Our last vacation was our honeymoon in 2006 on the Costa Allegra. 2 kids came along in 2008 and 2010 and it became troublesome for us to travel for the first few years. As such, we were really looking forward to our 3 night cruise to Penang and Malacca.
Sailaway was at 4pm but I was happy that guests could board as early as 11am. Check-in was seamless and the first sign of Royal Caribbean's exceptional "Gold and Anchor" service was demonstrated when a staff directed us to the express line for Suite passengers when he saw us struggling to carry our two kids.
On board, the whole ship gives one the feel of a tourist class hotel. There is no "wow" factor such as a lobby as we boarded the ship on Deck 2. Luckily a panda mascot was taking photos with everyone, setting the mood for fun. The design of the various lounges and the shopping arcade had design from yesteryear. The toilets were simple and functional- most shopping center in Singapore would have nicer toilets than those on Legends of the Seas!
Our balcony cabin, like the public area does not exude any sense of luxury although it is cozy and comfortable. There were plenty of storage space but some drawers could not be fully closed. We are not really particular thus this does not bother us. I like brightly lit room and I am happy with the number of lights in our cabin. Although there were plenty of news channel on TV but the movies aired were few and uninteresting. The channel showing the position of the ship was practically useless as the map showed the whole of Asia whereas we are only cruising a short distance up the Peninsular of Malaysia. As a result, we do not really know where we are.
In light of recent cruise ship accidents, it is worthy to mention that muster drill was conducted before sailaway. However, life vest does not need to be worn during the drill. I tried it on myself and it was not as fool proof to wear as I thought! There is also a "Youth Evacuation Programme" whereby children are tagged with coloured wrist band so they could be brought to the correct muster station and reunited with their parents should they be in the Kids Club during an emergency.
Dinner time came and we became apprehensive about dining in the main dinning room. Could our 2 and 4 years old boys sit still? We have to watch how they behave as we will be sharing a table with strangers! When we were shown to our table, I saw wine glasses and told our waiter that we would rather dine at the Windjammer Cafe lest my kids broke them. However, he kindly assured us that the glasses will be promptly cleared and high chairs for the kids were promptly brought out. However, there were no plastic dinning ware for the kids and no efforts were made to bring them from the Windjammer Cafe. To the children's delight, they were served a fruit platter while we ordered from the menu. Service was prompt with all our requests immediately attended to. It's the best any one could have asked for. My kids brought along a small car to entertain themselves and they were swiftly picked up by our waiters when they dropped it. Our waiter even performed a magic trick using tea cups for my kids! Although the food was nicely presented, it was not tasty.
After dinner, we spent some time at the video arcade before we retired for the night. While the children were asleep, I went to check out the entertainment onboard. The casino was crowded. The minimum bet was US$10 and I didn't fancy losing my money so I left after awhile. The show was good and the cruise director is humourous and speaks excellent English although he is from mainland China. I also enjoyed the live performance by the various musical groups. On the other hand, the movie in the theater, like those screened on TV is not worth watching.
Free room service is one of the major advantages of cruising with Royal Caribbean. Breakfast was delivered to our room and we enjoyed it in the balcony. The feeling is awesome! After breakfast, we tried our hands on the mini golf before we went to Adventure Ocean- Royal Caribbean's Kids Club. Both my kids enjoyed playing with the Fisher-Price toys there. There was a staff cleaning the toys for hygiene reasons but no one did a temperature check of the kids entering the premise. Taking the temperature of a child before they enter an indoor playground or a child care center is a standard practice in Singapore. For children between the ages of 3 to 5 ("Aquanauts"), there are Art & Craft and story telling sessions. However, this is a drop-off programme and parents are not allowed to accompany the child. For this reason, we did not participate in any of these. Hopefully, we will do it next year when the kids are older.
We reached Penang on schedule. We did not sign up for any shore excursions for both the ports-of-call as we did not find it interesting. Although there were different itineraries, they were all similar. Instead, we had hired a car and driver to bring us to take the Ferricular train up Penang Hill.
The following day was spent in the Solarium before we arrived in Malacca. Although the ship was tendered, the frequency of the tender boats was high and we ashore quickly. Once again, we prefer to get around on a combination of trishaw and taxi instead of joining any of the shore excursions.
This wonderful holiday ended with an early morning docking in Singapore. Royal Caribbean has impressed me with its excellent service. Will I cruise with them again? Why not?