After leaving the Japanese port of Kagoshima behind we had another day at sea which was mostly spent relaxing, swimming, doing badly at trivia again, and the odd drink or five. We also had an encounter with the Park West art gallery people that really deserves its own entry at some point and it’ll be a hell of a thing when I get around to writing about it (teaser: they don’t come out of it looking good).
The next port of call was Xiamen in the Fujian province of China. Xiamen was a city we’d not heard anything about prior to booking the cruise and, indeed, didn’t really find out a whole lot about in the lead-up to it either. Arriving fairly early in the morning but still having trouble sleeping in because our body clocks weren’t adjusting very well to the initial long flight eastwards that had rapidly lost us hours followed by the cruising generally westwards that was now triggering time changes overnight and slowly gaining us hours, we had plenty of time to kill as we cruised towards the port. We had another wander around the ship, taking more photos, enjoying the warmth of the sunshine.
It wasn’t at all surprising to see the main swimming pool devoid of any people braving its frigid temperatures especially once we started to move from the open sea, passing Zhangzhou harbour on the port side and starting to follow the curve of Xiamen island clockwise. This had the effect of funnelling a pretty nippy north wind down the length of the ship which you’ll be able to hear in the video at the end of this post.
The daily Radio Taiso exercises were being shown on the movie screen out on the deck and there were – as usual – people joining in. We made a point to join in on sea days only so contented ourselves with simply observing for a while as Diamond Princess got closer to the Chinese city.
We decided to stay out on deck so that we could see any interesting elements on either the mainland or island rather than limiting ourselves to just what was visible from our balcony and we’re glad we did because there was some very odd-looking architecture on the port side, the Haicang district.
A pair of matching buildings were the most prominent sign of large construction as we cruised past the Xiagang residential district on our starboard side. When we’d been looking at maps of the city prior to our cruise this had been one area of interest on account of some interesting-sounding museums, historical and religious buildings, and even bars in close proximity. No tours or excursions went anywhere near here, though, and it was sufficiently far away and our time in the port was sufficiently limited that we weren’t quite confident enough we could get to it, do it justice, and get back to the ship. Were we to return and have more time in Xiamen this is part of the city that would definitely deserve more of a look around.
One of the most well-known attractions of Xiamen (apparently it’s one of the top attractions in China) is Gulangyu Island, a place with no cars or bikes permitted. Several excursions hit this island but we didn’t feel they offered very good value for money once we’d checked to see how much it cost to just take the ferry across on your own. While the ferry seemed cheap and while we’re always keen to take boat trips to places even when we’re cruising, though, we also didn’t think there was quite enough on the island to warrant a short stop for ourselves. Again, it’s one of those places that looks like it would be good to spend a large chunk of a day on simply because of the difficulty in getting around the place to find all the spots of interest.
After Gulangyu we then carried on through the deeper water of the channel between the island of Dayu on the port side and a smaller island on the starboard where a pylon spanning the channel between the island of Xiamen and the Chinese mainland and a lighthouse were situated.
From there it was a slow but steady approach to Xiamen’s international cruise terminal taking us closer to the bulk of the modern buildings of the city’s Dongdu district.
As Diamond Princess came alongside in Xiamen we spotted reflections of another cruise ship docked ahead of us, one with a yellow funnel. We never did work out which ship it was.
The video below covers some of the approach to Xiamen on Diamond Princess and gives you a feel for just how windy it got along that final channel towards the cruise terminal.
In the next post we’ll cover what we saw in Xiamen itself and our thoughts on the city as a cruise ship destination in general as well as what impact it had specifically for this Princess Cruises itinerary.