Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Diamond Princess
Sailing Date: November 6th, 2004
Itinerary: Mexican Riviera
First of all we received a phone call on Friday night stating that passenger embarkation would be delayed on Saturday until 2:00 p.m. That would really cut into the time I wanted to spend exploring the ship. But we arrived at 1:30 and were on the ship before 3:30. So it wasn’t that bad. Since we had our 2 daughters with us it meant a little rushing to get them registered for the children/teen programs, but after the excitement of it all we all turned in shortly after sailaway with our new found CC friends from online and dinner.
We had cabin E301 on the Emerald deck. It is a handicap accessible cabin, which we did not specifically request, but were grateful for the 300 sq. ft. and very large bathroom. We had plenty of closet space (2 large ones). Our obstructed view was above the life boat, so we could see out the large window quite easily and could look down at the water rushing by next to the boat on days at sea. The decor was bright and cheerful. This is a quad room and the bunks are hidden in the ceiling until the cabin steward makes them up at night. There was a small refrigerator, desk and sitting chair. The bathroom was stocked with shampoo, conditioner, lotion and soap twice daily. My only complaint about the room was the hair dryer. It took forever to get your hair dry. No big deal, next time I pack my own. We had a crying child in the cabin next to us, but the minute they shut the door to their cabin I could not hear the crying. The soundproofing of the rooms is amazing. Unlike hotels where you hear the shower and toilet of your neighboring hotel rooms.
We chose Anytime Dining and enjoyed it, although the reservation system is pretty silly. We only made a reservation one night. Other times we walked in at 5:30 and were seated at some of the better tables. We dined with friends two nights with a table of six, two nights with just our family with a table of 4 and once just the two of us at a table of two. Here are my pros and cons. Pros: You can get the menu from the main dining room in addition to the specialty items from the individual restaurant. You are not locked into the 6:30 or 8:30 traditional seating times. The atmosphere is unique in each restaurant. Best foods: Pacific Moon - Sushi Appetizers; Vivaldi - Escargot; Sterling - Onion Rings (w/sauce); Santa Fe - Guacamole and Blue Crab Cocktail. I enjoyed the seafood and fish entrees in all the restaurants. Best dessert: Love Boat Dream. Cons: The service does not seem as personal in the theme restaurants as the main dining room, with the exception of head waiter Manuel in the Sterling. If you are not drinking wine with dinner, you will have a tough time getting your ice tea or other beverage refilled. I wish there had been more selection of salads and vegetarian items on the menu.
We ate breakfast on the “at sea” days in the International Dining Room. The food and service were always impeccable. We ate at the Horizon Court for a few breakfast and lunches. My husband loved the selection of foods at the Horizon Court. I on the other hand found them less appetizing in appearance and taste. We did use it create appetizer trays to enjoy pool side a couple of times, which included roasted turkey, a variety of cheeses, cracks, rolls and fresh fruit. My husband enjoyed the hamburgers and fries at the pool and the pizza was pretty good.
Pools, Activities & Entertainment:
There seemed to be plenty of lounge chairs at the two main pools. The pools got crowded at times on the warmer days and the pool temperature went from warm to cold. That didn’t stop myself and my daughters from spending a lot of time in them. There were fun pool games and bar service was plentiful. If you have the ability to stay awake 24 hours a day, you would be able to find something to do almost every minute of the day. We didn’t participate in many activities, but they were plentiful. We really enjoyed the musical production of Piano Man in the Princess Theater on the first formal night. We heard from many that the new production of Undercover was not nearly as good. There was a good Comedian/Magician named Lorenzo Clark that we caught on the night we could not get into Undercover. Internet Café: Computers are hit and miss. It took me 10 minutes to find out that the first computer I was on wasn’t working. The next computer got me on in less than 2 minutes.
Puerto Vallarta: We went to Las Caletas Hideaway through Vallarta Aventures. The crew was energetic and fun. After a 30-40 minute boat ride from the ship to Las Caletas we were presented with a very organized list of activities. First there was trip to visit the Sea Lion (we missed this one), then a group snorkeling tour, a lengthy kayaking trip, paella cooking lesson, pottery class and nature walk. Las Caletas is a perfect location to enjoy the sun and warm water of Puerto Vallarta. Beverages were free flowing after the snorkeling tour and the buffet style lunch was delicious. On the way back to the ship drinks continued to be served and the crew put on a very entertaining show. We were very impressed with Vallarta Adventures. We did not book this excursion through Princess, but were on the same boat as the cruise passengers. If anyone would like to know the company we booked with, please e-mail me.
Mazatlan: This is where booking outside of the cruise excursions proved to be a HUGE mistake! We booked a Stone Island Excursion with a not so reputable company. We were given an impromptu, unscheduled stop at a cathedral and the cliff divers then driven to a very scary dock where our boat was docked. The boat was old and dirty. We were given a boat ride to see the caves and sea lions and then brought to Stone Island, which is a short ride straight across from the ship. Stone Island is a long strand of beach with a row of restaurants and activities. There are ATV’s to rent, banana boat rides, horseback riding, kayaking and snorkeling. We did the banana boat ride, but passed on riding the malnourished horses owned by this particular company. Live and learn I say.
Cabo San Lucas: We have been here before so we knew our way around. We walked from the tender pier to the beach via the harbor front shops past the very Americanized mall. We picked up a glass bottom water taxi to take us around Los Arcos from the Sea of Cortez to the Pacific Ocean. We skipped Lover’s Beach (been there done that). The water taxi brought us back to the tender pier where we shopped a little before returning to the ship. There is definitely not enough time in Cabo.
Our 5 and 13 year old daughters LOVED the programs offered on the ship. There were many organized activities and crafts for the 3-7 year olds for the younger one and our teen LOVED being able to hang out in the Off Limits Teen Center until 1:00 a.m. The staff in the kids programs was awesome!
We were out of our cabin at 8:00 a.m. and then spent the next four hours waiting to get off the ship and then spent another 30 minutes in the immigration line. We were Green 1, which was toward the end of list of being called.
The ship is beautiful! I wish I had a few more days to just spend exploring, because it took me all 7 days to find everything I was looking for. The overall service was good. We enjoyed the ports with the exception of Mazatlan, which was hugely based on our bad tour company. The food in the International Dining Room for breakfast and lunch was very good and service impeccable. We enjoyed the additional menu items offered in the theme restaurants along with the main menu. The reservation system for Anytime Dining needs some work or should be discontinued so that Anytime Dining is truly “anytime”. Our cabin was quite comfortable and our cabin steward (Dexter) kept it in top shape without ever being intrusive. Our daughters were treated like royalty by everyone that worked on the Diamond Princess. The entertainment was pretty good. It was a great cruise. So much so that it is hard to adjust to reality. ;-)