Whilst we were on the Diamond Princess in January this year, we experience a different dining options compared to the other cruises we have been on. It seems each cruise company has different dining experiences for their cruising customers to enjoy, from set dining times, to anytime dining, from one large dining room (that is normally two levels), or several dining areas that you are allocated to one for your entire cruise or a roster of different restaurants that you go to each night. As new and exciting ideas are implemented in different cruise companies or only in cruise classes, cruise enthusiasts get to experience a range of different dining experiences whilst at sea.
With the Diamond Princess we had a set dining time of 5.45pm in the International Dining room located Deck 6 Aft. This was the 1st seating, the 2nd seating was at 8pm which is too late for us. Generally pick the set dining option as we do enjoy the experience of having the same waiters and dining companions. We have found when we have done anytime dining which has it’s perks of eating when you want, you do have to tell your life story over and over again as you get to meet different people each night. On a longer cruise this can get a quite bothersome plus sometimes you don’t like who is at the table and you are wishing for your dinner to hurry up so you can leave. Also another reason why we like the set dining experience is that I have a dietary requirement – Gluten Free and I like not having to explain my situation each time I sit down. The head waiter Raj was so good from the first night onwards he always made sure I was looked after. I remember once we went for breakfast at the International Dining room and he was working the breakfast shift, he saw me and told the waiters on my table that I was Gluten Free. I was so impressed that he remembered me from all the other diners.
When you have dietary requirement you are normally presented the next night’s menu after you finished your meal and you order what you would like for the following night so they chefs have time to prepare your meal according to your dietary requirement.
We also like to have a bit of familiarity each night, as we tend to cruise by ourselves it is nice to have the same faces at the same table each night of the cruise. Plus your waiters get to know what you like and will preempt your preferences without you asking first such as Andrew and I like to have an English Breakfast tea after dinner with milk, so out this would come as our desserts were being served. Those little things that make you feel special are one of the reasons why we keep cruising. With the Diamond Princess as it is a larger ship it does things a little different, as there is no large two level dining room. It has five dining rooms that guests are allocated to instead:
- Savoy Dining Room Deck 5 Midship available for Anytime Dining 5.30pm-9.30pm
- Vivaldi Dining Room Deck 5 Midship available for Set Dining 1st seating 5.4pm-8pm and 8pm-9pm
- Santa Fe Deck 6 Midship available for Anytime Dining 5.30pm-9.30pm
- Pacific Moon Deck 6 Midship available for Anytime Dining 5.30pm-9.30pm
- International Dining Room Deck 6 Aft Set Dining 1st seating 5.4pm-8pm and 8pm-9pm
However with dining on a cruise ship you have option to do what you want and when it suits you as remember it is your holiday! Other options you have are the speciality restaurants of where you pay a surcharge, however the surcharge is very reasonable compared to what you would pay on the land. Plus you get to eat different cuisines that you might not get the opportunity to try elsewhere.
The speciality restaurants available on the Diamond Princess are:
- Sabatini’s (Italian) Deck 7 Midship $25 pp
- Kai Sushi (Japanese) Deck 7 Midship priced a la carte
- Sterling Steakhouse Deck 14 Aft $25 pp
On our cruise we had dinner once at Sabatini’s which was so worth the money, the food was delicious. We run out of time trying the other restaurants. As there are other complimentary food options to try out as well:
- Horizon Court (Buffet) open from 5am to 11pm Deck 14 Aft
- Trident Grill (snacks chips, hotdogs, burger on pool deck) Deck 14 forward
- Pizzeria Deck 14 Forward
- Swirls (Ice cream) Deck 14 Midship
- Small selection of snacks – cakes or sandwiches located at Lobby Bar Deck 5 Midship
The last option mentioned was the Lobby Bar, this is where you can purchase your morning, afternoon or all day caffeine hit. On some of the Princess ships there is the International Cafe which sells coffee, tea and would have a larger selection of snacks which change throughout the day i.e. cakes in the morning, sandwiches at lunch time and biscuits in the afternoon. There is afternoon tea on every day at the International Dining room if you can fit it in at 3.30pm-4.30pm unfortunately our stomachs couldn’t fit in this meal. We had to get a coffee (latte) each day and something that Princess did really well was to offer a coffee card for $32 which gave you 15 speciality coffees which included – Espressos, Cappuccinos, Iced Coffees, Macchiatos, Lattes and Coffee blends. Plus any used coffees are redeemable on your next Princess voyage. We thought this was great value, as we normally don’t go for any of the drinks package, as unless you will drink the required amount each day you probably won’t get your money’s worth.
Plus most cruise ships allow you to buy a bottle of wine at dinner and if you don’t drink it all in one sitting they will put this away for you and bring it out the next night. However you think you would drink enough to warrant the price per day of the drink’s package then they would be well worth it the expense as you wouldn’t have to worry about your drink purchases on your cruise account at the end of the day.
We really enjoyed the food on the Diamond Princess, it was one of the best that we have tried. Plus it is always nice to get a menu and pick your dinner and someone else cooks and cleans up for you.
If you get the chance go on the Diamond Princess it is coming back to Australia in 2018 or it sails full time in Japan, you will not regret it and your stomach certainly won’t !!