We were a family of 4 first time cruisers and did the Spice of Asia 6 night cruise and loved it. I’m scared of heights and get motion/car sickness, so was a bit apprehensive of cruising and stocked up on pills – I needn’t have worried as I never felt the motion of the boat. I’d read that people who suffer sea-sickness are better off on lower deck staterooms, so we had an outside (window) cabin on deck 2. Two single beds, with two bunks above for the kids (aged 10 & 12) – we were all extremely comfortable and slept like babies every night. Although in the aft section there was very little engine noise – just a constant low hum, no more intrusive than most hotel room’s aircon systems. Our cabin was tended to twice a day, with the beds made and bunks retracted in the morning, and lowered in the evening. We all enjoyed the towel animals – loved coming back from dinner to see which animal we had!
The ship itself is fantastic. Our boys did nearly every ice-skating session and were kept busy in-line skating, rock climbing, mini golf and playing basketball. They were never bored. The younger one decided against the kids club and chose to make friends elsewhere and hang out by the pool. The older one loved the hangout and Fuel nightclub and enjoyed most of the organised teen activities.
The majority of passengers were Australian (over 60%) with the next biggest group Chinese. The food was fantastic. We lunched at Windjammers (though very tough to get a table) and had my-time dining for dinner. The same table every night with 2 of the most brilliant wait-staff, Alex and Rodante. They encouraged us to try new things (imagine kids giving escargot a go!) and every three course meal was a winner.
We didn’t do any of the ship’s shore excursions, choosing to do trips independently. Those on ship’s excursions get to disembark first, so we got to sleep in and enjoy a less crowded breakfast. Getting on and off is seamless with the Seapass system. I was initially worried that they retain your passport for the whole cruise, but the whole system seems to work. The only criticism was the shuttle bus in Langkawi (though not sure if this is run by RCI). You pay for the shuttle and are given a numbered sticker – there are 5 coach buses acting as shuttles back and forth from the pier to the main shopping area. We found that the numbered stickers don’t mean anything, and passengers all attempt to crush onto the buses as they arrive. We tried to board 4 buses, but never got close, while people who’d only just got stickers barged their way on. We ended up asking for a refund and caught a taxi into town, but lost an hour of shore time. The shuttle system should be managed like the numbered tender tickets in Phuket, which works very well.
We got soft-drink packages for the boys, which was well worth it. Didn’t bother with drink packages ourselves, being light drinkers. Loved the onboard shopping – we waited until the last day and everything was heavily discounted. We missed most of the shows, except the ice-skating Ice Under the Big Top – which was brilliant.
Overall, this was a great experience. It's great to sample different destinations and decide if any warrant return visits (would only return to Penang). We’ve put a deposit on our next cruise and look forward to doing it all again!