My husband and I sailed the 14 night first leg, from Singapore to Dubai, of this repositioning cruise. About 25% of the people continued on to Rome for another 14 nights. We began our adventure a few days earlier in Singapore staying at the Pan Pacific on Raffles Boulevard in the Marina Bay area. We were very pleased with this choice as it was in a great location and easy to see the colonial district, Raffles Hotel, Gardens by the Bay or the Flyer. The Promenade MRT station was just a few minutes walk. It was also only a 10-15 minute walk to the City Hall MRT or Marina Bay Sands across the way. The staff was friendly and helpful, the Club Room had great views of MBS and the flyer from the top floor, served great breakfast, snacks and drinks between 6-8 pm and the hotel offered free wifi. We used a combination of the efficient MRT, metered taxis, and foot to get around. The highlight was our private five hour walking tour in Chinatown with Sharon from Summer Footprints. We More
also managed a visit to the Orchid Garden and did an early morning walk of the Southern Ridges. Don't miss the hawker food especially the evening satay stalls outside of Lau Pa Sat.
Embarkation-the ship was docked at the new Marina Bay cruise terminal and the luggage drop-off and security went well. Not so with the rest of the process. As the cruise had four port stops in India this required a visa for most people. A copy of your passport bio-page with your Indian visa was also needed for which most people didn't bring along. This caused delays and problems in the queues. Forget about priority boarding unless you arrived in the first hour. After two hours we made it on board and our luggage was already waiting in our cabin.
Demographics-There were 1700 people on board, far less than capacity and only nine children. Almost half were from the US and many from Canada, UK, Australia, Japan, Singapore, HK, South America and Europe so it was a good mix. Everyone waited their turn and no chair hogs at the pool or in the theater!
Ship-after its recent multi-million dollar refurbishment the ship looked great. We really liked the R Bar in the centrum. It was attractively done and the focal point of many ship activities day and night including live music, entertainers, aerial shows, food demonstrations etc. It attracted a lot of people that might not have stopped by if these events were happening in a tucked away lounge or theater.
The addition of Chops and Izumi was welcomed and we dined at both of them. We really enjoyed our first aft cabin on deck 7. Two lounge chairs and no soot! The common areas were attractive and comfortable with nice views of the sea. The Solarium was somewhat plain IMO. It was always a nice spot to grab a table in the morning, though the breakfast didn't excite me. Shortly there after, the tables were filled with bridge and Mahjong players as there is not a game room. This didn't bother me but others commented that it took away from the serenity of the area. The library....I would load up your e-reader!
Food-Chef's Table-a "must do" and highlight of the cruise. It was offered most nights. The multi course meal paired with different wines was exceptional. If you didn't care for a particular wine selection you could ask for more of one of the others served that you liked better and pouring was not limited. The dessert was probably the weak link in all of the offerings but by then you were already full. There was talk of a possible second menu in the future for longer sailings as a lot of people would return. There were only six of us the evening we dined. The sommelier and chef explained each course and a nice hard-cover cookbook was complimentary. We booked pre-cruise for $105 and it included a night in Chops and one in Izumi with a credit of $20 pp as I recall. The specialty restaurant part of the package had to be booked onboard but you were given priority.
MDR-Always subjective I know. We found it to be pretty good, especially some of the Indian dishes. We didn't order any steak as we would be dining a couple of times at Chops and missed the lobster night. We also tried the MDR for breakfast which was ok and lunch which was great. You could "build a salad" which offered many selections and was very good as was the BBQ sandwich. We chose My Time Dining reserved pre-cruise for various times and were able to sit in the same section each time we ate there. We requested a table for two unless friends were joining us and except for the first night never had to wait long, dining after 8pm. Overall we felt they should have had more two and four top tables on this level, similar to Brilliance.
Chops-Excellent food and excellent service; Different versions of mud pie served on different nights
Izumi-A fun night cooking on the hot rocks but we were the only ones there!
Wine-we were not able to book a package online pre-cruise for this sailing. On board we could choose a package of wines by number of bottles. By the fourth night they were already out of three of the wines we liked and we had to opt for our fourth choice. We were requesting mid-level wines and had to pay the higher price when choosing alternatives. We escalated the situation but still only received multiple apologies. There were so many wines on the list not available, we wondered why they just didn't reprint the list which would have been less annoying as restocking was not going to be done until the end of this 14 night leg.
Park Cafe-A nice location but I was disappointed in the food. There were pre-made breakfast McMuffin type sandwiches which they would heat for you, oatmeal, cereals, muffins, yogurt parfaits with way too huge chunks of melon, and the wraps at lunch were soggy. The beef on kummelweck sandwiches were good though but they were out of chips!
Windjammer-typical buffet fair. I actually liked the breakfast as the eggs were not runny and the bacon was crisp. Raisin bread and roasted potatoes in the morning were also good.
Snacks-Not that we needed them but if you wanted a little something to go with your Happy Hour drink we found it difficult to find. Perhaps we were'nt looking in the right places at the right time. We were able to put together some cheese and crackers from the Windjammer one late afternoon but a few other times it was closed prior to dinner opening. The bars did not offer any peanuts unless you asked and the only outside pool bar didn't serve any so we brought our own cashews from port.
Lattitudes-I was disappointed in the coffee! I think you need to order a double shot of espresso if you go for the Grande or it lacks coffee flavor, more like hot milk. Ben & Jerrys also available here for a fee.
Shows and Activities-There were always a lot of activities going on. Dance classes, Hindi lessons, water-color, trivia, scrap-booking, enrichment lectures (some very good, some put you to sleep) cupcake decorating etc. The shows were entertaining, especially the Invitation to Dance by the crew. Outside entertainment was brought in at some ports as well (Bee Gees Improvisation, Russian pianist, female soloist etc.) Both the shows and outdoor movies were offered at staggered times to accommodate different dining times or late port departures.
Ports-There were 10 ports visited on this sailing. We arranged for private tours in six of them, a ship tour in Cochin, a driver in Sri Lanka, and did the other two on our own.
No news can be bad news-Once we left Phuket we experienced a news black out of sorts. The ship explained that we were out of satellite range. We were not able to get most tv channels including CNN or BBC. Everyone accepted this for the first few days but once we got into Muscat and Dubai it was hard to believe. Perhaps they hadn't purchased bandwith or however that works as the ship was leaving this area. The cruise director kept apologizing but it did not satisfy most as everyone wanted news regarding the Boston Marathon bombing and we were left to depend on our smart phones or BBerry.
Legend is now heading for the Med but you can sail Asia on her sister ships. Don't hesitate to cruise her in her new locales as she looks great and has a crew to match! Less
Muscat is a charming port. We have visited prior so this time we only took the shuttle to the gate and walked along the corniche, visited the al Baranda Museum and the Mutrah Souk. If you have not been before, other attractions to see would be the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque which is open to the public between 8:30-11am but not on Fridays. Appropriate modest dress is required. The Palace is quite beautiful but it is only the outside grounds that can be visited. The Bait al Zubair Museum in the same area is also very good with artifacts including swords and jewelry. There is a cafe and gift shop on the premises as well. If you have more time, The Royal Opera House schedules first class performances and there is always the exclusive Amouage perfume factory.