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NEW ARRIVAL - NEXT CRUISE DIAMOND PRINCESS WHITTIER TO BEIJING

Roger Horn

Deckhand
I just joined this site. Anyone going on the Sept. 21 Diamond Princess cruise from Anchorage to Beijing? Anyone ever been on a similar cruise?

We have discovered the wonders of repositioning cruises. If you don't mind sea days, and my wife and I do not, such cruises are a wonderful way of getting to places one might not otherwise make it to.
 

Pam in CA

Captain
Roger, welcome!

I took the Diamond from Beijing to Whittier in May. Fantastic cruise. What questions did you have? I'd be happy to answer them.

Do you have a few days extra planned for Beijing? I highly recommend that you do. Several people on my cruise combined the Diamond cruise with a Viking River cruise so they could see more of China.
 

Roger Horn

Deckhand
Thank you. Let me start with a few questions and hope I can come back with more.

I think your itinerary was quite different from the one we will follow going East. Our stops are Muroan, Japan; Vladivostok, Russia; Busan, South Korea; Qingdao, China; Dalian, China; Beijing, China. I think we have in common Dalian, Busan and Beijing, so I am particularly interested in your experiences at those ports.

We are going to remain one full week in Beijing. We have hired a driver for a day to take us to an area of the wall and some of the tombs. Our hotel is in a hutong just a few blocks from the Forbidden City. What recommendations do you have for must sees in the city and possible day trips (perhaps one more in addition to tombs and Great Wall).

What did you do in Busan? We are considering going to one of the Buddhist shrines out in the countryside.

So far, we don't have anything planned for Dalian. What did you do?

Our tendency is not to use the ship's tours, but to arrange things for ourselves. You?

For you the first part of the trip was the journey through the Aleutians. Could you see anything? What should we look for?

Any areas in which we should be particularly alert to wild life viewing? Whales, etc?

I'm sure I will have more questions, but this is a start.

Thank you.
 

Pam in CA

Captain
Yes, your itinerary is very different from the one I took.

After traveling for about 24 hours and then taking a very full 3-day tour where we left before 8am and didn't return to the hotel until 6-7pm, plus another tour on the way to the ship, our next port was Dalian. I was exhausted and decided to stay on the ship as I knew that the next three days would be all-day tours.

I loved Busan. Took a private tour that a friend arranged. We went to the Haedong Temple, the Beomeosa Temple, and the fish market.

In Osaka, I took a private tour that a friend had arranged. We went to Kyoto and saw the Nijo Castle, Kinkaku-ji (Golden) Temple, Kiyomizu Temple, and the Sannenzaka/Ninenzaka shopping area for a traditional Korean lunch.

In Yokohama, I again took a private tour that a friend arranged. We went to the Imperial Palace, Tokyo Tower, Tsukiji Market, and Asakusa (Sensoji Temple and Nakamesi Street). We had some extra time and stopped at the Meiji Shrine.

In Beijing, you would want to go to Tienanmen Square, Forbidden City, Great Wall, and the Summer Palace. Go to the Summer Palace via boat. It's much more relaxing. Try to go to the Silk Market if you can. It's five floors of shopping stalls. I bought a gorgeous jade and diamond ring for only $300. It was originally marked for $2,300 and is large and high quality. You can buy anything from Apple computers, iPods, etc. to leather jackets. We went to a couple of hutongs, once for lunch. We were supposed to have a Peking duck lunch but there was a bird flu scare so it was recommended that we not do that.

Sailing through the Aleutians, we did see the islands and sailed between them a couple of times. We saw whales and other wildlife as we sailed through.

The one thing I'd be prepared for is that it's VERY cold between Whittier and close to Japan. About 36 hours after sailing from Yokohama, the temps dropped to the 30's. Pack layers. :)

I've used a number of different visa services to get visas. The friend who arranged the private tours recommended "Visa HQ" and they were great! They were much easier to use to apply for the Chinese visa and were less-expensive than any other service. When you go to their site, you just answer a series of questions and the form is filled out for you. No trying to interpret what the Chinese visa application is asking for.

Here's a link to my photos in case you're interested: https://picasaweb.google.com/101474003611782249767/DiamondBeijingToWhittier
 
We will doing this cruise starting in Vancouver = we have no excursions planned other than Beijing - we are staying at the Park Plaza in Beijing and have contracted Catherin Liu for pickup at the port three days touring and transportation to the airport. - perhaps we can find and organize some port tours,
 

Pam in CA

Captain
Ronald, you'll enjoy this cruise. I have to admit that there were a few negatives on the Diamond but they didn't affect my overall enjoyment of the cruise. I had a less than stellar cabin steward who couldn't keep requests straight (he delivered the robe I'd requested to another cabin) and kept delivering my laundry to another cabin and that cabin's laundry to me, plus some cleaning issues. Smoking is allowed in one section of Skywalkers which affected almost half of the lounge. And I got strange looks from my friends when I mentioned this but there was no cottage cheese in either the buffet or dining room. None of these were big deals. I had a terrific cruise and you will, too. :)
 

jack100

Deckhand
We will doing this cruise starting in Vancouver = we have no excursions planned other than Beijing - we are staying at the Park Plaza in Beijing and have contracted Catherin Liu for pickup at the port three days touring and transportation to the airport.
You seem to have picked an excellent tour guide....there are so many great places to visit in Beijing. I was there a couple of years before the Beijing Olympics and loved my stay there.
 
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