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lithlith

Diamon Princess Japan - things I wish I would have known ahead of time

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I guess you didn't eat at Kai Sushi, Sabattini's, or Sterling Steakhouse?

 

Curious - did you have a meet and greet/mingle? If so, how many folks?

We will be on the upcoming cruise with LAFFNVEGAS. Our M&M list is growing with folks from USA, Aussies, Kiwis and Brits. We should have a nice English speaking mix. I guess we won't have any ideas of the ratio/mix and queues until we board.

 

My wife and I love green tea ice cream. We are Asian American. It may be an acquired taste. Hagen Daaz has spoiled us. I currently have some generic green tea ice cream in the freezer that is meh.

 

Thanks for the posting. I can deal with a 5:30 dinner. 5 is too early. I guess it is luck of the draw which dining room you are assigned to? From my recollection of the Sapphire Princess, the main dining room is aft and secondary dining room(s) are midship. 

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56 minutes ago, JWUC said:

Thanks for the posting. I can deal with a 5:30 dinner. 5 is too early. I guess it is luck of the draw which dining room you are assigned to? From my recollection of the Sapphire Princess, the main dining room is aft and secondary dining room(s) are midship. 

 

Yes, that's correct, one large dining room aft and four small ones midships. I believe all dining rooms are Traditional on Japanese itineraries although I 'm not sure about Club Class, that may still be Anytime.

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On 7/21/2019 at 12:25 PM, Ombud said:

There wasn't an IC on the Diamond in October 2017 when I did the CIRCLE OF JAPAN cruise. Is it there now?

Still the same, just coffee in the atrium. No IC 

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3 hours ago, Porky55 said:

Still the same, just coffee in the atrium. No IC 

 

17 hours ago, LAFFNVEGAS said:

Before Sail Away they did the Breaking of the Sake Barrel which those announcements were done with the two Cruise Directors first in English then the second in Japanese but that was the very last time we heard any announcements in Japanese the whole cruise the remaining announcements were totally in English.

 

They still have the Sake barrel breaking ceremony in the atrium before the ship sets sail. I think it was around 3pm, then muster drill around 4pm and set sail around 5pm.

 

 

5 hours ago, JWUC said:

I guess you didn't eat at Kai Sushi, Sabattini's, or Sterling Steakhouse?

 

Curious - did you have a meet and greet/mingle? If so, how many folks?

 

Thanks for the posting. I can deal with a 5:30 dinner. 5 is too early. I guess it is luck of the draw which dining room you are assigned to? From my recollection of the Sapphire Princess, the main dining room is aft and secondary dining room(s) are midship. 

 

We didn't eat at any of the specialty restaurants. But it would have been easy to get a reservation because they looked empty every time we walked by in the evening.

 

We didn't have a cruise critic meet and greet.

 

There is one dining room at the back of the ship on deck 6, which is the only dining room open for breakfast and lunch, and then it is open for those who are assigned to it for dinner as well.

 

There are 2 dining rooms mid-ship on 5 and another 2 dining rooms right above those on floor 6.

One of those four dining rooms is marked as Club Class.

 

3 hours ago, Porky55 said:

Still the same, just coffee in the atrium. No IC 

 

Yes, no International Cafe on the Diamond Princess. There is a bar where you can buy specialty coffees in the atrium area on deck 5. There is a large case of desserts just as you enter/exit the buffet. I'm not sure if that was their replacement of having an IC on this ship or just something extra to better manage the buffet crowds.

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5 hours ago, lithlith said:

 

There is one dining room at the back of the ship on deck 6, which is the only dining room open for breakfast and lunch, and then it is open for those who are assigned to it for dinner as well.

 

There are 2 dining rooms mid-ship on 5 and another 2 dining rooms right above those on floor 6.

One of those four dining rooms is marked as Club Class.

 

The Club Class Dining on the Diamond is in Sante Fe Dining room and is the only Open Dining.

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Posted (edited)

Lithlith,

i agree with you about the Japanese lining up - we were on Diamond in May / June on a 14 day b/b cruise of Japan. For immigration to enter Taipei we go down to deck 6 to the dining rooms to hand over our passports, there’s the line. Then a shopping sale in the Pacific Moon dining room and to pay for my 2 Princess T-shirt’s - join the line.

Honestly, it’s quite easy to tell the difference between Asian nationalities and most of the other passengers on our Diamond cruise were Japanese too.

Spot on review by the way - can’t add much more other than if you go ashore on your own, it helps to know a few Japanese phrases, as there is very little to no English spoken.

Edited by Porky55

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On 7/20/2019 at 4:48 PM, lithlith said:

We recently completed a 13 day itinerary on the Diamond Princess out of Japan. It was difficult for me to find the information that I was looking for about this ship and our trip in general before we left for the trip, so I thought others might benefit from our insights. The information below is intended to be an FYI to other westerners sailing on the Diamond Princess out of Japan.

 

(We booked it as a 13 day, but it was sold separately as a 5 day and 8 day cruise so it was a back to back cruise.)

 

 

Embarkation in Kobe – we took the subway to the port.  It was great!  Super easy and dropped us right off at the terminal building.

 

 

On board the Diamond Princess  -

 

Guests - I had read online going in to this cruise that there would be a lot of Japanese guests. I was even thinking it might be 50-50 on board, but it was more like 85-15 and by that I mean 85% Japanese passengers to 15% westerner passengers.  On the 5 day part of the cruise one of the staff told us that there were only 300 English only speaking guests on board.  This isn’t a bad thing, just something to be aware of ahead of time.

 

At the captains circle get together, they went through the numbers of how many of each status level they had on board and on both the 5 and 8 day cruises that we were on the number of first time cruisers was close to two-thirds of the ship!  Now for those of us who have cruised a lot, we know that this greatly changes how things operate on board with so many newbies finding their way around.

 

 

Language & Activities - There were two cruise directors – one for the Japanese and one for the English speakers. This was really unnecessary. The Japanese cruise director spoke English and Japanese so to have an additional cruise director who only spoke English and no Japanese seemed like a waste. All of the entertainment staff (those who help with the trivias and other activities on board all spoke English and Japanese).

 

All announcements were made in English and then Japanese.  Most of the games and activities were done in both English and Japanese (heads up – this does drag out a trivia game when the question is read in English and then in Japanese, sometimes a 20 question trivia game would last over an hour!)  On some days there were activities or trivias that would be listed as Japanese only or English only, which moved along much quicker.

 

When you see an activity or show advertised in the princess patter that you want to do, do it then! There were quite a few things that were only offered once during all of our 13 days. For example, a calligraphy lesson was only offered during our 5 day cruise as was getting dressed in a yukata. The Secret of Silk production show was only offered on the 8 day part of our cruise.  

 

 

Crew - I think that most all of the crew on board the diamond princess have had to learn Japanese to be able to assist guests at dinner, with the cabins, etc.  The crew seemed super happy to see us each day but not so much with the Japanese guests. I’m not sure if it was just us who they liked or were happy to have some English speakers, since for many of the crew English is their second language, and Japanese is now their third language.   I do not think that the Japanese guests treat the crew very well.  In fact we saw multiple instances throughout our 13 days, where we couldn’t understand what was being said in Japanese to the crew, but it was clear from the way the crew would then turn around and act or look that they had just been spoken down to.  There seems to be a hierarchy in the Asian races and culture where the Japanese think they are at the top and that those from the Philippines and Indonesia (where many of the crew are from) are very much below them.  We were quite disgusted with how the Japanese guests were treating the crew, so we stepped up our niceness  🙂

 

 

Food - Menus were in Japanese and English. Food items on the buffet was maybe one third Japanese type cuisine and two thirds American/Westerner food options. Same for the dinner menu in the dining room.

 

 

Lines – The Japanese love getting in line. Everyone is very orderly, which is great, but just know going into the cruise to expect lines around the ship – going into the theater, lining up for a sale in the atrium, lining up for the dining room, lining up for karaoke, etc.  And this isn’t just a simple short line…the line for the dining room at breakfast and lunch would sometimes wind up several flights of stairs! And the karaoke line was out the door! Know that the line will move, but if you want to go to a show or have breakfast in the dining room that your timing is everything – get there early and don’t be surprised if there is a significant line that has already formed 45 minutes early.

 

 

Place there were no line or crowds - We found that very few people were ever out on the Lido deck, most passengers stayed inside all of the time, which made everything feel a little more crowded inside.  The pools and hot tubs were pretty much empty.  If you’re looking to book a spa appointment, no problem, it seems like the Japanese passengers aren’t really into that, so they had tons of openings. If you’re looking for a drink, also no problem, the bar staff was always just standing around and was excited when we would order drinks. We rarely saw Japanese passengers drinking alcohol. We also never saw a line for pizza or at the grill for burgers in our 13 days on board. The casino staff is also just standing around most of the time. With the strict gambling regulations in Japan, the casino was rarely open and when it was open, few people were there.

 

 

Immigration –  Once the ship stops in another country, then everyone has to go through immigration next time the ship stopped at a Japanese port.  They come on board and have immigration in one of the lounges.  The line was long and immigration took a long time each time we had to do this on our cruise.  Even if you’re booked on an excursion, you might get to bypass some of the line, but for the most part plan on 30-60 minutes of standing in an immigration line.

 

 

 

Our ports -

 

Kobe – embarkation (we took a train from Oksaka airport to our hotel in Kobe)

 

Busan, South Korea – we took a princess excursion to a temple and then fish market, which was a good tour

 

Yokkaichi – we took a princess excursion to a ninja museum and castle, it was ok excursion, had I been a 10 year old boy, the ninja stuff might have been more exciting

 

Yokohama (for Tokyo) – our ship docked at Yokohama at the end of the first 5 days and then again at the end of the next 8 days. Luckily both times, the ship had just docked the previous day in a Japanese port, so we didn’t have to go through the full immigration procedures in Yokohama.  However, all of our documents ahead of time and onboard said that we’re docking at 6am, which was true…however the port workers and small immigration team that work in the building that you have to walk through to exit the ship don’t start work until 7am, so the earliest that anyone can get off the ship in Yokohama is about 7:15am. (This would have been great to know for us ahead of time because both times we docked in Yokohama we were going into Tokyo independently by subway and train and had our day planned out for sightseeing based on being able to leave the ship at 6:15am, which turns out is impossible to do.)  Once we got off the ship in Yokohama, We independently took the subway/train to Tokyo.  We wouldn’t recommend doing this on your own unless you have a cell phone with an unlimited data plan and you are very proficient using google maps, which we had and are good at. You will need to rely on their google maps to navigate the subway, trains, and walking to your sightseeing destinations to be efficient with your time there to see the most you can with your little time in port.

 

Keelung (Taipei), Taiwan – we took the all day princess excursion of Taipei – excellent tour! Our friends independently went into Taipei taking the train in Keelung and then rode the hop on hop off bus for the day.  We saw way more than our friends did and having a guide who  explained things was worth the price for us with the princess excursion.

 

Ishigaki – we took a princess excursion here. The glass bottom boat ride that was part of the tour was the best glass bottom boat ride that we’ve ever had anywhere in the world! Our friends booked an independent tour at this port, which turned out tricky to get to because the immigration on the ship was taking so long and then they needed to catch a bus into the city to be able to catch their excursion, which they did end up catching their tour however it was all in Japanese.  Sometimes it is worth paying a little more for a princess tour.

 

Okinawa – we took the princess battle of Okinawa excursions, which we enjoyed

 

 

 

Let me know if you have any questions. I’m happy to help having just been on the Diamond Princess.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Thanks to the OP for this review!!!    We are taking an 8 day cruise on the Diamond this time next year (during the Olympics).    The review gives something for us to think about as we plan our trip.   I think our family will definitely stand out so, learning some customs and phrases would be a good idea.   It will be interesting to see if our teenage kids will participate in the teens club.   Great review!  

Edited by PurpleRose23
grammar corrections

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Thanks so much for this. I am hoping to cruise Japan next year. I am celebrating a decade changing birthday in August 2020 and want to go to Kyoto but none of the cruises go there at the right time. Sigh! I am trying to persuade my self not to let that put me off and your review has helped

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9 hours ago, Cathygh said:

Thanks so much for this. I am hoping to cruise Japan next year. I am celebrating a decade changing birthday in August 2020 and want to go to Kyoto but none of the cruises go there at the right time. Sigh! I am trying to persuade my self not to let that put me off and your review has helped

 

A few quick thoughts, in no particular order.

 

In October , 2019, we did a week land tour, on our own, followed by an 8 day Fall Foliage, cruise (Yokohama RT), all Japanese ports except Busan, South Korea.

 

We flew to Tokyo, spent a few days there, then took the bullet train (green car, ie first class, not that much more in cost) to Kyoto, spent a few days there, then returned to Tōkyō for a night and caught the Diamond cruise.  If you can squeeze in Kyoto, either at the beginning or end of your trip, suggest you do so, but spend 2-3 days there. Can fly from Osaka to/from the US, and Osaka is near Kyoto, as is Nara, worth a half day, the deer really do bow to visitors for food.

 

Re the cruise, in general, we had a great time - 

 

The foliage had not changed to the spectacular colors we were hoping to see, a minor disappointment.

 

Did not like the green tea ice cream,  tasted it, then put in down and replaced with chocolate,  just a personal choice.

 

Was hoping that the majority of the cruisers would be Japanese, for the cultural aspect,  but the majority were English speaking.  Thought we would see many kimonos on formal night, didn’t, except for the Japanese CD. First time cruisers were a majority of the cruisers - laundry came back quickly.

 

Agree about the immigration line.  Don’t remember other issues with lines.  Did not notice any issues between  passengers and staff.  Japanese style toilets are a plus, if ur cabin has one.  Thought two cruise directors was a plus.  The trivias were either all Japanese or all English, as I recall.

 

At Horizon Court, we could roll our own sushi, which was fun.  No one will mistake me for a Sushi Chef.  In general, the food was similar to that on other cruises and was fine.

 

 

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Just some tips about visiting Japan. I have been on 2 land trips solo there and loved it!

I highly recommend spending several days before or after your cruise in Kyoto!

The Japanese are very orderly and organized. It was a pleasure to deal with trains where the place to line up for your specific car is on a sign above your head. No pushing or shoving ever!

As for language, many Japanese do know English. They are often shy about using it with westerners because they want to be absolutely correct in how they speak!! I have found that saying a few words in my bad Japanese would break the ice so that they were then much more comfortable using their English!

Japanese is easy to pronounce especially if you know Spanish as the vowels are said in the same way.  For the teens going (and anyone else interested the 2 sentences I learn everywhere I go are:

I don't speak.......Japanese(or other language) Do you speak English.

Nihongo ga wakarimasen   (Nee hong go gah   Wah karee mah sen)

Eigo o hanashimaskan  (Ay go oh       ha nah shee mas kah

Have a great cruise!! Japan is wonderful~~

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Yes, the past few years and this past winter Diamond Princess provided hot

water kettles.  We prepurchase cases

of bottled water delivered to our stateroom and bring Starbucks coffee, filters and strainer to make our own coffee in the morning.  

And, we bring a gift for our room steward

from home.  They work hard and a little gift goes a long way...remember they are on the ship about 8 months on average. 

C U onboard.🌺

Leilani

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1 hour ago, Aloha Cruisers said:

Yes, the past few years and this past winter Diamond Princess provided hot

water kettles.  

 

Thank you for that information, we'll bring our favourite coffee from home.

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On ‎9‎/‎7‎/‎2019 at 7:45 PM, DBSDSS said:

 

A few quick thoughts, in no particular order.

 

In October , 2019, we did a week land tour, on our own, followed by an 8 day Fall Foliage, cruise (Yokohama RT), all Japanese ports except Busan, South Korea.

 

We flew to Tokyo, spent a few days there, then took the bullet train (green car, ie first class, not that much more in cost) to Kyoto, spent a few days there, then returned to Tōkyō for a night and caught the Diamond cruise.  If you can squeeze in Kyoto, either at the beginning or end of your trip, suggest you do so, but spend 2-3 days there. Can fly from Osaka to/from the US, and Osaka is near Kyoto, as is Nara, worth a half day, the deer really do bow to visitors for food.

 

Re the cruise, in general, we had a great time - 

 

The foliage had not changed to the spectacular colors we were hoping to see, a minor disappointment.

 

Did not like the green tea ice cream,  tasted it, then put in down and replaced with chocolate,  just a personal choice.

 

Was hoping that the majority of the cruisers would be Japanese, for the cultural aspect,  but the majority were English speaking.  Thought we would see many kimonos on formal night, didn’t, except for the Japanese CD. First time cruisers were a majority of the cruisers - laundry came back quickly.

 

Agree about the immigration line.  Don’t remember other issues with lines.  Did not notice any issues between  passengers and staff.  Japanese style toilets are a plus, if ur cabin has one.  Thought two cruise directors was a plus.  The trivias were either all Japanese or all English, as I recall.

 

At Horizon Court, we could roll our own sushi, which was fun.  No one will mistake me for a Sushi Chef.  In general, the food was similar to that on other cruises and was fine.

 

 

Hi

Thank you! I soooo want to go to Kyoto. I am in the UK and TAs have been telling me there are no direct flights to Osaka. However that is a few weeks ago and so I am hoping flights might now have been scheduled. One TA did say to check in September/October. The TAs seem to be struggling with getting a package to include Kyoto as generally most people ask for Tokyo. I have looked at land tours but most of them are too long and go to places the cruises also go to and I really would like to have some time on a ship, to do a bit of relaxation. I am tied by dates around my birthday and work stuff which means I need to be back and over jet lag by early September

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2 hours ago, Cathygh said:

Hi

Thank you! I soooo want to go to Kyoto. I am in the UK and TAs have been telling me there are no direct flights to Osaka. However that is a few weeks ago and so I am hoping flights might now have been scheduled. One TA did say to check in September/October. The TAs seem to be struggling with getting a package to include Kyoto as generally most people ask for Tokyo. I have looked at land tours but most of them are too long and go to places the cruises also go to and I really would like to have some time on a ship, to do a bit of relaxation. I am tied by dates around my birthday and work stuff which means I need to be back and over jet lag by early September

 

Hi - 

 

A few additional suggestions, let’s start with the easiest one first- 

 

Make sure ur cruise stops in Osaka.  The cruise offers tours that will take you to Kyoto, or to Kyoto and Nara, for the day.  You won’t see everything that Kyoto has to offer, but at least u will see some of this special city.  If you haven’t been to Tokyo yet, you want to fly to Tokyo a few days early, so you can tour Tōkyō.

 

Second option - even if there aren’t any direct flights to Osaka from the UK, take a flight to Tokyo, then transfer to a flight to Osaka.  Then you would have to make ur way to Kyoto, then eventually back to Tokyo/Yokohama (port city near Tokyo).

 

if u can free up a few days before the tour - fly to Tokyo first. Spend a day or two in Tokyo.  Leave your heavy bags at the Tokyo hotel. Take the bullet train to Kyoto with an overnight bag.  Stay in a hotel at the train station, easier this way.  Spend a day or two in Kyoto, then back to Tokyo for a night and to pick up your heavy bags and to transfer to Yokohama for your cruise.

 

Whatever u do, u will have a great time.

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Hi DBSDSS

Thanks so much for your advice. Sadly Osaka is not included on the dates I want to do. I have now found flights to Osaka but not direct ones so I think Tokyo - Kyoto - Tokyo -cruise might work. Or may be I'll go somewhere else and leave Japan for another time.

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On 9/9/2019 at 9:46 AM, Cathygh said:

Hi

Thank you! I soooo want to go to Kyoto. I am in the UK and TAs have been telling me there are no direct flights to Osaka. However that is a few weeks ago and so I am hoping flights might now have been scheduled. One TA did say to check in September/October. The TAs seem to be struggling with getting a package to include Kyoto as generally most people ask for Tokyo. I have looked at land tours but most of them are too long and go to places the cruises also go to and I really would like to have some time on a ship, to do a bit of relaxation. I am tied by dates around my birthday and work stuff which means I need to be back and over jet lag by early September

BA has a direct flight to Osaka. My son works for cabin crew for BA and told me about it. It was also shown on a very recent programme about BA.

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On 9/9/2019 at 8:06 AM, Cathygh said:

Hi DBSDSS

Thanks so much for your advice. Sadly Osaka is not included on the dates I want to do. I have now found flights to Osaka but not direct ones so I think Tokyo - Kyoto - Tokyo -cruise might work. Or may be I'll go somewhere else and leave Japan for another time.

I wonder if you looked into information on the InsideJapantours web site?

They have small group tours but they will also plan a tailored trip for you to your budget and interests. You could combine that with a cruise. They are originally a UK company .

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Thank you all for the info. I am interested in doing Japan in the spring. Hoping the weather will be ok - not ice snow like here in Canada - haha

I was told the streets of the big cities are so busy that people tend to put their hands up and sort of push you along??

I cannot stand anyone I do not know touching me - is that the case? I had that problem in an airport line in Singapore travelling up to China. Had to ask people behind me to take their hands off me..

 

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Thanks for the great review.  We are looking forward to our upcoming 17 d Japan cruise on Nov 12/19.  We are arriving in Tokyo and will spend a few days there before heading to the ship.

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19 hours ago, nanwel said:

Thank you all for the info. I am interested in doing Japan in the spring. Hoping the weather will be ok - not ice snow like here in Canada - haha

I was told the streets of the big cities are so busy that people tend to put their hands up and sort of push you along??

I cannot stand anyone I do not know touching me - is that the case? I had that problem in an airport line in Singapore travelling up to China. Had to ask people behind me to take their hands off me..

 

NO one "pushes you along" on streets! I have no idea where you read this but it is completely INaccurate!! I cannot imagine a Japanese person touching someone like that!!!

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thank you - it came from a person that was over there as a student teacher 15 years ago. Not sure what city he said, but glad it is not true there - I really do not like people touching me that do not know.

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I have found the people from Japan to be the most respectful and polite of all our worldly travels.  For example in Nagasaki I asked for directions to a bank and the lady walked me several blocks to the bank making sure I realized it was on the second floor.  In Yokohama once a shop owner closed his shop to show me how to get to an art gallery and again in Osaka when I asked train transfer information a young college student showed us.  They are sooo very helpful.  I saw something interesting at the Kyoto train station -

signs for “Women Only” cars.  I had to take a photo of that!  I often take small gifts from home to give the local people in places we visit who we appreciate.  We are very much looking forward to this cruise.  

Leilani🌸

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