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Cruising on the Diamond Princess

Los Angeles - at sea - at sea - Puerto Vallarta - Mazatlan - Cabo San Lucas - at sea - Los Angeles

 
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Rating (out of 5):    Ship    Food    Service    Itinerary

We decided to bring our kids on this cruise. It was the first cruise for Mike (23) and the second for Christina (20). The Mexican Riviera sounded ideal as there were lots of things to entertain the kids in port. We booked 2 cabins - an inside for the kids and a balcony for the old folks. The kids didn't mind sleeping in an inside cabin, and they were free to use our balcony whenever they wished.

Pre-Cruise (Apr 23) - A Day in Los Angeles

We decided to arrive in LA the day before the cruise, just in case. Mike was living in Victoria at that time, and was going to fly in the next day. We would meet him at the airport. After checking into our hotel, we took a cab to a shopping mall and then walked down to Manhattan Beach. There are some wonderful shops there, much like a seaside town. We had dinner at an excellent Italian restaurant called Mama D's. The only problem with having the shopping day before the cruise (rather than after) is that you have to pack all your purchases with you on the cruise.

Day 1 (Apr 24) - Boarding in Los Angeles

We were up fairly early, packed and checked out of the hotel. We took the shuttle to the airport to meet Mike and to get the Princess shuttle to the ship. The ship was docked at San Pedro. The bus ride was fairly quick and we were soon at the terminal. The Diamond Princess looked immaculate sitting at the dock. It was only 6 weeks old! We had quite a wait in the terminal building before our number was called to board.

Once on board, we found our rooms and dumped our carry-on stuff. Then we headed to the buffet for lunch. After lunch we toured around and checked out the ship. Then it was lifeboat drill, sail away and time for dinner.

Day 2 (Apr 25) - A Day At Sea

Our balcony cabin was a corner aft cabin, on the Caribe deck. The balcony was quite large and the view was terrific. You could see aft of the ship as well as to the port side. The only drawback to the aft balcony was that when the boat was going full tilt, it was very noisy on the balcony. With the door closed, the cabin was fine, but standing out on the balcony was quite loud.

We visited the purser's desk and they cut spare entry cards to our room so that the kids could come and go as they pleased. Their inside cabin was just down the hall from us. They had a different cabin steward than us, and they had a great time with him.

Day 3 (Apr 26) - Another Day At Sea

The Diamond was a fantastic ship. One new feature introduced with the Diamond / Sapphire ships was the themed Personal Choice dining restaurants. PC folks could book at any of 4 restaurants - Vivaldi's (Italian), Santa Fe (Tex/Mex), Pacific Moon (Asian) or Stirling (steak house). Each restaurant had the regular dining room menu PLUS a specialty menu unique to each restaurant. We enjoyed each of the restaurants and cycled through them twice. I understand that Princess has since abandoned the specialty menus. Too bad, as this was a wonderful innovation.

This was our first cruise that featured B2B sea days. They weren't difficult to handle at all - there was so much to do on the ship.

Day 4 (Apr 27) - Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Mike and I were booked for a zip lining excursion in PV. However, our ship had to wait over an hour to allow a late HAL ship (Volendam) to dock. We missed the excursion! We were peeved. By coincidence, some friends of ours were on the Volendam and we were going to meet them on the dock. PV is the only docking facility we've seen that fences off each ship. That made it difficult to meet passengers from the other ship. Compounding things was the fact that the ships were on different time zones. So, we never did meet our friends.

We wasted the morning at the dock, so went back for lunch to cheer ourselves up. In the afternoon, we went into town and walked along the PV beach. Lots of people crowded the sidewalks. It was really hot, so Mike and I bought some beer to take back on the ship. No problem taking the beer on the ship. If we ever come back again, we gotta do the zip lining!

Day 5 (Apr 28) - Mazatlan, Mexico

We arrived early in the morning at Mazatlan - an industrial city of some 200,000 people. We had booked a horseback excursion (Randi's Happy Horses). We were picked up at the ship by a tractor and wagon. We stopped at a fishing dock (with dozens of pelicans). Then we travelled by ferry boat to an island, where we were picked up by a truck. After a drive across the island, we ended up at the horse ranch. We rode through a coconut grove and then along a beautiful beach. After the ride we lunched at a shrimp restaurant. Then we did the reverse trip back to the ship. It was a great day.

We spent the remainder of the day exploring the cruise dock shops and then relaxed on the ship. We didn't go in to Mazatlan itself. I don't think it is a tourist city.

Day 6 (Apr 29) - Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

We hit our final port just as the sun was rising. A reddish light fell on the famous "Los Arcos". Mike signed up for a scuba excursion, while the rest of us did a bus tour. The tour stopped at a glass blowing factory in Cabo. Then we went to a restaurant (Giorgio's) along the coast. Continuing on to San Jose, we visited a Catholic church and a cactus garden (Cacti Mundi). It was a really nice tour

We arrived back at the ship in time for lunch, and then spent the afternoon wandering around the town of Cabo San Lucas. It is definitely a tourist town with many hotels, restaurants, etc. The major industry seems to be deep sea fishing charters.

Day 7 (Apr 30) - A 3rd Day At Sea

Time to head back to Los Angeles. Along the way we were escorted by a pod or 50 or so dolphins. They were jumping the ship's wake and we had a perfect view from our aft cabin. I had never seen so many dolphins at one time. It was amazing.

Although the Diamond is very simiar to the Grand class, there are some positive differences. The first, as I mentioned earlier, are the 4 specialty restaurants. Secondly, moving the "shopping cart handle" forward has really opened up the rear pool area. Lots more sun now. Another difference is the huge internet cafe. There are lots of stations, well laid out, and there's even a coffee bar with fresh cookies. Definitely the nicest internet cafe that I've seen.

It was a relaxing day at sea. Reading, workout in the gym, walking the promenade deck. Life doesn't get any better!

Day 8 (May 1) - Los Angeles and Home

We arrived back at the San Pedro dock early in the morning. Disembarkation went pretty well. We caught the Princess shuttle back to the LAX airport. Mike had his own flight back to Victoria. Marj, Chrissy and I flew back through Denver.

In summary, the Diamond Princes was a wonderful ship. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise, and it turned out to be a great experience for the kids. I'd certainly do the Diamond (or Sapphire) again.

For some reason, Princess gave me an extra cruise credit (not Marj, just me). We did pay for the extra cabin, but the kids got credits as well. However, it put me one cruise closer to free internet.