berlitz Guide to Cruising 20015 in the top 20h best Large Cruise ship. Princess offers great all round value. A good product.

Still a Great Ship

Diamond Princess Cruise Review by alwaugh@xtra.co.nz

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
Diamond Princess January 22nd-February 3, 2015
I am a Platinum cruiser, and this is my 5th voyage on the Diamond, 3rd time this trip, and last time was 2012.
Diamond Princess has had a recent $30 Million refit, now aged 11 years old. She remains our favorite ship, in excellent condition, the food and entertainment still of a consistent and good standard. Firm recommendation to anyone wanting a good quality, big ship cruise experience.
My critique, is based on my many cruises and any criticism is aimed only at seeking improvement
Embarkation
Ship boarded at Auckland. Received excellent boarding service assisted by being allocated the “preferred line” as a Platinum member, and getting there early!
The ship in general
The Diamond Princess is a lovely large ship, sister to the Sapphire which we have also sailed on. Diamond was launched in 2004, and remains in excellent shape. The refit in late 2014, added a Sushi specialty Restaurant, unfortunately charging al-a-carte prices, a large Japanese Bath house, and minor changes to the Buffet restaurant .116, 000 tons, 2700 passengers and 1200 crew. Some people aboard found the size of the ship a little overwhelming and they thought a smaller ship would be more to their liking. We can understand that but we like the larger ships with more people and facilities and choices on board. Although there were approximately 2700 passengers on board we never felt crowded. Used the Gym fitness machines each day, great to see Princess unlike Celebrity Solstice do not drown you out with music in the Gym and I also had flutter on the Casino, which offers plenty of options for those who enjoy the gambling opportunity. The Gym did not open until 7am, and I believe it should be open from 6am. Exercise before eating makes sense. An irritation and also unsafe practice, was children under 16 were allowed to use the Gym, supervised by parents. What is supervision, I saw a couple of mishaps with 5-8 yrs. olds, and kids under 16 should not be allowed in the Gym, with powerful machinery etc. Change your policy Princess, someone is going to get hurt in that environment and the Gym is not a playground. Waiting for an 8 year old to finish the treadmill, while Mum talks down the other end of the Gym is poor customer service, and I saw two tumbles from the cross trainer during this cruise by kids, one which looked quite serious e.g. bloody nose and a bruise
Princess cruises add a USD 11.50 a day per person amount to your bill and that covers your tipping for the total cruise. This is done so that people employed on the ship who are not in direct contact with the ship can also receive something. If you don’t like this idea you can negotiate with the Pursers office to have the amount reduced if you wish, and envelopes for tips are available.
If you are using several appliances in your cabin at the one time it might be an idea to bring an adaptor board, as there is only one general plug. This is a USA type plug so if you are coming from another country you will need to bring an adaptor.
We were extremely impressed with Sky Walkers nightclub and daytime lounge, which is situated at the back of the ship 18 floors up. At night-time it is a disco after 10.30pm and during the daytime is a restful area for reading and just watching the sea. On days when the sea is rolling you can sit on the side wing and look right down the left side of the ship to the Bridge and notice the pitching motion of the ship. The chairs in sky walkers are extremely comfortable. During the daytime you can always get a seat there for reading or quiet time.
The other bars and public seating areas of the Diamond were excellent, roomy and stylish. Excellent Piano playing throughout and a string quartet of females were pleasant on the eye and played great music.
The library on board is too small, with the Internet facilities spilling over into the library, limiting seating. A Reasonable range of books available.
The Internet café is roomy and is taking over space previously for library users. Both are needed, and the balance between books and computers needs review. As mentioned the internet café is large with lots of computers. We never had to wait to get on a machine, you pay but not unreasonable prices
Floor shows in the evening, and specifically the Dance Company and singers was excellent. They did 4 presentations, equal to Conrad Jupiter’s stage show levels. The support entertainers covered a wide range from Sinatra crooner type, to Dolly Parton Remembrance show. Overall the formal and stage entertainment was of good quality, all part of your travel package
Solid range of late release movies shown on upper deck or available in room. Good work here Princess, my wife watched more than a few while reclining in the cabin. Good range and up to date selection.
I missed on this 12 night cruise, the formal history or geographic lectures of the past, but the live commentary on the Sounds, while cruising the Fiords, was world class
Excellent range of cooking demonstrations, wine tastings excellent range of choices every day, including the usual bingo, table tennis, bridge games. Art shows were very visual.
Soft freeze cone ice-cream available at no cost, a nice touch.
The weather conditions throughout were favorable and no rough days at all. However motion sickness is a real issue on NZ/Aussie cruises. This can be addressed by planning e.g. good range of patches/tablets if one is prone. The reality is cruises in this part of the world are not calm, e.g. Pacific Princess 2004 we had two days of Force 6/7 seas, and reasonable sea motion is a reality in this part of the world.
Dining
Traditional 1st or second sitting evening dining room sitting versus anytime dining are great options. We prefer anytime dining, and there were 4 choices plus the 24 hour buffet, plus the open-air Trident grill and Pizza bar.
We dined most days buffet breakfast in the Horizon, often had lunch in the traditional dining room (not available in the evening for anytime diners) and then at night, in one of the 4 anytime restaurants. Menu in each is the same as traditional dining restaurant, but we liked the change of waiters, décor and loved being able to eat anytime in the evening between 5.30pm and 10pm. If you had not booked, there was sometimes a small wait, but no great problem.
Two specialist restaurants available. Sterling (steak) restaurant with $25 surcharge per person was not great value, but the specialist Italian restaurant at $25 surcharge per person was excellent. The new Sushi restaurant had great décor, but having to pay al-carte-prices, needs addressing
If you are on 1st or 2nd sitting dining you must dine in the International dining room although you can book into the 4 Anytime dining rooms ( 24 hrs. change notice)if you wish for a change. If you are on anytime dining you can only go into the 4 specialist dining rooms and not the International dining room in the evening.
addition
The buffet at Horizon Court on deck 14 was good value, the new dessert and Asian option component done as part of the refit, adding a new dimension to this dining facility. Everything seemed fresh, lots of choice and we thought the food tasted fine. Open most hours was great. Service was good tea, and their breakfast buffet top class
A nice touch was English High tea served by waiters in white gloves 3.30-4pm served daily in the Pacific Moon dining room.
Room Service
Available 24 hours at no charge limited menu but pleasant.
Our cabin
We had an inside stateroom on the 11h level.B202. Very pleasant. We made the decision not to have a balcony cabin, Apart from saving money, cruises in this part of the world are often affected by weather, rain or wind, and that limits use of the balcony. In Europe a must, but not this part of the world.
The design of the cabin made good use of mirrors to enhance the feeling of light and maximize space. The open space wardrobes without doors provided plenty of hanging and excellent storage space for our requirements. The room configuration made it seem very spacious. Our main cases fitted side by side quite comfortably. Bedside lights have dimmer switches. Soaps and towels were changed twice a day. Bathroom shower pressure excellent. There is a safe in every room and our cabin had a fridge. Outside your door on the side is a letterbox with your cabin number on it so that the any newsletters or other information can be left for you.
If you wish to drink bottled wines in your cabin Princess seem to have no problems with you purchasing wines or champagne and bringing them on board at embarkation (Small print says 2 bottles). You can take these wines into the dining room but you will be charged an USD15.00 corkage fee.
They charge for spring water in your cabin so we always take a water bottle with us and go up to Horizon Court and fill the bottle up with fresh water from there.
A minor complaint was we could hear voice transfer from Cabin B206 next door. Not impossible but a nuisance
PORTS OF CALL
Mt Maunganui, Akaroa and Port Chalmers were the NZ Ports.
Due to our local knowledge and pat cruising did no NZ shore excursions? The Mount Maunganui mooring was right at the town centre, so walked off and explored this lovely seaside town and I walked the hill. At Akaroa I walked around the lovely Town. Port Chalmers was a great sunny day, and I discovered a local lookout and a great church, both which overlooked the moored Diamond Princess, and I found a couple of the village antique shops interesting. No stress here. Shore excursions are great and there was plenty of choice for those aboard. They are time consuming and you pay a surcharge for everything being done for you, but Princess does it well.
FIORDLAND
The 12 nights Diamond Princess cruise- weather permitting cruises through the Fiords. We struck a lovely day and entered Milford Sound early in the morning. Magnificent. Then visited Thompson and Doubtful Sound. We had lovely weather on this day, A magnificent part of the world, and the trip was worth it for this magic day alone.
MELBOURNE
The ship docks at Station Pier the port for Melbourne, which is a little way out of town. Again you have a choice of doing your own thing or taking tours. If you want to travel around on your own there is plenty to do. We would suggest you get off the ship and walk to the end of the pier near where the tram stop is. Purchase a metro pass costing AUD 6.50 per person, which allows you unlimited travel on the buses, trams and trains around Melbourne for the whole day. It will take you about 20 minutes to travel into the centre of Melbourne on tram 109. On your return to ship look again for tram 109 to Port Melbourne. About 2 stops before reaching the Collins Street - Elizabeth Street stop which is in the centre of the city you must get off the tram and go to the top of the Rialto tower for a great orientation view of Melbourne. You then must visit the famous Victoria markets about 3 stops from the centre of the city. Melbourne is a city of Parks and Gardens so a walk through Fitzroy Gardens is a must. St Kilda to the south a busy café scene is worth a look as is Lygon Street to the north a mecca for restaurants and the café society.
We are very familiar with Melbourne, so this time Shirl took the Tram and went shopping, and I walked to St Kilda and back.
HOBART
Arrival in Hobart is at Constitution Dock about 10 minutes’ walk to the centre of town past the docks where the Sydney to Hobart yachts arrive. Again there are very good tours of the city and surrounds arranged by Princess. I visited the Tasmanian Museum. Good!
Disembarkation
Getting off the ship at Sydney was well organized and no issue
We thoroughly enjoyed the Diamond Princess, rated by Berlitz Guide to Cruising 20015 in the top 20h best Large Cruise ship. Princess offers great all round value. A good product.
alwaugh@xtra.co.nz’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin B206
As in Main review. Pleasant but could hear noise transference (voices) from B 206 next door. Not impossible but a nuisance
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