Embarkation- A snap. It took 20 min from entry to registration and 10 through security.
Cabin- An inside which was nicely designed and spacious looking due to extensive use of mirrors. There was a large amount of both storage and hanging space. A nice touch was the full length mirror. Kudos to our steward Joao from Portugal who was always available and went the extra mile.
Ship- Beautiful. The Diamond has only been in service about a year and is in top shape. This was our first time aboard a vessel this size (116,000 tons) and I was wondering about the passenger load. The cruise was sold out at ~ 3000 pax. Strangely enough, there were times when I walked through public areas and never saw another soul. In our past two decades of cruising, we have been on ships from 25K tons and up.
Dining- The food in both the dining rooms and the Lido was decent. We chose the anytime dining option and it worked out well with no waiting involved as we prefer to eat early. For those who chose dining after 7PM there can sometimes be a wait. My impression is that NCL does it better and has an edge on both the quality and variety of food. I miss the old themed nights with cuisine from a different country each night like Princess used to do on the old “love boat”. Although never noted for their food, I found that Carnival is doing a better job with their variety and quality than many other lines including Holland American.
Service- It was generally good throughout the ship. An exception was a couple of surly individuals on the Lido deck. I had wondered why we saw so few Italian waiters on this cruise (and on previous cruises the last several years). The answer was simple. Italy is a Euro country. The exchange rate now means that staff that get paid in dollars take a 25% hit when converting the money to Euros. The result is that most staff now come from eastern Europe, southeast Asia and the Philippines.
On board programs- Generally good. There were several computer seminars and the usual dancing programs. Of special note were four lectures given by on board naturalist Michael Modelewski. His presentations packed the Princess theater on all occasions and were informative as well as enthralling with almost mystical references to his experiences in Alaska. Another presenter was a Skagway local known as “Buckwheat”. His poetry recitals and personal experiences kept us in stitches.
Shows- The production numbers were OK but I’ve seen better on both NCL and Celebrity. The comedians were a mixed bag. We didn’t see any of the lounge acts but several pax said they were good. The cruise director was fun on stage but we didn’t see much of him during the cruise.
Land tours- These were generally over priced and can be arranged pier side for a lot less.
Disembarkation- Generally smooth although a bit lengthy.
I must admit that despite the fact that we enjoyed this cruise immensely, we still prefer smaller ships like the Royal Princess and even the old Enchanted Isle.