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hockeyucf

Different Diamond Princess Review, 7/30-8/6

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Just wanted to post a fresh perspective on the Diamond Princess’ Alaska sailing 7/30-8/6/05. I’m doing this sort of unorthodox style mini-review because a) there are a million other normal reviews that you could read, and b) I felt like I was on the ship with a lot of people who would disagree with me and wanted to make sure you understood the different perspectives of different travelers. I’d be happy to answer any questions, too. First, let me tell you a bit about us because I feel like one’s own frame of reference makes a world of difference in how one perceives a cruise (or anything else, for that matter).

 

 

 

About us: We are 25 and 27 years old, love to travel, usually independently as opposed to all-inclusive. We’re not wealthy by any stretch, but it’s a high priority to us to have nice vacations and see new places. We are interested in nature/photography/hiking and are pretty active. We consider ourselves to have moderate taste when it comes to food, anything from pizza to Taco Bell to Bennigans to a 4 star restaurant is good on occasion (let’s admit it, there’s always SOME time when a slice of greasy pizza sounds yummy). We’re laid back folks and typically consider “good service” to be when we request something and it’s done in a reasonable amount of time (not necessarily within 5 minutes, but not a day), and is generally of acceptable quality (a mixup here and there is fine, we don’t expect perfection). We are pretty mellow for our age, not big partiers or anything but enjoy live music, etc.

 

 

 

Vacation details: This was our first cruise. We were looking for a taste of Alaska, and a cruise seemed to be a good way to do this. Although we sprung a lot of money to actually get on the boat, we decided not to spend like crazy on excursions or other extras. We flew into Seattle 2 days early and stayed one day after- got a great deal on the Renaissance hotel (priceline) and rental cars (internet reservation). On the ship, we had an inside cabin and personal choice dining.

 

On to the cruise…

 

Embarkation- yes, there are lines. When thousands of people try to get on the ship at once, this will happen. We were through everything and on the boat within 30 minutes, which I consider very reasonable. I was amazed at how stressed out and frustrated people were in the lines- you’re going on vacation, chill out!!

 

 

 

Food- I will agree with the numerous other posters who rank Princess’ pizza highly. The daily special was not quite as good as the cheese (which I am now craving hourly). The sit-down meals were somewhere between well above average and stellar. Of note, the shrimp cocktails and cold soups were consistently excellent. Silver medals go to produce items (including fruits and fruit desserts) and seafood. We found the service in the Savoy to be better than either Vivaldi or Santa Fe (We didn’t try Pacific Moon). The one thing I was sort of disappointed in was Princess’ ability to work with chocolate. To me, most of the soufflés and other chocolate items lacked a certain… chocolatiness. Then again, I’m a chocoholic and therefore tough to please in this category. As far as breakfast goes, I found the selection and quality to be quite adequate. And yes, ice cream is served (no charge) in the horizon court for an hour or so in the late afternoon. We did not do the soda card, instead opting for iced tea most of the time (okay, okay, I ordered soda twice, at well under the cost of the soda sticker). Alcoholic drinks were mixed strong and were priced very reasonably, we felt. Personally, we chose not to stuff our faces, instead choosing what we wanted most and making up for it by walking up the stairs. The menu features vegetarian and healthwise choices. Since, as mentioned, Princess does very well with fish and produce, I had no problem making healthier selections. I didn’t gain any weight, either J.

 

 

 

Entertainment- We enjoyed a few of the shows, as well as the karaoke and dancing classes. The galley presentation was a lot of fun as well. We played bingo twice, and while some argue that it’s a scam, we had fun with it (that’s all we were really looking for) and the way we saw it, it was either that or the casino where we could lose some $$$.

 

 

 

Staff- At the very minimum, they do their job and do it well, but 99% of the staff that we came in contact with was pleasant, eager to please, helpful, and so on. ‘Nuff said.

 

 

 

Ports- Sort of disappointing if you think of it in terms of “Alaska vacation” but quite acceptable if you think of it as “A Taste of Alaska built around a Big Vacation.” Our favorite port was Skagway, where we rented a car and did the Emerald Lake drive. The other cities were sort of disappointing- the last thing I wanted to see as I stepped off the boat in “pristine” Alaska was a neon sign and jewelers hawking stuff from the Caribbean, but we did our best to walk outside of the touristy areas and found that to be much better. I think that for an in-depth Alaska experience you would really need to do a road trip. I also think that this is where the excursions would have been nice, as they by and large get you out of port, but I also sort of felt that it would be like the “contrived nature” float trip… Take tourist and plop in boat. Push said boat off and away they go into “nature.” Please don’t flame me, just my opinion. Our second favorite port was Victoria- we walked from the ship into town, there are incredible street performers, among other things, that shouldn’t be missed.

 

 

 

Ship Amenities- The ship, as others have commented, is sparkling and beautiful. Having no other ship to compare it to, I won’t. But I will say that we found plenty of places both indoor and out to relax and read. The gym boasts a beautiful view and was completely empty after the second day of the cruise. Most often, we found ourselves in club fusion for activities. We also frequented the theater, which is nicely done with great stage lighting.

 

 

 

Other Passengers- Mostly older, some families with kids, few couples our age. We thought the kids were well behaved (hey, they’re on vacation too and need to blow off some steam) but I could tell that some of the other passengers were disturbed by smelly rowdy misbehaved kids (I’m kidding here, the kids I saw were none of those adjectives). Which brings me to my next point. I, and my boyfriend (to a lesser degree) found some of the other passengers, quite frankly, snobby. We overheard some snobbish comments as well as some ridiculously high expectations that could only have come from a snobby person. In addition, we had some snobby comments directed at us (we were seated at dinner, not roaming the halls drunkenly or anything like that)! I was quite taken aback. In retrospect, I wish I had said something to this gentleman in particular.

 

 

 

Disembarkation- We carried our own bags and took advantage of the express disembark or whatever it was called… It meant getting up early (disembarked at 7:30) but there were zero lines getting off the boat. I highly recommend doing this if you are able.

 

 

 

Overall- I’m very pleased with the experience and value received for the money spent. We skimped where we were able (priceline for hotels, didn’t spend on excursions), but felt fine about spending what we did. We ate plenty, saw plenty, and relaxed plenty. Since that’s exactly what we were looking for, I rate the enter experience an A+ J.

 

 

 

Okay, I think I’ve rambled on enough, and I do have to get back to east coast time sooner or later… Hope this was helpful for someone, and feel free to ask away!

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Thanks for your review:) I miss the Diamond:) Victoria is a great city! The sailings out of Seattle spend less time in Alaska because it takes longer to get there, if you take a departure from Alaska you will get to see a lot more of the state. Because of my spouse's work schedule we aren't able to do that yet but hope to in the future.

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Hockeyucf

 

Great review, we are also going on our first cruise in Sept. my husband is 32 and I am 28, we will be on the Diamond and really aren't picky either, I hate it when people alway's find the bad in everything, I have been waiting for this cruise for over a year now and just want to have fun, without hearing any negativity, I hope our experience will be great. Do you think you will cruise again sometime in the near future? Thanks, Misty:)

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Hockeyucf --

 

What a pleasure to read your review! I, too, like to enjoy my vacation and not "pick" about every little thing that "might" go wrong -- according to someone else's expectations. After all, we are only human (at least most of us).

 

Thank you again -- glad you had a great time. Maybe we'll see you in the Caribbean?:)

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Other FAQs

- There were no major mosquito problems at any of the ports

- Cingular is everywhere except Victoria, and sometimes you can even get service at sea

- You can see lots of whales from the ship if you just hang out on the decks and keep your eyes peeled

 

Thanks for the replies :) I think we'd definitely cruise again, but focus more on the vacation part than the ports (I'm making an assumption that most ports are touristy like Alaska, no idea if this is true or not). As soon as I get this money and limited vacation time thing resolved... :p I would definitely spring for a Princess cruise again, but I'd be willing to try other lines as well. Next time, I would like a balcony, or at least outside cabin- particularly in a scenic place like Alaska. Everyone told me we'd hardly be in our rooms so an inside would be no big deal, but there were times where we wanted to just bum around in the room and the balcony would have been great.

 

Hope you guys enjoy your cruises as much as we did, hey, you're on vacation!!!!

 

-Cara

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Thanks for the review.

 

If you guys are looking for less touristy then I would suggest a Canada/NE sailing. The ports that we stopped at had a much less touristy feel.

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off the top of my head:

Meet the Fockers, Aviator... Hmmm that's all I can remember... some play in the theater and some you can see on your in-room TV. If I can find my patters I'll post the complete list, but I'm not sure if they made it back to Orlando with me.

 

Also, thanks for the Canada/N.E. suggestion, we would definitely consider that!

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Thanks for your interesting review! I agree with you about the snobbish people - had some on our cruise last year. Some people did not want to smile at all - I remember seeing some in the elevator - felt like saying "Smile you are on a cruise! Enjoy!" All these Diamond reviews are making it harder to wait for our cruise! :D

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Thanks for the great review. Absolutely nothing to flame about. It was honest and from the heart. Can't ask for more. Sounds like you had a wonderful vacation. I was there in May 04 and enjoyed every minute of it.

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