Princess Cruises has notified guests booked on a 2024 Japan voyage that their sailing has been canceled, leaving limited options for disappointed cruisers. The cruise was part of a spring series of voyages ranging from 5 to 19 days, but the impacted sailing will now be a charter cruise instead.
Japan Voyage Nixed on Diamond Princess
Cruise guests booked on a 19-day “Southern Islands & Sea of Japan” voyage on Diamond Princess due to depart in spring 2024, were told that Princess Cruises will instead charter the full ship to an unnamed group.
The line issued a cancellation notice to guests for the May 16, 2024 departure, which was to operate roundtrip from Tokyo (Yokohama).
The notification said that booked guests will receive a refund of all monies paid within 10 to 15 business days. Refunds will be made to the original form of payment.
There is an option to rebook on a later cruise, however, if guests are willing and able to adjust their travel plans. Princess Cruises suggested that guests consider an alternate, 18-day Southern Islands & Sea of Japan, a similar itinerary also aboard Diamond Princess and roundtrip from Tokyo, departing on June 22, 2024. Guests who wish to rebook to the June date were asked to contact the cruise line or their travel advisor.
The June 22 itinerary does not include four ports scheduled on the canceled cruise, including Aomori, Sakata, Toyama, and Sakaiminato, all in Japan. Two new ports are on the alternate itinerary, however – Kagoshima and Akita.
The notice also sweetened the deal with a financial incentive, offering guests who rebook for any 2024 Japan or Singapore voyage $50 onboard credit per stateroom, with the credit applying to the first two guests on the booking, for reservations made by August 31, 2023.
“We sincerely apologize for any disappointment this cancellation may cause and look forward to welcoming you aboard another Princess cruise,” the notification said.
Port calls on the lengthy, now-cancelled itinerary included well-known destinations, such as Sakata, Ishigaki, and Nagasaki, Japan; Busan, South Korea; and Hualien and Keelung, Taiwan, among others.
All cruise lines do occasionally cancel voyages in favor of full-ship charters. While it may seem unfair to booked guests who have their travel plans disrupted, such cancellations are typically made many months in advance, allowing plenty of time for revised plans.
In May 2023, for example, Norwegian Cruise Line canceled nearly all of the Norwegian Spirit’s Alaska cruises in 2024. Initially, the line gave no reason for the cancellation, but a month later revealed the ship would be chartered to a Taiwanese tour company for cruises in Asia.
Sailing Was Part of a Broader Return to Japan
Princess Cruises returned to the Japan region in spring 2023 for the first time since the industry-wide shutdown. The line had announced in December 2022 that it would redeploy to Japan after the government decided to allow international cruise ships to return to its ports.
The cruise line introduced both a spring and summer 2024 series of cruises onboard the 2,670-guest Diamond Princess, which entered service in 2004.
Some of the ship’s summer itineraries will showcase local festivals, offering guests late-night stays in port for events that include the Aomori Nebuta Festival, Kochi Yosakoi Dance Festival, and the Kumano Fireworks Festival, all happening in August 2024.
Japanese Guests Introduced to Medallion Services
Japanese guests sailing onboard Diamond Princess in 2023 are having their first experience using the Princess Medallion technology. The quarter-size Medallions are wearable devices that enable touch-free boarding, keyless stateroom entry, locating other guests onboard the ship, making dining reservations, ordering food and drinks, and accessing other shipboard services.
The technology, which is accessed by downloading the Medallion app, was introduced by Princess Cruises in 2017 but was not in use on Diamond Princess during pre-pandemic Japan sailings.
The 115,875-gross ton Diamond Princess is a Grand-class ship that offers eight stateroom categories and several specialty restaurants, including Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria, Sterling Steakhouse, Kai Sushi, Chef’s Table Experience, and Ultimate Balcony Dining. It has five main dining rooms and 12 bars, and plenty of other features for cruisers of all ages to enjoy.