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Diamond Princess to gain extensive Japanese bath in $30m refit at Sembawang

Diamond Princess to gain extensive Japanese bath in $30m refit at Sembawang
To get ready for Princess Cruises’ second season of Japan cruising, Diamond Princess is undergoing an extensive drydock at Singapore's Sembawang Shipyard to add features designed to appeal to Japanese cruisers.

During the $30m refurbishment, the ship will receive an extensive new Japanese bath area—making what Princess said will be 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 began Wednesday.

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.

'This is just one of several additions we’re making to the ship to give passengers an appealing Japanese experience,' said Princess president Jan Swartz.

Passengers will step into the new bath area through a peaceful entrance to an elegant, open-air unisex hydrotherapy pool. Outdoors, passengers will be able to relax in plush shaded lounge chairs or soak in a footbath. Indoors are two separate, gender-segregated baths with spectacular sea views. The ocean-view sauna and bath will feature an open-air skylight, as well as a dry sauna with dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows, plus a gentle mist sauna. The Stone Bath will feature an Utaseyu, an invigorating cascade of hot water used for relieving tension in the back and shoulders.

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. The 66-seat restaurant will serve miso shiro, nigiri sushi, maki sushi, sashimi, seafood cocktails and, for dessert, matcha ice cream with red bean paste. Regional sakes will give a taste of many of the ports featured during the cruise.

The duty-free boutiques on board 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 a fragrance bar 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 Horizon Court buffet area 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 at Yokohama (Tokyo) 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 operate a 10-day itinerary that includes opportunities to visit several festivals plus a call at Nagasaki, home to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries where the ship was built, to celebrate Diamond Princess’ 10-year anniversary.

Photo updates of the refurbishment will be posted here.