To get ready for Princess Cruises’ second season of Japan cruising, Diamond Princess will get an extensive drydock to add enticing new features designed to appeal to Japanese cruisers.
During the $30 million-dollar refurbishment, the ship will receive an extensive new Japanese bath area – making it the largest such bath experience at sea – as well as a new sushi restaurant, enhanced shopping areas, a revitalized Horizon Court, additional staterooms, new interior furnishings and finishes, fresh hull paint and exterior refurbishment, and contemporary and Asian-style touches.
The drydock, which begins today, will take place through April 2, 2014 at Sembawang shipyard in Singapore. Interested viewers can follow the drydock progress with regular photo updates offering a behind-the-scenes glimpse each day.
The most dramatic new feature, the 8,800-square-foot bath and garden complex will include indoor and outdoor bathing areas to provide a choice of bath styles. Highlighting the serenity and relaxation of a classic Japanese bath experience, the area will feature stone and other natural materials and a setting similar to the popular-onsen experience for which Japan is well-known.
“Because bathing is an important part of the Japanese culture, we want to offer passengers an authentic experience onboard, complete with unparalleled ocean views.” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “This is just one of several additions we’re making to the ship to give passengers an appealing Japanese experience.”
Passengers will step into the new bath area through a peaceful entrance beckoning them toward an elegant, open-air Japanese unisex hydro-therapy pool, which is surrounded by refreshing ocean breezes. Outdoors, passengers will be able to relax in plush shaded lounge chairs or soak in a footbath while enjoying fresh salt air. Indoors, passengers can enjoy two separate, gender-segregated bath experiences with spectacular sea views. The ocean-view sauna and bath will feature an open air skylight to help bathers connect with nature, as well as a dry sauna with dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows, plus a refreshing gentle mist sauna. The Stone Bath will feature an Utaseyu, an invigorating cascade of hot water that is ideal for relieving tension in the back and shoulders.
In addition to the new bath area, Diamond Princess passengers will enjoy a new sushi restaurant. Because of the popularity of the Kai Sushi restaurant introduced on Sun Princess, a bigger version of this restaurant will be added to Diamond Princess, and will feature both table seating and a sushi bar serving fresh seafood. The 66-person capacity restaurant will serve miso shiro, nigiri sushi, maki sushi, sashimi, seafood cocktails and, for dessert, matcha ice cream with red bean paste. Sake lovers will be able to try a variety of regional sakes for a taste of many of the ports featured during the cruise.
The duty-free boutiques aboard Diamond Princess will be remodeled to offer a new luxury shopping experience to appeal to customers in Japan. Among the distinctive new spaces is a luxury watch boutique -- anchored by a special OMEGA shop. The Essence boutique will introduce the first fragrance bar at sea where passengers can sample and learn about new scents. The Meridian Bay boutique includes a full crystal Swarovski installation as well as Jacqueline Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn collections. A new Limelight luxury boutique will offer designer leather and accessories including fashionable international and American designer brands such as Burberry, Fendi, Salvatore Ferragamo, Coach and Ralph Lauren.
The ship’s buffet area, the Horizon Court, will be upgraded to feature contemporary food service areas and action stations for live a la carte cooking, plus a special pastry shop, refreshed décor and expanded seating.
Other changes include 14 new cabins, a sports court on the roof of Skywalker’s Nightclub, a revitalized photo gallery and Platinum Portrait Studio, new art gallery displays, new décor in Sabatini’s Italian specialty restaurant, remodeled casino and relocated Internet café and wedding chapel.
Once out of drydock, Diamond Princess will set sail on a season of Japan-based cruises on April 17. The ship will homeport in Tokyo (Yokohama) for an extended season of nine-day cruises that include visits to Taiwan, South Korea, Hokkaido, Russia and 15 Japanese ports, including five new itineraries created especially for the ship. During the popular holiday period of Golden Week, Diamond Princess will feature a special 10-day itinerary that includes opportunities to visit several festivals plus enjoy a special call to Nagasaki, home to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries where the ship was built, to celebrate Diamond Princess’ 10-year anniversary.
The new features aboard Diamond Princess add to the ship’s current impressive array of dining and entertainment options plus signature innovations such as the popular Movies Under the Stars poolside theater and The Sanctuary, an exclusive top-deck retreat. The 2,670-passenger Diamond Princess offers a high number of staterooms with private balconies, multiple dining rooms and entertainment venues, Lotus Spa, boutiques, and an internet café, among other amenities.