Diamond Princess Cruise Review by Robyn.fnq
- Sail Date: January 2017
- Destination: Asia
On embarkation, we weren't guided to our room, but had to find it ourselves.
The room was smallish, about the same as a low budget motel room. The bed was comfortable, the bathroom adequate except for the teensy shower recess with a curtain that would move every time the elbows or knees bent, only to allow water to flood the whole bathroom.
There are no coffee and tea facilities in the room, but has a bar fridge. I like to rise early and sit on the balcony with a coffee (without having to dress and go look for the coffee). Room service is available on request, but that means waiting or ordering for a specific time. The coffee was absolutely not worth bothering about anyway. It tasted like weak instant coffee. There is no fresh milk available, only UHT. In the lobby bar there is an espresso machine, but again, the coffee was very substandard. Cappuccino had a minimal layer of froth and just tasted like the same weak instant coffee. And it costs US$2.50 plus tax.
The room has a large hanging closet and a cupboard with shelves and a safe. The room has a phone and hairdryer. The balcony was large, but due to mainly rainy weather, we were unable to make good use of it.
There are several dining options on board and we chose to use all of the included ones. There are specialty dining areas with a cover charge, which we didn't use.
On the whole, food served was below standard, obviously cooked and kept warm for extended periods, but not warm enough. All 'hot' food was served well below optimal temperatures. All 'cold' food was not quite cold. We were not the only ones to suffer gastric upsets after eating this food. This resulted in 2-3 days of the cruise being lost due to quarantine restrictions. The buffet has a large selection of foods, but obviously kept warm for long periods. Seafood was always overcooked.
The more formal dining rooms were quite nice, we chose to be seated with other guests most nights, so had a chance to chat with many different people. That was a positive thing, but the food was disappointing. The menu was almost identical every night, with a couple of different dishes. There is a special menu available for each specific dietary requirement.
The entertainment on board was adequate, most days offered dance classes, cards, shuffleboard etc. The outdoor movie screen was enjoyable (day and night), and the staterooms have large TV with movies available. Evening entertainment was enjoyable. Most of the bars had live entertainment each day.
Embarkation and disembarkation procedures were managed well, customs and immigration officials efficiently catered for. Of course, there is the usual long wait similar to overseas travel queues. On the days when tenders were required for going ashore, passengers were made aware of the limitations of this transport, so that those with limited mobility would not try to board tenders. At one port there was a 3+ hour delay for tenders, while passengers were crowded into one of the dining rooms to wait. This should have been foreseeable by the cruise line and managed differently. Also, passengers should have been warned that although we anchored at 7am we would not be disembarking until much later. We had arranged to meet friends at 10am and we were 2 hours late, but could've made different arrangements if we'd known in advance.
Staff on the ship were always polite but seemed to lack a 'sparkle', which made me think they were not totally happy in their jobs. They were all willing to help, with questions answered immediately.
There is a casino with table games and slot machines. I am not into gambling, so I cannot comment on the quality of the casino.
Drinks on board were expensive, and always had a tax added on the price.
It seems Princess lines uses an American system of compulsory tipping, even though we sailed from and to Singapore, which does not have this custom. The mandatory gratuity amount is calculated per passenger, per day, and adds up to quite a substantial addition to the fare already paid. As I had questioned this custom before embarking, I was told Australian passengers are not obliged to tip, but must arrange for this as soon as the cruise began, not before. The cruise price was on a par with other companies, so I did not feel comfortable paying extra for food, drinks, and mandatory tipping. I was prepared to tip in the same manner as I do at home, when I feel I have had exceptional service. This didn't happen.
One pleasant surprise was an ice-cream bar open every day where soft-serve is free.
Princess has arranged land tours for visited ports, but due to the prices of these, I didn't take advantage. We arranged our own tours and transport on land at a fraction of the price.
The general atmosphere on board is clean, though we noticed on successive days that the same cups and rubbish were not removed from outdoor areas, perhaps for 3-4 days at a time.
There is a gym and a spa, with expected pricing, similar to prices at home. The pools were clean, though not supervised.
There were not many children and teens on board, but they had specialised entertainment as far as I could tell.
Overall, the whole experience was not wonderful, but suffering food poisoning made the holiday much less than enjoyable.
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