We arrived at the docks at about 1200 only to find out that, due to a delay, the Diamond didn't actually arrive in port at the scheduled time so we would not be boarding her until about 1500. I was able to walk outside and around the building and I got to a place at the dock where I was able to take a few photos. This was great because the side of the ship on the dock side was the Starboard, and I was looking right at the Aft where our cabin was. I have an extremely close shot of Caribe deck, cabin 747 if anyone is interested! Also got a few good shots of the back of the ship where Diamond Princess, Hamilton is printed.
We started boarding at almost exactly 1500 hrs. Because of my parents'Platinum status, we were among the first 100 or so people on board. If you have seen my photos yet, you may have noticed that the pool shots have very few, if any, people around them. As soon as we boarded, I went to the cabin and dropped off all carry-on items, grabbed the camera and a deck plan map, and I went exploring.
I took my hi-liter pen out every evening and planned out the next days' activities. I DO recommend the 2 shows, Curtain Up and Piano Man. The singers and dancers were outstanding! We arrived about 30 minutes early, for the early seatings, and we were able to secure great seats. The first night there is a Welcome Aboard show that we enjoyed too. The CD(cruise director) Billy Hygate introduced some of the assistant cruise directors. I wanted to see who I would be having a lot of contact with in the following week ! This is also where we heard, for the first time, that there were over 700 kids on board!
Later in the week, Friday, there was a backstage tour that I would recommend if you have never been "behind the scenes" of a stage presentation. A lot of work goes into these Broadway-like productions.
Tuesday, late afternoon, we enjoyed the Mexican Folkloric Show. Beautiful costumes and dancing from the different regions of Mexico.
My parents and I participated in the Morning Trivia with Mandy (asst. CD, from Canada) and we also tried our luck at the Multi-Media Trivia Challenge with Suzie and Jen (both are Jr asst. CDs, from Canada) These trivia challenges are not cut-throat competitive, just good fun. We were terrible at the Morning Trivia, but Mandy made it fun with her hilarious comments. Mandy is also the one who "insults" the contestants on the Weakest One (Princess' version of the Weakest Link). I was lucky enough to be 1 of 8 persons selected to participate in the Weakest One, and I won! Everyone who played got the same prize, which I thought was a good idea.
I recommend going to the Port and Shopping talk (ours was on Sunday) because you will get some raffle tickets to drop off at different stores in the ports, with the chance to win jewelry or other items. I won a silver bracelet from Cielito Lindo in Mazatlan, so I can tell you from personal experience it IS possible to win this stuff! You also will get good tips of what to look for and where to find it.
If they have the Celebrity Liars' Club, (monday for us) it is a very funny way to see the other side of the Captain! Our "celebrity panel" was Captain Bernard, CD Billy Hygate, singer Melanie Wood and Comedian Lorenzo Clark. A word is given, then each panelist has to explain what that word means. Only one person is telling the truth. The stories and explanations they come up are so funny, and sometimes were actually true!
Thursday evening, (the 2nd formal night) I stayed awake for the Champagne Waterfall Party (starting at 2330) It was interesting watching the Maitre d'Hotel construct the tower. You can even walk up some steps after it is done and get a photo taken of youself pouring champagne.
Speaking of photos, there are many "photo-ops" on board. 2 formal nights, a black and white casual and a color casual photo night., photos taken as you disembark at Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan (not Cabo, because you are tendered ashore), photos taken at different dining rooms, etc. We bought a few, but I mostly took the photos (or my dad took mine)
I also played a little shuffleboard, went with mom for afternoon tea at the Pacific Moon alternative dining room, walked the promenade deck at sunset and did a lot of walking around taking photos.
I can't comment on the pools, golfing, spa, ceramics, or any other activities not listed above, because I didn't participate in those. The pools looked refreshing and inviting, but my thinking is "I can swim at home". plus there were way too many kids for me.
I am very easy to please, but I still know bad food when I taste it. I am pleased to say that I did not taste anything bad on this trip! We did the alternative dining, eating in all 4 of the dining rooms. At each restaurant they also served whatever was on the traditional menu for the night. You got 2 menus and could mix from both menus if you wished.
*Pacific Moon (Asian theme) - I loved the shrimp scampi and scallops over noodles so much that I had it both times we dined here. I also got the appetizers both times- pot sticker, spring roll and wonton combination. Sushi isn't my thing, but I liked the raw shrimp over rice and the California Rolls.
*Vivaldi (Italian theme) - Mahi Mahi... YUM! Served with garlic mashed red potatos. The 2nd time we ate at Vivaldi I had the Orange Duck.. Again YUM! I decided to try some of the things I may not ever order at home and I was NOT dissapointed. I also recommend the raspberry crème broule!!
*Santa Fe (Southwestern/Mexican) - ok, coming from the southwest myself, I didn't go for something new but instead ordered the Chicken Fajitas, both times we dined there.
Delicious and ALMOST better than my mother-in-laws'! The rice pudding was very good too!
*Sterling (English - Steakhouse?) I am not much of a meat eater, so if anyone else reading this is the same, I would recommend saving the Sterling for the 2nd formal night (Thursday) when they serve the lobster on the traditional dining menu. I had the lobster tail and it was soooo juicy and good! I would also recommend the baked clams appetizer. This was the first night I didn't order desert! (too full!)
*Horizon Court- As some others have said, there is a confused atmosphere when you are going from one area of the buffet to another, but for the most part it was alright. I prefer just going to a section instead of having to stand in a buffet line, going past all the items I don't want just to get to the few that I do. You just have to watch out for the kids. Did I mention there were a lot of kids? The food itself was good. Not 5 star, but edible and always a good variety. My favorite was the fried fish! (I think it was Wednesday?) We ate at the Hamburger Grill 2 lunches (good burgers, chicken breasts and french fries) but we did not sample the pizza.
Staff and Crew:
I mentioned a few of the staff already, but I have to mention Jen again. She is a Junior Assistant Cruise Director. I ran into her a lot, at the trivia games, shuffleboard, Captains' cocktail parties, line dancing, and just around the ship. Every time she had a smile and a "hello!" for us. The other assistant CDs I had the opportunity to meet were Rodney (Australia), Julie (Australia), and Greg (South Africa), in addition to Julie, Jen and Mandy, who I already mentioned.
Our cabin steward, Constantin (Romania) was super! Whatever we needed, all we had to do was let him know and it was waiting in our cabin when we returned to it. The cabin was always cleaned and made up upon our returns and Constantin always had a smile ready.
I also have to mention Dragos and Dragos, (not related and both from Romania.) They were our waiter and assistant waiter the first night we dined at the Pacific Moon. I saw Dragos I again in the Horizon court at lunch (where a lot of the night time waiters double as help in the buffet area) and Dragos II at the Champagne Party. Both recognized me came over to me to say hello. Lisa from South Africa was another assistant waiter from Sterling restaurant who saw my family on more than one occasion in the Horizon and we even got a hug from her on the last morning at breakfast.
We felt so welcomed by all of the staff and crew we interacted with. Every staff or crew member we passed would always say hello, or good morning, or some kind of greeting. I have nothing negative to say about anyone I had contact with.
This was the only part of the cruise I have to complain about.. Because we actually got into port on time, if not a little early! The Platinum status of my parents once again came in handy. We were in the 3rd group to get off the ship and were in our personal car and on the freeway by 0845.
This was my first cruise, so a lot of the things I did and a lot of my observations may be a little different than those of veteren cruisers.
Thanks for reading.