We spent 3 nights in Shanghai pre-cruise at the Gran Melia Shanghai - beautiful opulent hotel on the Pudong river bank. Great views of the river, excellent service. On the morning of our cruise we strolled down to the river and imagine our surprise when we saw the Legend of the Seas docked directly opposite us! We knew that was where the Shanghai International Port Terminal was situated, but thought we would check in there and then be bussed to Baoshan. Luckily for us, on this particular sailing the Legend was allowed to dock at the Terminal itself. We later had opportunity to speak to the Captain who told us that this was only the second time this year that the Legend had been given clearance to dock there, and that on leaving the Port Terminal he had to negotiate his way around 400 vessels ( barges etc) on the Huangpu River to get to Baoshan. Some of them would not move, until the Legend shone a bright light directly at them! You would think if you were a small barge operator and saw a ship the size of the Legend coming at you, you would move away fairly fast!
Anyway, I digress. We caught a cab to the Port Terminal - inside was "organised chaos". Lots of forms to fill in. If you are visiting Asian ports take several photocopies of your passports - you will need them. We did not have copies and needed one for each of our ports, but we were able to get photocopies made there. Usual waiting, lining up, and we were able to board around 1 pm.
I found the Legend to be clean and well maintained. Staff were helpful and very pleasant. Our cabin was spacious and clean with a good sized balcony. Loved the evening entertainment each night - especially a very talented pianist by the name of Elizabeth who speaks Mandarin fluently and lots of other languages - a great show. We had been told this was an Asian immersion cruise which was fine with us - after all , we were visiting Asia! However we found the predominant language to be English - all the announcements were made only in English. There were plenty of bilingual staff available to translate if necessary, and I did see in the dining room the lunch menu I think was available in Mandarin, but otherwise things were pretty much as usual. The week before our cruise had been Chinese National week and apparently the Legend was 100% filled with Chinese cruisers, but on our sailing it was a good mix of different nationalities.
We were very fortunate to receive an invitation to dine at the Captain's table one night, and spent time chatting with him. Very interesting stories -he started as a 14 yo scrubbing the engine room floor and is now Captain of the Legend of the Seas. He was gracious enough to invite us to a tour of the Ship's bridge the following morning which was very interesting indeed. We had to have special security checks before entering the bridge area.
We had lunch in the dining room several days - a nice way to have lunch- great salad bar and menu. Our waiters at dinner were lovely and food was good.
Docking in Hong Kong was great- Harbour City is in the heart of Kowloon - you exit the ship and straight into a shopping centre - what else? in Hong Kong. All in all we had a thoroughly enjoyable cruise and enjoyed the ports we visited. Certainly a good way to see Asian cities.
Our 2 stops were Okinawa and Taipei - we chose to do ships tours at each port for ease of organisation. We took full day tours (8 hours ) at each port and found them to be very informative, comprehensive, and enjoyable. In hindsight I am very glad we decided to take the shore excursions. Our buses had English speaking guides - other buses had Chinese guides. In Okinawa we visited the Peace Memorial Park, Peace museum, the Underground Caves with stalactite formations, had a very traditional Japanese lunch,and of course some shopping. In Taipei our energetic guide taught us a lot of history of the region , and we visited Taipei 101, Taipei museum( absolutely wonderful), the war memorial, a Buddhist Temple and had lunch at the very grand Grand Palace. There is so much history in this region - we learnt a lot as well as having a lovely holiday.