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Just Back from Diamond Princess 17-Day Grand Japan 7/8/16-7/25/16 ... AMA!


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How about most interesting ports. The makeup of the passengers on board. What if any change in the menu in the MDR. Buffet. Any surprises with people and customs in Japan. Most enjoyable moments. :) Thanks

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How about most interesting ports. The makeup of the passengers on board. What if any change in the menu in the MDR. Buffet. Any surprises with people and customs in Japan. Most enjoyable moments. :) Thanks

 

No single port stands out - they were all interesting in their own way (even Korsakov :) ).

 

Based on previous posts here, I was expecting the English-speaking pax to be primarily Aussie/NZ. There were a lot of those, but there were also a lot more US people then I expected (something like 600 on the second leg), as well as Canadians and Brits (I'm a Texan, for reference). We also had a non-negligible number of Dutch/South African folks, a sprinkling of other Europeans, maybe 50-100 Russians, and a good chunk of Chinese. And, of course, probably close to 40% Japanese.

 

FWIW, the US people included a LOT of Hawaiians.

 

In the MDR, you'd typically have one Japanese-style option for each course. And the "every day" options on the left side had 8-10 Japanese items, and only a couple of pasta options for the Westerners.

 

Buffet always had stuff Japanese people like to eat (miso soup, ramen bowls, dried who-know-what), and also had plenty of stuff Westerners like to eat.

 

I had a hard time adjusting to being bowed to continually. That just doesn't happen in the US, except as a put-on. Even the TV newcasters would bow at the start of the show!

 

Most enjoyable moments were just knocking about the cities with no particular place to go. Actually more fun than seeing the tourist destinations.

 

We are going on the Diamond in 2018 to Australia. I would love to hear your thoughts on the Diamond in comparison to some of the other Grand class ships? General thoughts about the ship.

 

Hope you had a great time.

 

Thanks!

 

Can't compare, as this was my first Princess cruise.

 

Ship was perfectly fine. No complaints from me as to the facilities.

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Thank you very much for your "review". I am sure your format (Q&A) will be very interesting.

 

But....for clarification, I would like to use this as a teachable moment:

 

"FWIW, the US people included a LOT of Hawaiians."

 

People from Hawaii are NOT Hawaiians. They may be called "Kama'aina", "Residents of Hawaii", "People who live in Hawaii", etc.

 

The term "Hawaiians" is reserved for those people who have Hawaiian heritage. Not everyone who lives in Hawaii is Hawaiian. Hawaiian is similar in use to Chinese, Japanese, German, Polish, French, etc.

 

For example: I am Chinese but live in Hawaii. That does not make me Hawaiian unless I can trace my family heritage back to someone who Hawaiian blood.

 

Just my soap box lecture for the day.

 

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have always been interested in this cruise but it sells out so quickly.

Edited by cr8tiv1
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Based on previous posts here, I was expecting the English-speaking pax to be primarily Aussie/NZ. There were a lot of those, but there were also a lot more US people then I expected (something like 600 on the second leg), as well as Canadians and Brits (I'm a Texan, for reference). We also had a non-negligible number of Dutch/South African folks, a sprinkling of other Europeans, maybe 50-100 Russians, and a good chunk of Chinese. And, of course, probably close to 40% Japanese.

 

We were on a Grand Japan sailing in May, which was marketed as 2 segments: 11 day Kobe RT, then a 5 day Kobe to Yokohama. Our 11 day segment was probably about 60% Japanese, 25% Chinese, and the remainder Aussies, Americans, Canadians, and some Russians. The second segment was overwhelmingly Japanese, I'd say at least 80%. We didn't have nearly as many Americans as you. The 5 day segment fell over a weekend (left Kobe Friday afternoon and arrived Yokohama Tuesday morning), so that may have had something to do with the very heavy Japanese passenger load... sort of a long weekend vacation for them.

 

We really enjoyed the cruise, the port stops and the ship.

 

Did you have only traditional, fixed seating in the MDR at night? On our cruise, open seating was not an option.

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Thanks--we have a B2B on the Diamond scheduled for later this year. I'm up for all the info you can give. The food information was great.

 

Sounds like I'll be OK with not speaking any Japan (beyond a few polite words learned for the trip).

 

On our Grand Japan cruise on the Diamond in May, one of the Japanese members of the cruise staff conducted Japanese lessons several times. We learned basic Japanese phrases and greetings. Lots of fun. It was helpful to know some phrases while off the ship. Onboard, all announcements were made in both English and Japanese.

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On our Grand Japan cruise on the Diamond in May, one of the Japanese members of the cruise staff conducted Japanese lessons several times. We learned basic Japanese phrases and greetings. Lots of fun. It was helpful to know some phrases while off the ship. Onboard, all announcements were made in both English and Japanese.

 

Thanks--yes, I read of the lessons and planned to attend. Change that...my adult daughter told me that I'd be attending. She studied in Japan, so at one time spoke reasonable Japanese. She claims to have forgotten more than she remembers, but I suspect it will come back quickly.

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Pictures?

 

Yes, they allow you to take pictures in Japan. :)

 

Mine were all shot using an iPhone. Most of them are just funny/unusual stuff we saw. Meaningful to us, but not the world at large. So not much worth posting. Sorry.

 

 

People from Hawaii are NOT Hawaiians. They may be called "Kama'aina", "Residents of Hawaii", "People who live in Hawaii", etc.

 

 

Duly noted.

 

Yes, most of the people from Hawaii appeared to be of either Japanese or Chinese origin. (It was easy to differentiate the Japanese-Americans from the Japanese citizens, because middle-aged people from Japan do not go around wearing T-shirts advertising "Big Daddy's Surf n Turf" or whatever.)

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Did you have only traditional, fixed seating in the MDR at night? On our cruise, open seating was not an option.

 

Yes and no.

 

We did have only fixed seating -we were told this was needed to ensure that the Japanese passengers would be able to have Japanese-speaking servers.

 

However, on days where the in-port time overlapped the dining hours (which came up 5-6 times during the cruise), they would switch to open seating for that night. The rationale was so that you wouldn't need to cut short your shore time to make your dinner seating.

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Sounds like I'll be OK with not speaking any Japan (beyond a few polite words learned for the trip).

 

Yeah' date=' you can definitely get by without any Japanese. Having said that, some of these ports are "the sticks" of Japan, and the signs & people are largely Japanese-only once you leave the big city.

 

It was helpful to know some phrases while off the ship. Onboard, all announcements were made in both English and Japanese.

 

Frankly, it's helpful to know some phrases even while ON the ship. The Japanese passengers were way into politeness,and would always acknowledge you when entering/leaving the elevators. It made it less awkward to understand at least phrases like "hello" and "excuse me", which we picked up at the Japanese language sessions on-board.

 

And yes, everything that was ever said over the intercom was repeated in Japanese. If I remember correctly, they'd OPEN in Japanese, then repeat in English. All the front-desk staff was bilingual.

 

They also purposely booked talent (such as the featured singer and the comedy juggler) who were bilingual.

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Yes and no.

 

We did have only fixed seating -we were told this was needed to ensure that the Japanese passengers would be able to have Japanese-speaking servers.

 

However, on days where the in-port time overlapped the dining hours (which came up 5-6 times during the cruise), they would switch to open seating for that night. The rationale was so that you wouldn't need to cut short your shore time to make your dinner seating.

 

Yes, same here. They switch to open sitting if in port later than usual. We missed the warning in the Patter, and were a bit surprised to enter the dining room and see someone else at our table. The Head Waiter was very nice though, and seated us in the same area so we'd have the same waiter. :)

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Did you take the train from Tokyo to port?

 

No, we didn't. But plenty of other people did.

 

During the "pitstop" day in Yokohama between cruise legs, we kicked around town for a few hours, then headed back to the ship in early afternoon. On the way back, it was almost like a snowball, as we accumulated more and more fellow cruisers, all heading to the port terminal. And many of those had all their luggage with them. So I assume they took the train to Yokohama, then legged it the remaining several blocks.

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I'll be boarding Diamond Princess on 9th Sept for an 8-night Japan itinerary and your thread is making me more excited than I already am! Thanks for creating it.

 

Did you use the Izumi Japanese Bath and if so, how did you find the facilities, experience etc? If not, did you happen to notice how much Princess charges for it? I recall reading somewhere that it's pay-per-day or pay-per-entry.

 

Also, was there much to see during the scenic cruising in the Japan Inland Sea and Kanmon Strait?

 

Last one! Were there lectures on any of the ports or Japanese culture etc besides the Japanese lessons which someone mentioned above?

 

Thanks in advance!

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Did you use the Izumi Japanese Bath and if so, how did you find the facilities, experience etc? If not, did you happen to notice how much Princess charges for it? I recall reading somewhere that it's pay-per-day or pay-per-entry.

 

Also, was there much to see during the scenic cruising in the Japan Inland Sea and Kanmon Strait?

 

Last one! Were there lectures on any of the ports or Japanese culture etc besides the Japanese lessons which someone mentioned above?

 

Thanks in advance!

 

 

1) Believe it or not, I DID use the Izumi bath - twice. I was the only gaijin I ever saw anywhere near the facilities the entire cruise. Cost was $15/visit, or 5 for $60. Facilities were well-kept and lightly used.

 

The first time, I was the only one there until I was leaving. Since you're walking around buck-naked, there is no staff inside the facilities themselves. I had to figure it out on my own. That led to some comedic situations, like when I cleaned myself head-to-toe with what I later concluded was a foot bath station.

 

The second time, there were 3-4 Japanese natives - older gentlemen - using the facilities. One of them even asked me on the way out how I enjoyed the bath. "Very relaxing, yes?" Given that they have 4 hot tubs, a sauna, and a cascading shower, none of us were ever in the same spot at the same time. The second time, I also made use of the outdoor hot tub. (Yes, I put on a swimsuit first. :) ) There were two older Japanese ladies out there, and my presence was definitely a "farting in church" situation. Since the main part of the bath is single-sex, I think they were unaware that the outside part was supposed to be co-ed. Either that, or they thought I was crashing the hot tub without paying for the Izumi bath. Anyway, I came in and they left in a dither 30 seconds later. Sorry ladies. :)

 

2) On our cruise, we only had one "scenic cruise" day, whch was a 100% bust. Thick fog, and we were not allowed to come closer than 3 miles from shore. So no hope of seeing a d@mn thing. Cold and rainy, so the outdoor pool and movie screen were worthless. Plus, since we weren't out to sea, the casino couldn't open either. None of that is the fault of Princess, though.

 

3) Most definitely! I didn't make much use of it, but they had Japanese dance classes, craft classes, "Wear a Kimono" sessions, etc. They also brought on Japanese folkloric entertainers in multiple ports.

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Last one! Were there lectures on any of the ports or Japanese culture etc besides the Japanese lessons which someone mentioned above? Thanks in advance!

 

They have pre-recorded port talks available on demand in your stateroom, but they are very short, around 3 minutes. I would have preferred a live presentation in the theater. Also, I will add that on our cruise, there were no "shopping ambassadors", which I sometimes find annoying.

 

edit: the local Japanese entertainers were most interesting, try not to miss it; these will be in the ports where you have a late departure

Edited by RJ2002
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I will be on the Diamond in January, round trip from Singapore (Ports: Bali, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Phuket).

 

I am wondering if there will still be such a strong Japanese influence, since we are not going to Japan. I hope they maintain the flavor---

 

Has anyone done a trip out of Singapore on the Diamond that did not go to Japan?

 

Thank s!

Tracie-Lynn:)

 

PS- I can't wait to try the Japanese baths!

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I will be on the Diamond in January, round trip from Singapore (Ports: Bali, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Phuket).

 

I am wondering if there will still be such a strong Japanese influence, since we are not going to Japan. I hope they maintain the flavor---

 

Has anyone done a trip out of Singapore on the Diamond that did not go to Japan?

 

Thank s!

Tracie-Lynn:)

 

PS- I can't wait to try the Japanese baths!

 

We have sailed on the Diamond from Singapore, in additional to recently doing a Japan r/t, so I can comment on the difference. Our experience, a few years ago, was that the Singapore cruise did not have same onboard Japanese influence. Open seating was available, announcements only in English, more standard Princess menus in MDR, etc.

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No, we didn't. But plenty of other people did.

 

During the "pitstop" day in Yokohama between cruise legs, we kicked around town for a few hours, then headed back to the ship in early afternoon. On the way back, it was almost like a snowball, as we accumulated more and more fellow cruisers, all heading to the port terminal. And many of those had all their luggage with them. So I assume they took the train to Yokohama, then legged it the remaining several blocks.

 

Thank you for posting your experiences! There are so few posts about Diamond and all of us traveling on her soon really appreciate it. How were the specialty restaurants? And also, anything you can think of that was a negative?

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How were the specialty restaurants? And also, anything you can think of that was a negative?

 

1) I didn't eat in either the Italian one (looked at the menu, seemed to skew heavily towards seafood) or the sushi one. I did eat once at the steakhouse, which was just a cordoned-off section of the buffet seating. It was fine - exactly what you'd expect.

 

2) Yeah, just like most things in life, I could rattle off a long list of negatives if I put my mind to it. But why torture yourself? Take away just the positives and forget the negatives, as the CD on my trip last year said.

 

But, since you asked...

 

a) When everything is explained twice (once in English and once in Japanese), it takes more time. Always. Not sure what you could do about that. That's the trade-off for avoiding the "sea of Americans" that many cruises have.

b) The casino was closed A LOT. Since I enjoy gambling, that put a damper on things. Again, not much to be done about that. The cruise path tended to hug the Japanese coast, rather than go far into open water. I doubt Princess was willing to endanger a bazillion-dollar ship to make a few K in the casino.

c) Due to the B2B nature of the cruise, there was quite of bit of repetition in the ship's entertainment. Actually, it wasn't as bad as it could have been, as we got a new cruise director, party band, Hawaiian band (excuse me - band from Hawaii), and guest vocalist on the second leg.

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But, since you asked...

 

a) When everything is explained twice (once in English and once in Japanese), it takes more time. Always. Not sure what you could do about that.

 

We were on one cruise (not Princess) where announcements were made in five languages. That really took a good bit of time.

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