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January 09, 2005

DIAMOND PRINCESS - Review

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DIAMOND PRINCESS
Sister Ship(s): Sapphire Princess

Destination: Mexican Riviera
Length: 7 Nights

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Dining:
I like the choice of dining onboard the Diamond Princess. Here they offer something for both experienced and new cruisers. Traditional Dining can be found in the International Dining Room on Deck 6. The International Dining Room offers two set times for dinner each evening of the cruise: 6:15pm and 8:30pm, where you sit at the same table, with the same people and the same wait staff every night of the cruise.

Personal Choice Dining is an open style offered in four smaller restaurants, each with their own theme. In each of these four restaurants you can find the International Dining Room menu, as well as that restaurants theme dining room menu. The four theme dining rooms are: Pacific Moon (Asian-Fusion), Sterling (steakhouse), Vivaldi (Italian), and Santa Fe (Mexican).

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Sabatini’s Trattoria is a specialty restaurant onboard offering Italian cuisine. The Princess Patter describes Sabatini’s as “On Promenade Deck 7, Sabatini’s emerges as a classic trattoria, named after venerable prototype Trattoria Sabatini, a 200-year old institution in Florence, Diamond’s Sabatini’s offers a sensational menu. This unique treat includes a full array of appetizers., a delicious selection of pastas with a variety of sauces, Italian-style entrees from tiger prawns over langoustine to lobster tail and, of course, the same wonderful desserts that Princes passengers have learned to love.”

Sabatini’s is open for lunch (on sea days only) from 11:30am to 2:00pm and every night for dinner from 6:00pm to 11:00pm. The cost is $20 US per person. I found the décor and experience good, however the selection of food was limited. The majority of the menu was seafood and only two main dishes offered that were different (chicken & veal).

Room Service is 24 hours. The room service menu was limited, but I likes that hot food could be ordered in the middle of the night, as the buffet at the Horizon Court is limited at that particular time of day.

The Horizon Court is the buffet on Deck 14. Here they offered a wide selection of food for breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks and dinner. In the middle of the night I found the selection to be poor; with only cold sandwiches available.

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Bars & Entertainment:
There were two shows offered nightly in the main show lounge. Entertainment throughout the week included “Piano Man” and “Undercover” (Las Vegas-style shows) by the Princess Singers and Dancers, comedians, and specialty dancers. Other gameshow-style entertainment was offered by the Cruise Staff which included “The Weakest One”, “Passenger Feud”, “The Princess Price Is”, “Princess Jeopardy”, “Princess Payramids”, Karaoke, and “Princess Idol”. Plus, on a few certain nights that were theme-parties offered: 50s & 60s Sock Hop, Country Barn Party, On Deck Pool Party, and Line Dance Mania.

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Internet Café:
The Internet Café was open 24-hours, however if I visited during the middle of the night I found there was no internet connection. The service was fairly slow, but the pricing was good at only $0.35 per minute. Unfortunately, they had no packages available for purchase.

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Sports & Fitness:
The Fitness Center on board is located on Deck 15 forward. I found there was a limited selection of machines to choose from and no area to stretch. There was an aerobics area with one wall of floor-to-ceiling mirrors and one wall of glass to look outside. The following classes were offered: Pure & Simple Stretch, Aerobics, CircuitXpress, Total Body Conditioning, Walk A Mile, Pathway to Yoga*, SpinXpress*, and Pilates*. *These classes have a fee of $10 US per person.

One nice thing I liked about the cardio machines was that each had its own TV with remote. Headphones to listen to the TV could be rented from the spa front desk.

There is a Basketball/Volleyball court, Princess Links mini-golf course, and forward on Deck 16 and 18.

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The Lotus Spa and Salon on Deck 15 is open from 8:00am to 10:00pm daily. I recommend taking the spa tour the first afternoon of the cruise (embarkation day) because you are shown the entire spa area and shown many of the treatments. If you are looking for a really good deal at the spa I recommend waiting for the first port day. The ship offers a few packages for guests that book an appointment while the ship is in port. This may mean taking an hour away from shore, but it’s worth it! One thing I liked about this spa is they don’t try to sell you anything during or after your treatment.

Some specials offered during the cruise included:
Spa Taster – 25 minute massage & 25 minutes rehydrating booster facial for $79
Ionithermie – Algae Detox – 55 minutes for $105
Oxygen Lifting Facial – 55 minutes for $89
Muscle Detox Therapy – 80 minutes for $140
Mix & Match Packge – Choose any 3 of the following for $79 or choose any 4 of the following for $99
-Re-Polish (hands & feet), Foot & Ankle Massage, Mini Facial, Scalp Massage (with warm Tahitian Monoi Oil), Conditioning Hair Treatment, Comb Out

Or if you just want some relaxation time, but don’t want to spend a fortune I’d recommend the Thermal Sanctuary Suite. You can by a day pass for $10 or a weekly pass for $70 US per person or $109 per couple. This special room offers heated mosaic lounge chairs, a tropical shower, Aromatic room, mild steam room, sauna, and a mint/fog shower!

Princess Patter:
I found the daily program guide, the Princess Patter, difficult to read. There was no area on it where it showed what restaurants are open and for what times. Plus, it seemed to me like a big advertisement of what to buy, where and when.

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Princess Kid’s:
The two main programs and areas for kids included The Fun Zone and Off Limits. Fun Zone was open from 7:00am to 10:00pm daily and Off Limits was open from 7:00pm to 1:00am daily. Plus, from 8:00pm to 5:00pm and 10:00pm to 1:00am kid-sitting was available, but advanced booking is required.

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Pools & Hot Tubs:
The pool area wasn’t really large, but I liked the layout of the pool deck. They built the ship with tiered decks on one side of the pool, that way sun and deck chairs can be found almost everywhere. Shade was hard to find.

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Stateroom:
We were in Oceanview Stateroom #P217 (Category EE) on the starboard side of the ship. When you walk into the stateroom there is a narrow hallway with open closet area two the right, the bathroom and a full-length mirror on the front of a wardrobe. I liked that there were many hangers in the open-closet area for us to hang our clothes on. The rest of the room had two twin beds (that could be pushed together to make a queen), two small bed-side tables with three drawers, a desk with a large mirror, more drawers, a fridge, and telephone. The window was a very large size and easy to see out of. The TV was in a strange place above the desk in the corner of the room on the same side as the beds, so viewing TV in bed was difficult.

Our stateroom attendant was in the hallway most mornings and evenings when we left the room. Every time we came back from some activities the room it was made up and each night there was chocolate on our pillow.

Boarding & Transfer Tip:
I purchased the transfers with Princess Cruises and was a little shocked to find no representative at the baggage claim area of the airport when I arrived. There were many people on my flight going on the cruise so I immediately walked up to the Information Desk to contact the representative. We had arrived into the Tom Bradley International Arrival section of the airport and were informed that we needed to walk to another terminal in the airport to meet the Princess motorcoach for the transfer. There was about 25 of us and we walked from Tom Bradley to Terminal 4 with all our luggage and then waited for the motorcoach to arrive. The entire time I was walking from one terminal to the other I was thinking how could an older person do this? I am a young, able-bodied person and my arm was a bit sore from my heavy bag so I was ok. But an older person with any luggage could and would have difficulties doing this. I felt the transfer was unorganized and that the motorcoach could and should of picked us up at the Tom Bradley Terminal.

The majority of time onboard Diamond Princess I did not feel as thought I was with 2,800 other passengers. However, during the boarding process I could tell I was getting on a large ship. It took approximately 30 minutes to board and the most inconvient was waiting in line to have everyone’s photo taken.

Announcements:
Announcements on board were made in English. I was surprised that there were usually three announcements made per day on the cruise talking about what to do onboard. As other Premium Cruise Lines do not have any announcements.

Ports of Call:
On this particular cruise we stopped in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. In Puerto Vallarta I enjoyed touring from the ship to the LaHoya area. It is located in the mountains and offers stunning views of the ocean. In Mazatlan I highly recommend shopping. Here were the best deals/prices and it was easiest to barter. There are a few great markets in the Golden Zone, plus many nice hotels and restaurants. In Cabo San Lucas I recommend spending your time in the water or on the beach. Here you’ll find quiet beautiful beaches just 15 minutes from the tender pier. Just make sure you negotiate the taxi price roundtrip and pay half at the beginning and half when they pick you up…you don’t want to be stuck at the beach because there are very few people at certain beaches there.

Written By Denise Blackmore, ACC

View Diamond Princess Mexican Riviera Cruises
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Posted by Denise at January 9, 2005 10:25 AM
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