Number of Cruises: 1..
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Diamond Princess
Sailing Date: May 4th, 2004
If you're anything like I am and you get really excited about vacationing and are anxious to know all the details before sailing, than this is the review for you. This was my first cruise, a 4 day Alaskan cruise on the brand new Diamond Princess.
First there was the embarkation in Vancouver. This was all quite fast and there wasn't a lot of waiting. practically just got our room cards and then walked on the boat. I had seen many different pictures of the ship before boarding, but it didnt prepare me at all. The boat was 2000 times more breathtaking in person. We had our picture taken as soon as we got onboard which literally only took one second, and then we were greeted by a man in an elevator. We found our room by ourselves...really simple, and Constantin of Romania, our room steward, greeted us shortly after. We had plenty of time between boarding and the muster stations to explore the boat. Our bags were outside of our door within 2 hours of embarkation.
The food was nothing less than great. There was the horizon court, a buffet, open 24/7 which always had a wide selection of food. There was so much that I HAD to eat 7 meals a day. Other than that, there were 5 themed dining rooms: Sterling (steakhouse), Pacific Moon (chinese), International Dining Room, Santa Fe (mexican, and Sabatini's (an Italian dining room that cost 20$ per person for a traditional 3 hour seating - 18 course meal!!)I ate everywhere but pacific moon and sabatinis, but I heard nothing but great things about Sabatini's! I recommend getting "anytime dining," meaning, you may go to the dining rooms whenever you feel like eating (when they're open of course). BUT...if you really want to eat in one of the dining rooms,making reservations is practically a MUST! Each night of the cruise the dining rooms were booked full both seatings. The only reason my friends and I got in each night was because some people wouldnt show up. I recommend making reservations A.S.A.P for the entire cruise, even if you aren't sure that you are going to keep them. Service was very friendly and generally quite fast. I felt like I was stealing when I got up after we had finished and just walked out without paying a $100 bill. Finally, if you plan on buying soda, I suggest you buy one of thoe Coke stickers they put on your room card which go for about 12$ a piece and allow you an unlimited supply of soda. However, my friends and I only bought one and shared it between the 4 of us. All they do is look at the sticker anyways.
Ahhh the entertainment! This was my only regret about going on the cruise. There was literally SO much going on at all times that I could never do everything I wanted. The boat had it all: horse races, "Passenger Feud" (Family Feud), Trivia games, even Jeopardy! Of course they had many classes one could go to, but what 17-year-old wants to go to school on his vacation. I was mroe than satisfied with allof the activities. You also got to win a lot of prizes, I won many myself. They had Newlywed Game, and even an American Idol knock-off, "Princess Idol," that took place each night of the cruise where the audience voted on contestants to advance. This was loads of fun just watching, and anyone above 18 may enter. Dancing was a blast. I am NOT one who dances..I mean, I can't! But eah night in Club Fusion they has a theme. Some included: Country night, 50's night, 60's night, and my personal favourite, 70's night. They would even teach everyone dances famous from that time period or genre. In addition, during these themed nights, they had many different little acitivites they would do inbetween a few songs of dancing. They could be really fun and unpredictable. Some included a Tina Turner dance-off during the 70's night, and Hoola Hoop contests - men and women, in the 50's night. These were all for prizes of course, and they wouldn't just tell you what was going to happen. They would trick you into doing these things which made it that much more fun. I loved all the passenger participation. There was also the Skywalker's Lounge which was a club that catered more to 18-23 year olds,and played more modern music. The dance floor was small, and I found that it was nowhere near as fun as Club Fusion. There was a lot of live entertainment playing all the time throughout the ship from singers, to bands, to comedians. I didn't see any shows at all; however, I heard the Piano Man was sensational. Virtual Golf was a lot of fun (it costs money as you must make resverations), the pools were always nice, particularily the jacuzzi's that were outdoors during the night time before bed. Nothing is more relaxing. There was also mini golf...I don't recommend it. It was really small and there was nothing dividing all the different holes, so people's balls would be rolling all over the place. Kids had a lot of fun playing it though, which is another reason not to go play if you aren't one, as it takes them like 30 minutes to move to the next hole when it would only take someone older, 3. There was a tennis/basketball court which was nice to play , and a track to walk around at the very top of the boat. Although, you aren't going to need the exercise. There is so much walking to do on this boat that I wish I had a wheelchair. There is also the gym which has everything you could possibly need. There were also the kid centers and the teen center. They alwaysd had a lot of various things going on, and my friend and I coccasionaly went to the teen center. Being with them, we got benefits such as free virtual golf. It was actually fun even though there weren't many teens on our cruise.
The staff was always nice and quite helpful. On the last day of the cruise, the newspaper advertised "You made the difference" cards that you fill out about an employee that made the difference. It sounds cheesy, but I think that you should take the 2 minutes it takes to do it. I don't need to be telling you anyways, as you are going to want to fill out many!
The rooms were nice. My friend and I had an inside stateroom, but the 2 chaperones, our teacher and the travel agent had an outside stateroom with a balcony. They were each the perfect size and quite comfortable. There was loads of room for storage and the bathroom was a decent size. If money isn't much of an issue, I do however, suggest getting an outside cabin, unless you bring an alarm clock, because in an inside cabin it was so dark when we woke up because we had no natural light. I woke up and figured it was 4am, so I went back to bed.Apparently it was noon. A tip to get a good wake up call is ordering room service for breakfast in the morning, because the person who brings you the food will knock on your door until you open it, they do not just leave. At night your room steward leaves you a card you put on the outside of your door that has a list of foods you may check off that you want the next morning. Wake up calls were useless, for me at least, but maybe that is because I am a deep sleeper. I didn't even hear the phone ring. I don't suggest wasting a lot of money on a fancy room, because you really spend no time in it other than sleeping or getting changed.
As for the ports of call, we only stopped at Ketchikan. There isn't much I really have to say. Apparently it rains 300 days of the year and the rest of the days it is overcast, but we were luycky to have a clear, sunny day. I did not sign up for any excursions as none of them itnerested me. I only left the boat for about 2-3 hours. Ketchikan really wasn't that exciting. All the shops basically sold the same things. The boat was MUCH better.
I really don't know what else there is to cover. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best, I would give this cruise, or cruise ship at least, an 11. I just wish it was longer and days werre 30 hours long! After having been on this cruise, I am convinced that cruising is the only way to travel! Although, if you do want to make it a cruise, aim for somewhere like Mexico, especially if you're going with kids or you're a younger couple. I found that there were almost no other kids my age and not many young-young couples. Rather, people 30-50. Although, I was talking to a few staff members and they told me that Alaskan cruises are popular with 30-50 year olds and...Asians, which it seemed almost the majority of the cruise was.