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cnmiranda December 22nd, 2004 10:53 AM

Diamond Princess 12-11 mini review & shore excursions Me
Hello travelers, just completed our 2nd Diamond cruise. Frist time was Alaska, this time did the Mexican Riviera and had a wonderful time.

Ship: Excellent. Had a minisuite, deck 9, Dolphin. Our cabin steward Manuel was wonderful. All common areas were very clean and the ship is very well laid out. My favorite single spot on the ship is the Wheelhouse lounge, with the dark wood and fine leather sofas. Very cozy and relaxing.

Entertainment: We enjoyed all the comedians and attended a "meet the captain" talk. Hearing the captain's experiences were great. He told us a lot about the ship, his work schedule, and answered questions from the audience. Very personable chap from England. Didn't attend any production shows, though I heard they were enjoyable, especially "Piano Man".

Dining: Did personal choice. The reservarion schedule seems to keep changing, but here is the status as of last week. Upon embarkation you are allowed to make reservations for the first two nights only. After the 2nd day you are allowed to make reservations for the rest of the week. We enjoyed the Santa Fe (mexican flare) and Vivaldi (Italian) the most. We did make a ressie for Sterling but later changed out mind because hubby loved the menu at Vivaldi and decided to go back. If you do want to dine at Sterling, do reserve asap, when we tried to rebook for later in the week no spots were availible. You are still allowed to walk in, however.

Cruisin' crowd: There had been a small amount of children, and were very well behaved. Average cruiser seemed to be in their 50's-60's with some in their 30's and 40's (me & hubby).

Ports and Excursions:
Puerto Vallarta: Did the "Puerto Vallarta off the beaten track" tour. We drove along the coast and visited Elizabeth Taylor's and Richard Burton's former home. Very nice, kept the same way with all the original furnishings of the former owners. Our tour guide cracked me up - he laughed like Speedy Gonzalez :) It was so cute, we laughed the whole time.
Mazatlan: Wow! What a lovely city! I had no idea how nice it would be. We enyoyed the "Walking tour of Mazatlan". The streets are impeccably clean, with all the beautiful vibrant colors of pink, orange, red, and purple. We visited a few historic homes, as well as stopped for a drink or two along the way. Then it was off to see the opulent Opera house. Highly recommended. The tour lasted about 3 1/2 hours and well worth the experience.
Cabo San Lucas: Did the deluxe coasta cruise. Again, we were wowwed. We drove along the coast and saw the beautiful scenery of beachside resorts and the millionaire homes. We went to the beautiful Hideaway Cove? (can't rem name) and lover's beach where we saw harbor seals basking in the sun. But by far the greatest part of the excursion was the whale watching. We saw a humpback male with it's pup playing in the water for a good 45 minutes. This is the best whalewatching I had ever seen, including Hawaii, Provincetown, and Alaska. The mother did full jumps out of the water the whole time, even the boat's captain said this was some of the best activity he'd ever seen. Words can't express the beauty of what we experienced. That day alone made the trip worthwhile.

In all, each port was awesome, the people were friendly, and there are ample touristy stores to purchase gifts.

Weather: It was a little cool the first sea day as well as the last. The route was a little bumpy returning home due to high winds and 4-7.5 foot swells. Do bring a jacket or sweater for those days. Otherwise, the weather was perfect at about 80-85 degrees each day.

This was definitely one of our favorite cruises and we are already dreaming about returning.

Any questions, please don't hesitate to ask! Happy sailings: )

BMK December 22nd, 2004 05:16 PM

Re: Diamond Princess 12-11 mini review & shore excursion
Hi thanks for the great review. We sail the Diamond in August to Alaska and can't wait. We have a mini suite because we need the extra space, two kids coming along. I am concerned about the uncovered balcony. We would like to enjoy the great scenery from it but are worried that with no protection it will always be to windy to sit out there. any thoughts would be appreciated.


cnmiranda December 22nd, 2004 05:25 PM

Re: Diamond Princess 12-11 mini review & shore excursion
Hi Brigitte,

We used the balcony a lot when we did Alaska. It can get windy, but if you sit a little further back towards the door you won't feel it as much. I just bundled up with a hat, gloves, and a blanket and was fine. The dolphin deck is around mid ship height wise, so it was great to watch the icebergs along Tracy Arm. Wonderful viewing from your own balcony. Just thinking about it makes me want to return, the Alaska cruise was definitely our favorite out of the others we've done. Lucky you :-)

BMK December 23rd, 2004 07:39 AM

Re: Diamond Princess 12-11 mini review & shore excursion
Thanks for the info, I do not mind bundling up and sitting outside. We are so excited about this trip. Do you have any suggestions on shore excursions?

cnmiranda December 23rd, 2004 10:27 AM

Re: Diamond Princess 12-11 mini review & shore excursion
Yes, we did the wildlife excursions in each port. Skagway was definitely the most beautiful, we did the "Alaska Nature and Wildlife Expedition" . We took a short catamaran ride to Haines, where there was some nice whale watching along the way, followed by a stop to take some beautiful photos of the ocean and mountains (the best scenery, so beautiful words can't describe) and then we were off to spot eagles, other birds and the like. I just reread the excursion info, if you take this tour in August you will likely get to see bears searching for spawning salmon. I should mention that a lot of people did the scenic railway tour and raved about it, but we didn't have time to fit it in our schedule.

In Juneau we did the whale watching tour - good, but because the whales were just starting to arrive it wasn't as good as I'm sure it was later that summer. Also we did the "Rain Forest Garden Adventure" - we live in Las Vegas so we wanted to take advantage of any chance to spot lots of trees and greenery.

In Ketchikan we did the "Coastal Rain Forest Sanctuary" where we went into the woods and saw spots where bears hybernate (sp) and were fortunate enough to see a momma bear with her two cubs, again, you are especially lucky because of the time you're visiting in Alaska, the bears will be more active, as well it will be prime salmon season.

But in general, we were happiest with exploring the nature, after all, some of the best undisturbed wildlife in the world is there in Alaska. You are so fortunate to be going this summer!

azpaula December 23rd, 2004 09:17 PM

Re: Diamond Princess 12-11 mini review & shore excursion
Just wondering if you were seated at a table with others in the dining room.

cnmiranda December 23rd, 2004 11:40 PM

Re: Diamond Princess 12-11 mini review & shore excursion
No, we made reservations for seating for 2 but you could be placed at a larger table with companions if you like. The tables for 2 are sometimes very close to each other, so you may end up conversing a lot with those next to you anyways :-)

seababe January 3rd, 2005 05:59 PM

Re: Diamond Princess 12-11 mini review & shore excursion
liked your review we too are repeaters on the Diamond sailed in April we leave Jan.22 is Billy B.still the crusie director and Captain Warner still on board ?
Happy sailing

cnmiranda January 4th, 2005 12:43 AM

Re: Diamond Princess 12-11 mini review & shore excursion
Trevor Bradford was our cruise director (I think he arrived the week of our sailing) and Bernard Warner was still the Captain.

You are so lucky to be leaving soon! Have a great trip :-)

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