Our family went on a cruise around Japan and Korea last month, and it was so amazing that I had to make an entry about it right away. I’ll be posting detailed entries about each day we spent there, but this is just a quick summary of our experience on the ship. I did something similar for when we went on the Golden Princess last year (read blog entry HERE). We had such a magical time back then that my parents immediately booked another cruise with them again last October. Unfortunately, Ezra and I couldn’t come with them because of classes, so they booked another one this May for the entire family. Both the Golden Princess and Diamond Princess are owned by Princess Cruises, so there were a lot of similarities between the two.
Our cruise started in Yokohama, at the Osanbashi Pier
Ezra and I were so excited to be going on another Princess Cruise. This year, Princess is celebrating its 50th anniversary, yay!
Since we already had our luggage tags prepared, we just headed over to the luggage drop off counter and left our bags there. After this we sat down and waited for the ship to start boarding.
Bags at the pier waiting to be delivered to the guests’ rooms
Ezra and I were assigned to stateroom C724, which was the room my parents had when we went on our Alaskan Cruise – though that was a different ship of course. But still, we thought it was a funny coincidence.
Our room looked pretty much identical to the one we had last year.
Since this was our second cruise with them, Princess upgraded us to gold card status 🙂
(The blue card at the bottom is from last year’s cruise)
We also found this “Welcome Back” card in our room
Aren’t they sweet? Since we are now repeat passengers, we were invited to the Captain’s Circle Membership Event
It’s a simple event with cocktails and a raffle draw. The ship’s captain thanked everyone for choosing Princess Cruises again. They also gave recognition to people on board that have spent the most days with them. The winning couple spent over 1000 days at sea already! I can’t imagine how they did that. That’s over 3 years of cruising! So far Ezra and I have a total of 15 days with Princess. We’ve got a looooong way to go.
This year, my parents got a room with a balcony, so we hung out there a few times during our stay
This trip was meant to celebrate my parent’s 31st wedding anniversary, as well as Ezra’s birthday. When you book your cruise, they ask you if there are any special events they should be aware of, so they can prepare a special gift for you. You can specify the date you want that event celebrated, in case you are celebrating late or early. In our case, my parents chose to celebrate their anniversary 4 days late, and Ezra celebrated her birthday exactly 1 month later.
The wonderful crew at the Sta. Fe dining hall presented my parents with a cake on their “anniversary”
And gave them this card
Ezra also received a card in our room on the morning of her “birthday”
As well as a cake and birthday song during dinner (again from the Sta. Fe crew)
(Ezra and I decided to wear matching dresses for her “birthday”)
Our cruise consisted of 4 shore excursions and 2 sea days. We maximized our sea days (as well as our nights on the ship) by participating in various events and watching shows at the Atrium or Princess Theater.
On our first sea day, the ship organized a $1000 treasure hunt. To participate, you had to go to different areas of the ship and have your card stamped before dropping it off at the Atrium for a chance to win.
We completed our cards in time. Unfortunately we went back to our rooms to nap after this and missed the raffle draw. The rules state that you have to be present to win, so no prizes for us 😦 But we had a lot of fun exploring the ship and collecting stamps, so we were happy. The game took us to see parts of the ship that we probably wouldn’t have visited otherwise. Like the very back of the ship:
We would have no reason to drop by the area if it wasn’t for the game
The net is there to keep the ball from accidentally falling into the water I suppose 😀
The game also took us to the Izumi Bath house:
It’s one of those traditional Japanese bath houses. Unfortunately we weren’t brave enough to try it
Here’s a picture of the Atrium, where we dropped our cards off after getting them stamped. It looks pretty much identical to the Atrium/Piazza of the Golden Princess.
During our cruise, we made sure to keep an eye on the Princess Patter (the daily newsletter) to make sure that we wouldn’t miss any interesting shows or events:
(Though we only caught the last few minutes of his act because we were too busy stuffing ourselves with cheesecake at the Horizon Court)
Free sake for everyone! Yay!
We made sure to catch the geisha performance at the Princess Theater on our 2nd day there:
Japanese kimonos are always so beautiful. Which is why we jumped at the chance to try one on when the ship held a kimono session one afternoon:
We were lucky that we were able to grab a kimono since there were only 13 of them available. My mom, Ezra and I just took turns wearing the same one. Putting it on took a bit of work, but luckily there were some Japanese guests on board who were more than willing to help out
My mom with the lovely lady who hosted the session
My dad was able to try on a men’s kimono too, since we were one of the first ones there.
This one is for napkin folding. They also had one for towel folding and flower arrangements.
One event that my parents looked forward to was the champagne waterfall during the formal evening:
The event that Ezra and I enjoyed the most was the balloon party drop which was held on our 4th day on the ship
The ship prepared hundreds of golden balloons (for their 50th anniversary – my parents said that last year the balloons were multi-colored) and placed them above the Atrium
The event was open to everyone, but there was limited space on the dance floor (it was very small, just enough to fit about 50 people), so most of the guests opted to watch from the stairs or the 6th and 7th floor. We were very lucky to have secured a spot right at the dance floor’s entrance as soon as we exited the dining hall that night. So when the event started, we were one of the first ones on the dance floor 😀
So much fun!!!
Ezra and I had a blast grabbing balloons and popping them while we danced 😀 (I filmed the whole thing, so I’ll be sure to include it in my vlog.)
Another new experience we had on this cruise was the Movies Under the Stars. This was available at the Golden Princess too, but it was always too cold, so we just wanted to hide in our stateroom when night comes. It was still a bit chilly during our cruise this year, but the ship provided us with blankets to keep us warm.
They were playing Guardians of the Galaxy that evening
There was free popcorn available for the people watching the movie
And if popcorn isn’t your thing, you can always grab a pizza or a burger at the pizza and burger bars next to the pool
My dad enjoying his pizza
Or if you want something sweet the ice cream bar is just a few feet away, as well as the Horizon Court (buffet room).
I grabbed a pavlova from the buffet and brought it with me to eat while watching the movie 🙂
Speaking of desserts, that was one of the things that Ezra and I looked forward to the most on this cruise. Ezra especially loves sweet stuff, so she would lurk next to the dessert table looking for something good to eat.
Her favorite was this brownie cheesecake which they served on our first day there
Mine was the strawberry cheesecake and this strawberry pavlova. I had at least 3 of these in one sitting (my poor diet, eek!)
I was also reunited with the fruit tarts (which were my favorite from last year)
Aside from the yummy desserts at the Horizon Court, Ezra and I also enjoyed the desserts they served at the Sta. Fe dining hall:
(I only took a few pictures, but we filmed everything we ate, so you’ll most likely see it in a vlog when I get around to editing it)
Aside from dessert, one of the things I enjoyed the most at the buffet was the ramen and soba which they served daily:
I had this everyday while we were there 🙂 (They switched up what kind of ramen and soba they served each day, so it’s not as monotonous as it sounds)
During our cruise, we would usually have lunch and breakfast at the Horizon Court, but during sea days we treated ourselves to a traditional Japanese breakfast at the International Dining Hall:
The Japanese breakfast consisted of fish, pickled vegetables, miso soup, tamagoyaki, fruits and congee/rice. You can also ask the staff for some pastries, yogurt, eggs and other breakfast items, but we were pretty happy with the Japanese set.
Overall, our family had a magical experience at the Diamond Princess. I thought nothing would ever top my Golden Princess experience, but I was wrong. Our stay at the Diamond Princess was amazing – probably because we knew what to expect this time, and how to make the most of our time. We didn’t start watching shows or participating in events at the Golden Princess until the latter half of our cruise. Most of our free time on the ship last year was spent locked up in our staterooms, watching Gossip Girl or Running Man. This year we did our best to stay out of our staterooms to enjoy the ship’s activities 🙂
Our Diamond Princess experience wouldn’t be as amazing if it weren’t for the kind and warm-hearted people who were there for us during our stay.
Here’s a picture of our jolly waiters at the International Dining Hall who took care of us on our 6th day there. (The waiter on the right was actually with us during our Alaskan cruise last year. He came up to us because he remembered Ezra and me, how awesome is that!)
And here’s one with our amazing crew at the Sta. Fe dining room, who made sure to pamper us every single night we were there. There were more of them of course, but we weren’t able to get a picture with everyone 😦
Just like last year, our family was very happy about the fact that most of the crew were Filipino, because we could speak to them in our native language. My parents especially enjoyed chatting with them and learning about their lives and experiences on the ship. We were able to meet a lot of great people on board (both staff and guests), and hopefully we’ll come across them again in future cruises, because we will definitely be doing this again!
Thank you Diamond Princess for all the wonderful memories! We had an incredible stay 😀