Diamond Princess Ship. Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises

The Ultimate Dining and Spa Experiences on the Diamond Princess Cruise

A cruise to SE Asia for our special anniversary sounded exotic and relaxing, and we sailed through many happy experiences. We jumped into multiple pools, watched movies on the sun deck, enjoyed fascinating shore excursions, and fast-walked the promenade deck. We also took time for unique, luxury spa pampering.

He swooned over the crab cake appetizer with all-crab, no-fillers. I fell for the main course of two perfectly cooked lobster tails. We were spoiled by delicious food and service from our private Maître’ d.

But we bickered over which course we liked best during our “Ultimate Balcony Dining” meal on the Diamond Princess Cruise. He swooned over the crab cake appetizer with all-crab, no-fillers. I fell for the main course of two perfectly cooked lobster tails. We were spoiled by delicious food and service from our private Maître’ d. 

Sure, we could have frequented the main dining rooms that evening or joined fellow cruisers until 11 p.m. at the buffet. But we frequently explored the unique dining experiences and specialty restaurants. The high caliber of hospitality and gastronomy were highlights of the trip. The beverage menu, wine pairing seminars and cocktail demos also exceeded expectations.

The ship’s executive chef was a larger than life figure who recognized his key role on the ship. The enormity of the food operation is impressive. There are seven galleys (kitchens). On our cruise, there were 477 culinarians and wait staff creating the meals and room service from the 110 tons of food are delivered to the ship before embarkation in Singapore.

Ultimate Balcony Dining Experience

Our itinerary to SE Asia was colored by warm weather and beautiful countries to explore. After fascinating visits to Malaysia and Vietnam, we chose the evening after our Bangkok tour for our balcony dinner.

Ultimate Balcony Dining. Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises

The weather was perfect—not too hot or windy. Our Maître’ d Enrico and his assistant started our feast by popping the cork on Champagne. From the fancy canapés and baby endive salad with goat cheese to the vegetables served in oblong, quenelle shapes and multiple desserts, the food was five-star restaurant worthy. Our meal, at around one-quarter of the cost for an equivalent six-course land feast, was a highlight of the trip.

Sabatini’s

We discovered why Sabatini’s is the most popular specialty restaurant. The open kitchen and well-appointed décor transported us to a favorite San Francisco restaurant. The burrata appetizer, a fresh, stuffed mozzarella ball on tomato carpaccio with aged balsamic, was excellent. I devoured the succulent veal chop while my husband savored his branzino covered in thin “scales” of zucchini. In one bite of well-made tiramisu, you could taste the traditional, layered flavors. 

Sterling Steakhouse

Sterling Steakhouse Filet. Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises

Since my husband doesn’t eat meat, I dined alone at Sterling Steakhouse and was treated like a princess. I’m still dreaming of the filet—cooked to my order, tender and well-matched to the pink and black salts spooned on the plate. The appetizers won my heart: Black Tiger Prawn salpicon and Scallop timbale appetizers. The creamed spinach was a classic, accompanied by generous helpings of wild mushrooms, asparagus, and Bernaise and Marchand de vin sauce. I took the lemon meringue pie to our room’s refrigerator for nibbling later.

Sterling’s Steakhouse. Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises

Kai Sushi Restaurant

Kai Sushi. Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises

The Diamond Princess is the only ship in the Princess fleet to offer a specialty sushi restaurant. This option makes sense—the ships sails the Japanese islands in season. The décor reflects the Asian-inspired concept, and a Japanese chef at the á la carte restaurant fosters a more authentic experience.

Main Dining Rooms and Buffet

We were pleasantly surprised at the quality of food in the main dining rooms and buffet. One evening’s tian of crab, scallop and shrimp with a duo of caviar with a papaya dressing was a favorite menu item. I was in a near chocolate haze by the end of the cruise, but the chocolate pistachio dome with almond and pistachio nougatine towered over the other desserts.

Buffet Dining. Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises

I normally patronized the buffet for a light lunch except for the special pub menu offered one day with a ploughman’s meat and cheese tray plus an array of English sausages, washed down with a Bass ale.

The buffet offered healthy and more caloric options, from fruit and vegetables to ethnic specialties, sandwich and pizza favorites. I dished up Indian curries and Singapore fried noodles.

 

The Maître’ d Wine Club

We were fortunate to have a head water who is studying advanced Court of Master Sommelier certifications. The wine expert led two “Wine Club” seminars which went beyond the standard “here’s-the-food-here’s-the-wine” format. Jazz musicians added musical ambiance. We learned about the history of Champagne while sipping Nicolas Feuillant, Robert Mondavi, and nibbling short ribs. Other examples were steak paired with Seghesio zinfandel and Umeshu plum wine was terrific with cheese.

Wine Club. Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises

With 11 bars onboard, it’s not easy to pick favorites. But at Skywalkers Lounge, I liked the mocktails such as “Strawberries on Fire” as much as the Limon Mojito. Churchills is known for whisky flights, rare bottles and single malts. Sipping a Dean’s Dirty martini at the Crooners bar listening to the featured singer was a high note of the cruise.

Spa Moments

Taking a break from touring, exercising, noshing and imbibing, I explored the Lotus Spa and luxuriated in a seaweed massage. The warmed flotation bed for the service was a most memorable experience. Think of a water bed, but 100-times better. As I detoxed from the seaweed wrap. I “floated” in a cocoon. I also met the Japanese acupuncturist who presented himself as quite perceptive. The aesthetic physician onboard was also knowledgeable and eager to beautify me.

Along with more spa time during our next cruise, we look forward to an “Ultimate Balcony Experience” for breakfast and the Chef’s Table Experience in the galley which wasn’t available on our itinerary.

Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd.

During our 10-day cruise, we discovered a polished diamond of special services and amenities onboard. From the daily activities to quiet, coffee moments, shore excursions, fine dining, wine learning, and more, we enjoyed each day of our anniversary excursion.

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