Many friends and relatives had told us how wonderful cruising was, and being one who loves holidays, I thought a first cruise with a duration of five nights would be perfect.
As we were already holidaying in Asia, a roundtrip Singapore cruise seemed perfect. There were three ports, KL, Langkawi and Phuket.
Getting on the ship was a bit of an eyeopener. And an absolute drag. Signage was well placed, and Singapore cruise centre is very easy to get to on the MRT. Signs to the baggage drop were clear, but it was frantic at bacggage drop. People not in RCL uniform were very happy to grab the luggage from our hands and wave in some general direction indicating we havd to go somewhere else. After asking directly, we were shown to another area where we were asked to complete immigration clearance forms. This was a little confusing trying to figure the ports or call and the days we'd be there. After that (trying to find a space to complete them) we queued to receive out room cards. That was fairly quick, and given is was still 5 hours to sailing, and there was a fairly long queue to get on the ship, we elected to have a look at the shops at the Singapore cruise centre. Big mistake, we kept going back to the queue to find it justkept growing! in the end we just bit the bullet and lined up, waited about an hour to get through immigration and onto the ship. Of course, there are people who will attempt to push and shove, and this time it was a bunch of Uzbeks who were either unaware, or couldn't be bothered with patience.
Once on the Ship, and a quick check of the stateroom, we tried to fiond something to eat as with all the faffing around and stalling getting onto the ship, we'd not eaten since breakfast. Unfortunately, at 4pm, the buffet had just closed, and there was nothing else. We did spot a self serve soft serve icecream machine, but the hords of people pushing and shoving to get to it was a bit of a turn off.
Back to our nicely appointed stateroom to see our luggage had arrived, so we unpacked, and then had a bit of an explore around the ship. We went up to the Viking Lounge and ordered acocktail (not expensive) and feasted on the cherry and pineapple garnish,
As the ship left Singapore port, we had a great view of the industrial side of Singapore, it was really interesting. It was all a bit exciting, exploring the ship.
We had reserved for dinner the 8PM sitting in the Romeo and Juliet resturant. We were allocated a table with other westerners, and they were very pleasant. I was a little anxious about having to eat everynight with stangers, however there were lovely and interesting people. The food at R&J was beautiful. Three courses, not too little, not too much, just right. As a coeliac, I was a little concearned, however I chose dishes which did not appear to contain wheat flour. I did not mention my condition to the wait staff (hate being made a fuss of) and I did not have an adverse reaction to any of the food at all.
We went to the theatre after dinner to see the first show, it was really quite lame, girl and a guys doing acrobatics on a hoop.
Night sleep was fine, no swell whatsoever.
The following day was first port of call, KL. My wife went to book an excursion to a shopping centre in the suburbs, but it was booked out, so we stayed on the shipm(having previuously been to KL twice). All excursions were shopping, except one to Batu caves. Anyway, at breakfast, around 9am, the Windjammer resturant was mad. Most clientele were Asian Chinese, and their culture is quite different to western. They are more pushy and rarely queue for anything. However all patrons at the Buffet were a little overzelous at the abundance of 'free' food. It was quite a sight, people everywhere with plates piled high of food, sticky floors where food had dropped. Much of the food was aimed towards the asian clientele, and there was a lot of bread and pastries. Not good for a ceoliac. We could not find a spare table in what I';d call a circus, so i grabbed a small plate of cut fruit, and a boiled egg, and went outside the resturant to the pool area where there were overflow tables for the resturant. The next day for breakfast we went to the R&J resturant where we were meet with a peaceful atmposphere where breakfast was ordered off a menu. In addition, all the 'thin' people were in the R&J resturant, and we were placed on a table wit other westerners.
The day on the shi[p was great, swimming, relaxing, lunch at the buffet a bit made, but not as made as breakfast. Cocktails and drinks were ceap and staff were attentive, but not in your face.
The evening meal at R&J again was wonderful, and everynight was a highlight of the cruise, good food, good conversation with good people.
After dinner we checked out the show, and again, was a little lame. Three guys singing Nichael Buble style numbers. One of the guys was in television, General Hospital I think they said. Woopee. Didn;t make the show good! They were not bad singers, the show lacked energy. We left part way through.
The following day was Langkawi, and we woke as the ship steamed past the little islands with the most beautiful sunrise. Againbreakfast at the civilised R&J, and then off of the shuttle bus ($8) to the aquarium, where we had duty free shopping and free time. Shuttle returned every half hour, so we did some DF shopping for gifts, then went to the beach and spent mose of the day at the beach and checked out the beachside resorts.
Back to the ship mid afternoon fo a little swim and relax around the area they made cocktails!
We checked out the show before dinner, it was a Magic show. My thirteen year old loved it, and I am laughing now at the show. Not becasue it was good, but because it was a bit lame for me! Only because the 'International' Magician was an Aussie (thought I'd seen him at one of the RSL's!) who every time pulled something out of thin air, went to the back curtain, of which one a hand came out to give him a prop!! So funny in hindsight! However the trick where an audience member is raised was done very well, and the participant from the audience appeared to be a passenger and not a 'plant', Funny thing also, the 'Magician' was also a passenger enjoying the cruise with his partner and child!
The following day we were tendered at Phuket. There were a lot of excursions to choose from, we chose the sea kayaking. It was a very wearly start, but the most fantasticly organised excursion I have experience. There were many tenders going backwards and forwards to Patong beach, and Patong was absolutely buzzing with activity. it was a wonderful port of call.
That night I cannpot remember what the show was, I did not go becasue it read very 'lame'. Dinner was great, and the wait staff were very attentive and polite.
The following day there were no ports of call. There were visibly more people on the ship, but still many activities and many places to sit. Unfortunately the Chinese and Uzbecks did not respect the library is a quiet place and made a lot of noise. It appeared they were asked to quieten numerous times, but was short lived.
There was a small shopping arcade which did have good specials on from time to time. These were broadcast well in teh daily literature received in the stateroom outlining the days activities. Again, people were animals when it came to the $90 watch for $20. people were just grabbingoff the attendant when trying to restock, and some were piling up baskets with 6 to 10 boxes. In the end there were plenty left over, so not need to snatch and grab in the end.
The final show was finally a propper showstopping cabaret type of show. The theatre had reduced numbers fromnight to night, presumably due to the lamme shows. The final show was a drastic improvement, bit still missing some kind of sparkle. We have seen a lot of theatre, so perhaps we had grater expectations than what could be delivered, but it just wasn't great.
Getting off the ship was very well organised, I was quite impressed how groups around the ship were given allocated meeting areas and then allocated times to leave. We missed breakfast as it was an early morning disembarkation, but there was bread and pastries (not good for ceoliacs!) in each meeting area. Another queue off the ship through immigration and our cruise was over!
If I were to go on another cruise, I may or may not go with RCL, it woudldepend on the price. I would not take another asian cruise, I think this particular cruise pandered a little too much to the asian clientelle. by this I mean promoting the Casino and bingo. Every announcment was made in english and chinese, even though only 25% of the cruise patrons were chinese (there was a presentation where nationalities numbers were given).
So now, for those who donot want to read a review much too long:
Reasonable price compared to Star Cruises
Almost all food is inclusive, drinks are cheap
Very good ports of call
Sea very calm
Stateroom well appointed, plenty of storage
Rock climbing (but only open a few hours)
Enbarkation takes too long
Geared more towards chinese patrons
Very little participation by 12 - 14 year olds for teen club
So there you are, obviously not many con's, therefore worth the money and worth putting up with different groups who may be a little annoying. After all, the ship is a representation of prople you woudl meet elsewhere off away from a cruise.