First off, I'm not a professional writer or reviewer so you will have to bare with me while I try to write this out. If I jump around, misspell, whatever, know written English is not my strong suit.
OK, let me start out and just say that the Diamond Princess is one big beautiful ship. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. This was our first cruise ever and I'm glad we took it on her. There was always something fun to do and the food was great. We had PC dining which is OK, but next time we will do traditional. There were only the two of us and we found that if we didn't have a reservation we could not get into the restaurant by just showing up. We were turned away each and every time we just showed up. Also they only let you book up to two days in advance. We found all four dining room's food great to very good and service was excellent to average. Someone mentioned guacamole being made table-side in the Santa Fe room. Well, that was not the case on our cruise. Guacamole was pre-made and served in a bowl. It was on the spicy side and was refilled often, too often so don't finish it off unless you want more. We did not bother with the extra cost dining room.
The buffet is limited and not that exciting. The food is decent to OK. For breakfast, No where on the buffet line is there an eggs cooked to order station. I felt breakfast at the buffet in general was lack luster as was it's lunch.
Lunch in the international room on the other hand was wonderful. Great tasting food, good choice and great service. Tea was another wonderful treat. Tea was served daily in the Pacific room from 3:30-4:30pm. The free ice cream they serve for an hour is OK, nothing to get excited about or go out of your way to get. The sorbet on the other hand served at dinner for desert in the dining rooms is excellent. A must try.
We are from Chicago and we found the pizza from the pizza station to be very good most days. The grill station is also pretty good. Room service has a very limited menu, but the food is good.
As far as shows and that, we didn't do them. Between excursions and lots of walking around in ports then back on ship eating like pigs, we were just too tired to do anything else. However, at sea days we did manage to do a couple game shows, which were fun. Played bingo one day. Took the ballroom dance lessons which was loads of fun, but too crowded most of the time. Astrid was such a wonderful teacher that the hour would just fly by making you wish for more time. The bars were all very nice. Drinks were good to OK. Didn't gamble so can't comment on the casino. The stores were OK.
Didn't do a lot of shopping. The port shopping talks on the ship were a huge waste of time in my opinion. The freebies for the jewelry stores were a joke. After Juneau we didn't waste any more time in stores.
The pools on the ship were nice as were the hot tubs.
The champagne tier party was nice, but nothing that spectacular. The ports themselves were fine to OK. It didn't take long to figure out the areas we pulled into were nothing but big tourist traps which was very disappointing. The excursions were your only way out and they too didn't last nearly long enough to warrant cost and tips are expected. I again feel the words tourist trap coming up. The ship itself also tries to ream your pockets. Everything costs and it costs a lot. Pictures are $19.95 US dollars a pop and there was no package deals. At dinner they push drinks or wine for you to purchase and they even were pushing wine tastings for you to take on a certain day for $25 US dollars per person which was rather annoying to be bugged with at dinner time. Those coke mugs you can buy pretty much anytime and are not worth it unless you like your coke from a fountain. We found we could buy a twelve pack at any port. For instance we bought a 12 pack of coke for $6.50 right smack off the ship in Juneau. Prices in ports will vary though so be aware. Room service will charge you $7.50 for a six pack. Any free drinks on the ship was very limited and rather stingy. Again, it didn't take long to figure out that the ship is out to make the most buck on you they can. Most of the staff on the ship were fairly friendly, more were gratuitous than genuine if you ask me and some were downright rude. Our maid Maria was a sweet little lady from Mexico who was wonderful. We never had to ask her for a thing.
Our room was always clean to perfection with plenty of ice, clean glasses and toiletries.
The beds/bed was firm and comfortable for us. It split only a couple of times which was no big deal. Embarkation was fairly easy and not too long of a wait.
Disembarkation was a little more nerve wracking. It didn't take too terribly long, but once off the ship your luggage is mixed with everyone else's in a big pen and it takes a while to find. Then you have to drag it to the buses that transfer you to the airport. Next time we will carry it off ourselves. To sum it all up, would I say this was our best vacation ever? No. Was it worth the price? Yes and No. Would we do it again? Yes.
Will we remain loyal customers to Princess and never cruise with anyone else? A big No, there are other lines we most definitely would like to give a try. Would we recommend Princess? Yes.
What is the best advice I can give? My advice is to forget most of what you read or hear from other people regarding any cruise, especially when it comes to personal feelings/opinions. What was great for someone may not be great for you. 'what was horrible for them maybe fine for you. About the only helpful advice I remember taking that actually worked was going with a good attitude. We found all our shipmates to be pleasant and friendly. The horror stories of shipmates being rude and nasty, pushing and jumping in line and bratty kids, we just did not see. Maybe we were lucky? We did take into account that many people are from other countries with different customs than we, so remembering what we may perceive as being rude in America may be totally acceptable in their country. So, that's it for my review, hope you were able to get something out of it.