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285 Asia Romantic Cruise Reviews

Fantastic cruise. Meet some lovely people of all ages (no raging teenagers luckily). Princess had a huge range of activities to do each day which we found fabulous. Their organisation of tenders, getting on and off the boat and the ... Read More
Fantastic cruise. Meet some lovely people of all ages (no raging teenagers luckily). Princess had a huge range of activities to do each day which we found fabulous. Their organisation of tenders, getting on and off the boat and the checking in and out was great. Must add too that cruise critic was invaluable for us as first time cruisers. Staff were professional and helpful. Shows at night were awesome. everything was there that we needed. Shopping was a bit expensive on board for us but great that it is offered. We did the South East Asia cruise and each port was well worth it. We mainly organised private tours or went on tours with cruise critic passengers which I think is the way to go. Loved the princess patter each day and the amount of information given was fantastic so all queries were answered via the patter. Something for everyone. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
This was a maiden voyage for Celebrity for these destinations. The cruise started in Abu Dhabi with 2 days in Dubai, 4 sea days, New Mangalore, Goa, Mumbai, 2 sea days, Oman, Abu Dhabi. Dubai is a fascinating city with awesome ... Read More
This was a maiden voyage for Celebrity for these destinations. The cruise started in Abu Dhabi with 2 days in Dubai, 4 sea days, New Mangalore, Goa, Mumbai, 2 sea days, Oman, Abu Dhabi. Dubai is a fascinating city with awesome architecture. This would have been a five star review except for the port of New Mangalore which was a complete bust. We were told that this port will be removed from future cruises. At least Celebrity learned from this experience and, after all, it was a maiden voyage. I hope the person who arranged this port doesn't get fired. The ports of Goa and Bombay were OK but nothing special. We really needed longer times in both for a better experience. Hopefully dropping New Mangalore will provide an additional day in Bombay. We were unable to get into Oman because of high winds. Cudos to the captain for keeping us safe...no heroics. However, we then beelined for Abu Dhabi when most passengers would rather have taken a leisurely sail instead. We arrived early in the afternoon at the port of AD but were unable to disembark to explore, much to the chagrin of everyone. The Aqua Class balcony was great and Blu restaurant was excellent as usual. We also did the Chef's dinner for $120.00 which is our favorite activity and never disappoints. Room steward and waiters were spot on the entire cruise. Entertainment was excellent also. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
This is our first cruise on Celebrity Millenium having sailed previously mainly on Royal Carribean International (RCI) My husband and I have not been to Bali, Phuket and Penang for many years and this was a cruise to reacquaint ... Read More
This is our first cruise on Celebrity Millenium having sailed previously mainly on Royal Carribean International (RCI) My husband and I have not been to Bali, Phuket and Penang for many years and this was a cruise to reacquaint ourselves with these interesting destinations. Our embarkation was rather quick since we were Platinum members from RCI and within 30 minutes we were on the ship. We had lunch at the Metropolitan Main Dining Room while waiting for our cabin to be ready. We were booked on Concierge class and had a lovely balcony cabin on Deck 8. Our cabin attendant, Jolexson from India did an excellent job of keeping our cabin clean for the next 12 days. We enjoyed the complimentary sparkling wine in our cabin. We were also provided with afternoon hors d'oeuvres as part of our cabin package. Overall we enjoyed the cruise as everything went smoothly. The food in general was excellent except for a few misses. We enjoyed the New York Sirloin Steak in the Main Dining Room in particular as it was well seasoned and done just right. We also liked the complimentary ice-cream in the Ocean View Cafe. Our favourite flavours were strawberry, rum and raisin and we always looked forward to our evening ice-cream served by a friendly smiling Balinese waitress, Dewa. Even though we had Select Dining, we chose to dine every night at Table 164 as we enjoyed the fantastic service from Raynold, our waiter and Raphael, his assistant, both from the Philippines. We also enjoyed chatting with Marcus, the Assistant Maitre'D from Dominican Republic. For our breakfasts and lunches, we generally dined at the Ocean View Cafe where they had a wide variety of Asian and Western food. Some days there were Italian, Greek cuisine coupled with Vietnamese, Malaysian, Indonesian food. So there were lots of variety of food to choose from. We met a few of the senior officers - Steve, Cruise Director from Canada, Captain George from Greece, Bosco the Hotel Director and Ante, the F&B Director. We also had the opportunity to do a galley tour of the kitchen, a backstage tour of the theatre and best of all, a bridge tour to see how the ship is navigated. We had a wine appreciation course conducted by the Head Sommelier where we sampled 4 types of wine. The entertainment of the ship was good overall with enthusiatic performances by the Celebrity Millennium dancers, singers and orchestra. I also particularly enjoyed a sizzling performance by Monique Dehaney, a Jamaican singer who could surprisingly sing a Chinese song. In the mornings, I went to do a free stretch class in the gym on Deck 10 conducted on alternate days by Jay from Kenya and Reno from Serbia. The gym and spa were managed by Canyon Ranch Spa. Unfortunately the Zumba classes which were normally free on other cruises were chargeable. The gym was rather crowded especially in the mornings and the stretch classes were very busy. I tried the Sole energiser classes using a spikey plastic ball on my feet. This is not so easy and takes getting used to. These balls were also on sale for US$69. As for the ports of call, in Bali, I hired Wismu, a Balinese driver who drove us to Sukarwati, Denpasar and Kuta Beach. In Phuket, we tried the Tuk-Tuk and checked out Jung-Ceylon, a huge mall about 15 minutes away. I enjoyed an excellent Pad Thai with fresh coconut drink in the food court found in the basement. Our time in Penang was rather short as the Malaysian port officers only allowed one gangway to be opened. This caused massive long queues just to get off the ship. We waited at least 50 minutes for our turn to get off the ship. It was almost lunch time so we took the free city bus to Komtar, a huge mall about 20 minutes away. It was also linked to Pelangi Mall and 1st Avenue by a bridge. We did not get off Port Klang as we had been to Kuala Lumpur many times before. Overall we enjoyed ourselves and look forward to future cruises with Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
We chose the Aramara journey because we wanted a luxury holiday to celebrate our 70th birthday and we thought that Azamara would be a luxury trip. The prices are certainly luxury. The first disappointment was the cabin, especially ... Read More
We chose the Aramara journey because we wanted a luxury holiday to celebrate our 70th birthday and we thought that Azamara would be a luxury trip. The prices are certainly luxury. The first disappointment was the cabin, especially the bathroom. My husband couldn't get in the shower and the cabin was very small. As it was a very rough crossing we had to spend a lot of time in the cabin. the engine noise was right outside the our cabin and it was noisy all night and day and prevented us sleeping. I did ask to be moved but was told there was nothing available except the cabin opposite which had the same noise problem. The lack of tea and coffee in the room was inconvenient although you could request this and wait for it to be delivered. As we weren't sleeping this would have helped if it had been in the room. The entertainment was dire. I have never seen such rubbish and we stopped going to any concerts. The entertainments officer Eric was brilliant although his staff left a lot to be desired especially the DJ. The food was faultless although as the trip was very rough a lot of the passengers didn't make it to the dining room. We couldn't use the pool a lot of the time and I think that the ship struggling in the rough weather partly due to its small size. The staff were courteous even when a lot of them were sea sick and we were very impressed with al of them. I would never choose an old ship like this again and it has certainly put me off cruising. What was supposed to be a treat ended up as an ordeal and we were very disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Chose the cruise as part of a holiday that included a pre cruise land tour of Vietnam and Cambodia. The ship was tired and in need of a lot of refurbishment, especially the cabins on deck 7 where the balcony door frames had all rusted ... Read More
Chose the cruise as part of a holiday that included a pre cruise land tour of Vietnam and Cambodia. The ship was tired and in need of a lot of refurbishment, especially the cabins on deck 7 where the balcony door frames had all rusted out. The restaurant was very busy but the waiters were terrific but some of the bar staff all around the ship were arrogant and unfriendly. The entertainment was average and depended a lot on the ships singers and dancers (who were all excellent!) but visiting acts were mediocre. The activities director could be seen on the TV every day but there was not enough personal contact to inform and encourage guests to partake in activities. Lectures were very average. Overall quite disappointing cruise but friends made on the land tour continued to make the cruise enjoyable. A closer look of the actual ship when booking another cruise would have to be done! Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
OVERVIEW We booked this as a fly, tour, cruise package with an Australian travel company. We have cruised more than 30 times, we had not sailed with Azamara previously.. We have cruised with sister lines Royal Carribbean and Celebrity, ... Read More
OVERVIEW We booked this as a fly, tour, cruise package with an Australian travel company. We have cruised more than 30 times, we had not sailed with Azamara previously.. We have cruised with sister lines Royal Carribbean and Celebrity, consequently next logical step, we thought, was the next level up, so we expected, was the Azamara experience. Well were our expectations met or exceeded, not even close, it was very disappointing indeed! Worst ever experience for embarkation, Concierge at the Crowne Plaza in Chennai was aggressive and would not speak to our tour group members to ensure we did not have to wait for the two and a half hours she delayed us while she processed all other non tour group members. End result everyone in our tour group 77 Aussies and 80 Brits were so angry with her behaviour and lack of concern for us most of whom had been awake for over twelve hours prior to entering the hotel. She needs lessons on how to respect passengers and who pays the bills and her wages indirectly. She needs training and demotion to learn how to treat people nicely!! SHIP First impressions of the ship were quite positive. It has old world charm, extensive use of quality timber fittings throughout, it being an ex Renaissance ship having a touch of class was the expectation. Apart for being a bit weathered its appearance is still appealing. We were a little underwhelmed by the lack of atmosphere and activities, and music throughout the day and night, and lack of activities to stop us becoming bored, especially on sea days. The dining room does has atmosphere, is charming, and is a pleasure to dine in! Public areas are few and shops are sparse, there are two only, with limited goods to peruse. There is no bottle shop to purchase duty free goods, nor is there a theatre, just an entertainment lounge. CABIN Cabin was spacious, has been refurbished, pleasant decor, new balcony furniture, average cupboard space to hang clothes, odd bedside tables, ample drawer space. Nice timber finish retained, and enhanced by new decor and artwork. Horrible shower curtain, adequate only storage, rather small overall. Koningsdam, fantastic bathroom, Solstice not far behind, both have glass sliding shower doors and are spacious. Overall cabin on Journey is acceptable, Koningsdam and Solstice are the best cabins we have experienced! DINING and DRINKS Coffee was awful at coffee shop, it was strange as it was good for the first 3 days. Lev 9 Cafe/bistro, each day 3 main meals and roast occasionally, it is 3 star the food was mostly dry and tasteless almost! They need to transform it and make it a 5 star bistro it certainly is not for lunch and dinner. Breakfast the two times we attended was reasonably good, eggs, and omelettes were made to order and taken to your table. Gelato bar was also good at lunch and dinner. The patio outside Windows bistro was good for lunch, very nice burgers, we ate inside however as the flies and heat were excessive. The Restaurant was very good, had charm, great fillet mignon, surf and turf, venison, soups, however very poor caserole, very tough, and Turkish meals presented like a take away meal, terrible. Desserts on the whole were picture perfect, and most tasted as good as they looked. Included alcoholic drinks well bottom of the basement in all categories, no brandy, no liquors such as Baileys and Cointreau, beer 3 only 2 from the US and 1 German, 2 reds and 2 whites wines, some were acceptable, bottom level spirits/cocktails, Azamara we paid for a 5 star package, provide a 5 star package please, not a 3 star package. Sunset bar closed at 9 pm most nights and only the Casino bar was open after that, except the bar near the restaurant was open until restaurant finished, which was not late. Pool bar only bar open in the day time. Other bars open after 5 pm. Room service was good, we had breakfast twice and other meals, prompt and nice food, and not cold! ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES Entertainment provided was poor. There were 2 solo make artists who interchanged for later afternoon performances between the Living Room at the top front of the ship and the bar near the Casino. No music early afternoon and no duos, trios or string quartets. The make artists were hotel artists only, not good enough! Australian ladysinger and lady comedy act were good. Activities man was good Cruise Director is not enthusiastic ans needs to look for another job. SERVICE Cabin stewards were great, clean rooms serviced usually early on most days, friendly staff and efficient. Bar and wait staff were very good, nothing was too much trouble, we were impressed with most of them. PORTS and EXCURSIONS Chennai was not a great experience over exhuberent Indian officials that checked our passports 4 times on the way to the ship and on the ship was over the top, so they want people to visit their country or do they not! Andaman Island was filthy and disgusting, and what a stink, phew! We took the free bus to the town walked around for 10 minutes, as did most people and went back to the ship, cannot see why they stop there, shocking! Yangon is a city that is growing fast, is clean, safe, historical and we may return one Penang and KL are clean, safe and easy to walk around we thought we would return in future. Celebrity/Solstice is our favourite ship, it has so many activities, real grass on top of the ship, glass blowing, great food, great entertainment, atmosphere is amazing, has it all! Azamara must improve to even be close to Celebrity, it is not a 5 star line, maybe 3.75 star for most of the ship, not the bistro it is 3 star! Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Wanting to discover Vietnam was the main agenda point for us ,but at the same time adressing other sites in Asia. Silversea was selected based upon the above plus its reputation. They did not disappoint us . At Singapore embarkation was ... Read More
Wanting to discover Vietnam was the main agenda point for us ,but at the same time adressing other sites in Asia. Silversea was selected based upon the above plus its reputation. They did not disappoint us . At Singapore embarkation was extremely effective giving us a first good impression and the manner in which we were treated showed us welcome in every manner. The cabin was spotlessly clean and the butler introduced us to the cabin and the facilities and our expectations of what was available. Throughout the voyage the butler was an intregal part of the experience. He was excellent and a good ambassador for Silversea. There attention to detail was outstanding and demonstrated how high the customer service and focus on delivery to its customers was. Dining was in our opinion excellent in every sense of the word. Whether it was morning breakfast in the cabin or late night snacks it was a first class. The restaurants and the menues were excellent and it displayed a wide range of selection. The entertainment on board we found was professional and the staff engagement was awesome. Customer service is always in the mind of a company and to strive for the pinnacle is something that requires in achieving that excellence. The staff were amazing, they displayed warmth and secereity throughout the total cruise. Their total engagement in ensuring quality towards us was truly noted by us. Can they be better? Shore excursions was of a high quality and they ensured that they could deliver a high standard. Even the shuttle service was carefully thought through. I wanted to do a private trip in the DaNang/Hoi An area we decided to do a private trip with a local and must say he met our demands and was a good. Andyhoiantours.com. Overall this was a value for money experience and certainly met all our demands in excellence, good teamwork, efficiency, safety and security, focus on delivering a good customer experience. Would we sail with them again? Definately yes Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Our trip is from Singapore - Port Klang (Malaysia) - Phuket (Thailand) - SIngapore. The embarkation on the first day is a bit disappointment. They delayed about 3 hours. We had to wait in big waiting hall, with only drinking water and ... Read More
Our trip is from Singapore - Port Klang (Malaysia) - Phuket (Thailand) - SIngapore. The embarkation on the first day is a bit disappointment. They delayed about 3 hours. We had to wait in big waiting hall, with only drinking water and no food (from 11.30am to 2.30pm). After we get inside, the service is very nice. The staff are friendly and very helpful. Stateroom is cleaned twice a day. The cabin is clean, corridor is clean, everything is clean in this ship. There is always a place to eat in this cruise 24/7 for free. They have 3 restaurant we can visit. 2 of them are more formal, while the windjammer is buffet style. The food is good, but too many Indian food. You will never feel hungry in this cruise. The entertainment & activities is pretty good, they have theater, movie studio, ice-skating, mini golf, swimming pool, and so much more. They also have casino and stores. For a first timer cruise, we need a lot of information, and the staff are very friendly to help. But sometime, the guest service is very busy, so many people in line waiting their turn. Overall, this is a very good holiday for us. There are always a bit disappointment here and there, but still perfectly fine and acceptable. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Embarkation: Was very smooth and organised. We arrived at 10:45 and were in the Horizon Buffet at 12:30. Check-in staff was very polite and inviting. Our rooms were ready soon after. Stateroom: Was on the Emerald deck aft, with a large ... Read More
Embarkation: Was very smooth and organised. We arrived at 10:45 and were in the Horizon Buffet at 12:30. Check-in staff was very polite and inviting. Our rooms were ready soon after. Stateroom: Was on the Emerald deck aft, with a large balcony. The room was very tidy and clean and shortly after our Steward Rex came and introduced himself. He is very conscientious about his work and had our ice bucket filled every day. The bed and pillows were very comfortable and the closet was very large, shower is small with a curtain, we made due. Staff: Were the best. They couldn't do enough for us.Greetings and smiles all the time. They work hard and deserve our utmost respect. In the Horizon Buffet, we mention Andrijana Nad, a beautiful, charming and hard-working young lady from Serbia. She stands out as our favorite server in the morning. 10/10 The entire staff was however very competent. Tables were cleared very quickly and they would get us anything we wanted (tomato juice etc). Guests; 50% Asian, large group of Australians. Others were mostly from USA, UK, and Canada. The ship: is beautiful, nice size, many bars and restaurants. It is however dated a bit (hot tubs do not work well, need replacing as well as the leather worn chairs in the theater. The crew works very hard maintaining it well. The layout is a bit confusing at first. Use level 7 to get from one end to the other. Food: In the dining room Santa Fe, we enjoyed our meals there, superb service and perfect portion sizes. We also had dinner a few times in the Horizon Court, lots of variety of entrees and deserts. All very tasty and perfect for us. Entertainment:The production shows were excellent and (except for the 1st- a little too contemporary for us), and Bravo being the best. We also enjoyed Chris Watkins,Tommy Proulx, Aiden and Evelyn, Monique Dehaney and Dream Zone. Musicians on board were all fabulous. Lee Childers, the cruise director did a very good job entertaining us. The ship's Captain Todd McBain kept us informed everyday of the weather, the ports of call, all in a very calm fashion. Thank you Captain! We would like to mention the first Princess Patter. Great idea to list all entertaining guests and musicians on board. !!! Ports: Singapore: Stayed there 4 days prior to the cruise. What a beautiful city-lush and green everywhere. People are very friendly and helpful. A good blend of old and modern. We did the Hop-on Hop-off and visited the entire city and surroundings. Went up the Marina Sands Hotel for a drink. What an amazing hotel!!! Visited Chinatown twice and Clark Quay-beautiful but expensive. Very hot and humid. Do carry water with you at all times. The metro system is easy to use. Bangkok: We took a ship tour to Pattaya-Sanctuary of Truth. It is huge, ornately carved of teak, situated oceanfront. Amazing and all hand-carved by mostly women. A must to see. Later, we had 1.5 hour for shopping. We would have liked to shop in a local market instead of a large modern mall. We feel that we would have helped the local economy more by purchasing their hand-made wares!! Good tour and reasonably priced. Ho Chi Minh: This city is far from the port. We didn't want the long hot 2 hours drive to the city. My husband took the free shuttle to a little town shopping area close to the pier and walked around some. He returned early and said he enjoyed his time there. Hong Kong:This is a HUGE city with thousand of skyscrapers. We opted for the cruise tour: Hop-on Hop-off. The shuttle brings us to the Ferry Pier where we board our bus. We did the red and green line in the one day. Price of 58$ also included tickets for the tram up the Peak and a Sampan ride (small chinese boat) at Aberdeen stop. Returned to ship at 5pm. Very good day! Beautiful skyline at night. Shanghai: We took a ship tour to visit a Temple, Garden and local market. Our guide was very good, organized and time went fast as we visited and admired so much. Busan: My husband took a half-day ship tour to visit a Temple (many steps-I don't do steps) followed by more shopping... He enjoyed the tour. Nagasaki: We docked close to the city. We walked around for a few hours. It was raining and gloomy. An OK port. Beijing: We arranged our own transfer to our hotel in the city and stayed there 4 days. We booked a day tour with Viator ( Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and the Great Wall). A very long day but super interesting and amazing sights. We walked around a lot (The hutong), shopping street close to our hotel. Enjoyed this busy city. Again, this is a very large city, with much traffic. Takes some time to get used to the Chinese pace of life. All in all, this was an superb cruise and Princess delivered well. We will not hesitate to cruise again with them. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This was our fourth relatively long cruise aboard a HAL ship. The general hotel function was fantastic as usual with good food and very friendly/helpful staff. Our Vista Suite with verandah was kept neat, tidy and clean by hard working but ... Read More
This was our fourth relatively long cruise aboard a HAL ship. The general hotel function was fantastic as usual with good food and very friendly/helpful staff. Our Vista Suite with verandah was kept neat, tidy and clean by hard working but very friendly stewards. Evening shows were in general highly entertaining. However, the services/prices on board had declined, e.g. no longer any lectures during sea days, Pinnacle restaurant extra price was suddenly $ 35 instead of the customary $ 20, bar prices even increased by $ 1 during this cruise and appetizers were not of the type that should go with drinks. Prices for excursions had become absurdly high. The gravy on any cruise is the approach and arrival in ports during (early) morning daylight hours but on this cruise and all too often we were already tied up at quays before dawn. The so called "Hotel service charges" are hidden extra costs and should be included in the advertized overall cruise price. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
The inside cabin was a bit small compared to other ships we have been on. They could never regulate the air conditioning even though they tried to fix it, they never could. The ship was always cold and most of the passengers were sick ... Read More
The inside cabin was a bit small compared to other ships we have been on. They could never regulate the air conditioning even though they tried to fix it, they never could. The ship was always cold and most of the passengers were sick with sniffles and coughs and the Asian flu. Going from very hot humid weather to freezing cold was ridiculous. The crew and staff were great. The entertainment was mediocre. The food was good as was the service in the dining room. Our waiters were very friendly and went beyond to please us. The ports were excellent. We did most of our excursions off the ship as they were pricey on the ship. These were done prior to boarding. There could have been more activities. The ones offered were okay. The areas where some of the shows were held were small and did not hold very many people. This needs to be planned out better so that more people can attend the entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This is not our first cruise with RCCL but tis is the worst.customer service was unprofessional did not meet our needs out of 4000 passengers there were only 15 international yet the shore excursions we only for 15 english speaking and ... Read More
This is not our first cruise with RCCL but tis is the worst.customer service was unprofessional did not meet our needs out of 4000 passengers there were only 15 international yet the shore excursions we only for 15 english speaking and was sold out the north star is a waste of time and money we were left stranded at airport because we were the only one who brought transfer cost us over 150 on bus and taxi to get to pier on time customer service did not want to deal with any issues the food was horrible room service charge for eggs pancakes they nickel and dime you to death the shops on board were all over priced compared to use the room was very nice but too many negatives to sleep well they offered less for more money the entertainment was not as good as other cruises i know it was mainly for the local but they could have shown some consideration for the international that travel that far to be disappointedThis was our 48 th anniversary happy anniversary to us Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
DW and I are in our mid 50's who enjoy cruising. While nothing is ever perfect and pristine, especially if one chooses to focus on negativity, we are generally take things in stride as we feel blessed in the fact that we can enjoy the ... Read More
DW and I are in our mid 50's who enjoy cruising. While nothing is ever perfect and pristine, especially if one chooses to focus on negativity, we are generally take things in stride as we feel blessed in the fact that we can enjoy the luxury of cruising. Now onto our cruise. We arrived in Tokyo 3 days before embarkation and had a marvellous time. Japanese people are so wonderful, very polite and helpful. Tokyo is very clean and with a fantastic transportation system that is easy to use and inexpensive. We stayed at the Grand Central Hotel, which is very well located, about a 10 minute walk to Kanda Station on the Ginza Line. Room was very small, but that is typical for most Japanese hotels, especially if you are on a budget. On embarkation day, we took the train to Yokohama and arrived in plenty of time with very little effort (we only had two large pieces of luggage to drag around). Embarkation was delayed to 12pm due to the late arrival of Millie, but once it started we got onboard fairly quickly and were enjoying lunch in the Oceanview buffet by 12:30. Ports of call were fantastic, with the exception of Shanghai. Aside from Visa issues with visiting Shanghai and a late docking due to the port being closed due to high winds from a passing typhoon, the port is quite far from the Bund and other tourist attractions. Also, some taxi drivers were very dishonest, we were literally taken for a ride. We shared a taxi with another couple for a ride to the Bund, which should cost $85CNY, but the driver took the outer ring road and by the time we got to the Bund the meter was at $280CNY! We later learned that we were not the only victims, as there were at least a dozen other passengers who were victimized. So be careful when travelling in Shanghai. The entertainment on board was quite good, we enjoyed the shows and were appreciative of the efforts of the Celebrity dancers and singers. We had dinner in the MDR and the food was very good, as was the service. Kudos to our waiter Sanjaya, his assistant Supana, our sommelier Miroslav and drink waiter Prince. All were very good and attentive to our needs. Disembarkation was a challenge for most people at the new Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong. Beautiful terminal, but very poor taxi service, fortunately we booked our taxis in advance. All in all, we had a wonderful time. Millie is showing her age, and yes there is rust showing in some spots, including our balcony and at times it is very difficult to find a seat in the Oceanview buffet, but the staff is very friendly. Captain Nicholas was very visible throughout the cruise, cruise director Steve was fantastic and of course Café al Bacio is a terrific place to sit and have a nice specialty coffee and/or tea along with wonderful desserts and sweets. This is our first cruise on an M class ship. While we prefer the S class ship (Reflection is our favorite), we would not hesitate to book another cruise on Millie. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
My husband and I are fairly new to cruising holidays. We have cruised with MSC, Carnival and Norwiegn. We chose RC mainly for the itinary and we thought we would be fine with RC having heard good reviews about them. WRONG!! Believe ... Read More
My husband and I are fairly new to cruising holidays. We have cruised with MSC, Carnival and Norwiegn. We chose RC mainly for the itinary and we thought we would be fine with RC having heard good reviews about them. WRONG!! Believe me...this is the worst cruise there is going. Every aspect was a total joke! Embarkation was lengthy, apparently you need a copy of your passport before you checkin...first queue of many! When we did finally get on board, we were told lunch was only available in the canteen restaurant. Oh my goodness, it was awful. The staff were so uninterested...we found a table eventually and it had mess all over it. I looked round for a waiter and the nearest one was stood looking out the window in a daze! I called him over and signaled that the table needed to be cleared! The service was non existent....the food was awful. Poor choice and of very poor quality. Whether you chose fish, meat or chicken, it was always dry and well over cooked. The main restaurant experience was dreadful. There was always a queue to get in, whether you've booked a table or not, you still had to queue. There were never tables for two available. I don't think we ever went to the restaurant without an argument of some sort. On the first evening we were shown to our table and I was hit straight away by an awful smell. Our waiter came over to us and apologized for the smell...he said they had had a leak from the ceiling and it had soaked into the carpet where our table was. The smell was awful. And it went down hill from there. The ship itself is horrible. Not only the layout of the ship...it's also very dated and shabby. Our balcony had lots of rust coming through the paint and the wooden rail of the balcony hadn't seen a coat of varnish for years! The toilets weren't particularly clean. The pool deck was shabby and dated. The bars weren't very efficient either. Every Pina Colada we ordered was different from the last. We enjoy trivia quizzes...on this ship they were just terrible! They always coincided with other events that were going on on the Promenade deck, which meant you could hear the questions! Not only that, they only seemed to have one set of questions because every quiz we went to, they were repeating the same questions! It was ridiculous! All the staff were hopeless. It felt like this was the very first cruise RC have ever done. A bunch of monkeys could have done a better job! The list of horrors is endless...I'm sure I've put you in the picture. We complained the entire cruise along with most of the other passengers. Needless to say, this was our first cruise with Royal Caribbean and most certainly our last! Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This was our first time cruising on Princess Cruises and we were drawn initially to this particular itinerary because of the attractive option of a B2B that would have us embarking/disembarking at Fremantle with a 28-day cruise in between ... Read More
This was our first time cruising on Princess Cruises and we were drawn initially to this particular itinerary because of the attractive option of a B2B that would have us embarking/disembarking at Fremantle with a 28-day cruise in between - how many times do you hear anyone raving about the flying part of their holiday! We have only ever cruised with Celebrity in the past, and even then, not that many times. So we are relatively new to cruising and don't have that much experience to make comparisons anyway. Anyway, we think comparing the two would be like apples and oranges anyway, with both pitched and priced at differing sectors of the market. Embarkation at Fremantle went as smoothly as could be hoped, we think mainly because we had stuck to our pre-arranged arrival time. On and having an explore around the ship in around thirty minutes. Even without any welcome drinks, we felt there could have been a bit more enthusiasm and staff for that initial greeting, but we were soon off discovering/getting lost on our new home away from home. We had opted for an inside cabin, up the front on Caribe deck - more details on this in the cabin review. This was already available for us from the time we got onboard. Introductions with our ninja steward Edgar (and his fellow 'shadow' steward Edgar II down the corridor) out of the way, and we were unpacked and ready for the lifeboat drills and sailaway before we knew it. Because of a rather last-minute booking, we had no choice but to accept second sitting dining (there is no 'anytime' dining on Princess out of Australia), and as it turned out, this ended up suiting us just fine. On port days, it meant there was no rush to get back onboard, and let's face it, on sea days, if you don't think you can last until 7:45 in the evening before you can have dinner, there are many options to 'load up' around the ship to keep you going. On the whole, we were very impressed with the standard and choices of food available for all meals, from breakfast through to dinner. One of the obvious things that can't be avoided is the fact that you are going to see the same cycle of menus come around again on a B2B, but on a positive note, that actually had us looking forward to some of the highlights from the first time through (definitely chilled fruit soup in a glass converts now!). Other reviews have commented on the availability of seats in the buffet (not just on this ship, or indeed Princess), but there's an obvious easy answer to that. Structure your days so that you have that glorious long lay-in and then lo-and-behold, you're turning up for your meals two hours after everyone else. Whilst they are not yet sweeping up around your feet, you'll have no problems finding a table wherever your favourite spot turns out to be. Afternoon tea was a bit of a let-down, as we thought it would have been more appropriate to have at least two or three types of tea available, and those in a pot that could have been left at the table - instead it was just tea or coffee. Seemed to us to be a severe lack of speciality restaurants- maybe just on this class of ship. The only one with a pay-per-use, was The Steakhouse, which turned out to be a section of the buffet 'converted' after the luncheon rush in a part of the main buffet area. We didn't use this offering, so can't really comment, but feel if you are going to have a cover charge, there should be a definite unique permanent venue for those special occasions. Cafe Corniche, the pizza venue, seemed to be much under-utilised and we weren't sure if this was because it a little bit tucked out of the way, or if people thought there was a cover charge, or what. Nevertheless, the pizzas were superb and many a day they got us through to dinner without filling us up. Neither of us are big drinkers and after the initial onslaught of spruiking drinks or wine tasting packages, we were left to our own devices, and all of the venues had the option of pour your own water or served by the waiters. There was very little hard sell once everyone had realised we were more than happy with just having plain old water. That's not to say we didn't fall off the wagon for a drink or two occasionally, and Princess still have their two separate happy hours where the second drink is only one dollar - doesn't that cheaper one always taste that much better! As mentioned, this was a back to back and even though we were expecting it, didn't the demographic change once the second cruise leg commenced in Singapore! On came all of the school children, not in their hoards by any means, but enough to mean your tranquil morning laps in the pool were now a thing of the past. Princess does have a children's club, but it was pretty obvious that some of the older kids had exhausted the options and were board with this after the first few days. One big dampener as a result of this, was the two main pools had to be drained on three separate occasions, which the captain and crew apologised for, but had no control over (perhaps better supervision of the pool areas after the first instance may have prevented a repeat). Entertainment was a little bit hit and miss for both legs of the trip. Again, we were expecting the main shows to be repeated, so used our imagination there and watched them from opposite sides of the theatre on each occasion. When are cruise lines going to realise that hypnotists are not that entertaining - unless they have comedy talents too. The party band changed over at Singapore, and if we were to be brutally honest, any one of the karaoke singers could have covered for their vocal efforts, which was a shame as we would have liked to put some of the dance lessons (taught by the wonderful Jodie) into practice. Perhaps it would have sounded better if we had been drinking! Singers and comedians were well up to scratch and were usually worth a second show visit. We've heard comments about getting to the theatre early to ensure you get a seat; only relevant for the first shows, as second performances always had spare capacity (another advantage of second seating dining). We did our own at ports of call and where we wanted to see more of the surrounding areas, had pre-arranged tours with other like-minded souls on Cruise Critic. Can't comment on ship's tours other than the usual that they appeared to be very expensive. Still can't get over the scam that is Vietnam/Cambodia visa charges (for Australians). We had done these ports previously, so were intending to just stay onboard. As many already know out there, it matters not a jot and you'll still get stung! There goes what little OBC we already had. Out of protest, went ashore anyway and re-confirmed we'll be looking for itineraries that avoid these countries until our two governments can sort something out! With both cruise itineraries joined together, this is a fantastic way to experience a broad 'sample' of south east Asia in the one go. Grab it if you can! We made many a good friend on our shore excursions and an honorary mention to Nyoman Ariasa of BaliIslandTours wouldn't go amiss. Nothing was too much trouble for him and he provided an excellent, value for money service for our Bali stopover. To sum up... did we have a good time and will we cruise Princess again? Yes on both counts. It was great value for money all up, and seeing as it doesn't appear to be that hard to claw your way up the loyalty ladder - up to Ruby even after just one more cruise - we'll be back for more in the future. It would be great to see a newer class of ship in Australian waters, but that might be something we'll have to wait for, or head off to Europe instead. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Our 30th wedding anniversary cruise had been 18 months in the planning, and it was well worth the wait! We chose Sea Princess for this cruise as we had fond memories of our very first cruise aboard her, and she was leaving from our home ... Read More
Our 30th wedding anniversary cruise had been 18 months in the planning, and it was well worth the wait! We chose Sea Princess for this cruise as we had fond memories of our very first cruise aboard her, and she was leaving from our home port, Fremantle. We also were keen on the itinerary as it visited some ports we had been to previously, but included some new ones for us to experience. Embarkation: This was a little slower than previously, and the time schedule given in advance for boarding seemed to bear no resemblance to what actually took place. Having said that, we were on holiday, so who really cared! Stateroom: We chose a balcony in Baja deck and were very satisfied again. Please note my comments below. Dining: We mainly used the MDR for dinner, and the Horizon for breakfast and lunch. The standard of food again was excellent. Because the cruise was, in effect, two separate cruises back-to-back the MDR menu was repeated in the second leg of the journey, but this allowed us to try a variety of dishes from the same menu. Special mention needs to be made of the Ultimate Balcony Dinner which was a real treat and one we would highly recommend. Entertainment and activities: We enjoyed MUTS, although we felt the range of movies was somewhat limited, and the stateroom TV options also were not as expansive as previously experienced on other Princess ships. The piano shows in the atrium were excellent and the art auctions were interesting and well supported, although there did seem to be more of these than on previous cruises. We made daily use of the gym and really enjoyed the facilities. Service: The stateroom steward, Kenneth, was very professional. He was right on the ball, very efficient without being intrusive, and responded quickly and happily to any requests we made. Our MDR waiters, Lohita, Denchai and Angelito also gave excellent service and added to the pleasant dining experience. Ports and shore excursions: We chose carefully which ports we would visit (not ones serviced by the tender boats) and used Princess organised tours at two of those. Penang: We did the Royal Selangor Pewter, Spice Farm, and the butterfly farm, Entropia. We would really recommend this tour! It was interesting, informative and good value. We had visited Penang previously independently, but this tour gave us a fresh look at the island and piqued our desire to visit again. Singapore: We did this independently and visited Sentosa Island. The highlight here was the cable car around the island, giving us a wonderful overview. Again, we will need to pay another visit now to explore further! Ho Chi Minh City: Our first time in Vietnam and we thoroughly enjoyed it! We did the organised tour to the lacquerware factory plus a city tour including time at the markets, and two hours in Dong Khoi Street to shop independently. Again, we would thoroughly recommend this tour. The guides on each of the Princess tours were very articulate and informative. Bangkok (Laem Chabang): We took the shuttle to Pattaya as it was much closer than Bangkok. We enjoyed a day at leisure in Pattaya at the mega shopping mall, and the highlight there was trying the Thai equivalent of a laksa in an authentic Thai restaurant where no one spoke English! The resulting meal was fiery hot, but very enjoyable! The remaining days were either sea days or days we stayed onboard. These provided opportunities to read, play scrabble, star gaze, and generally fully relax. All too quickly the cruise came to a successful finish. Disembarkation at Fremantle was smooth and problem-free. All in all, this was a memorable cruise, and one from which we returned feeling very refreshed. We will definitely be travelling with Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We chose this cruise mainly because we wanted to get back on the sea, have a decent length of time and because the mini-suites were priced exceptionally well for this cruise. We got a great deal. Overall this was a great cruise – the ... Read More
We chose this cruise mainly because we wanted to get back on the sea, have a decent length of time and because the mini-suites were priced exceptionally well for this cruise. We got a great deal. Overall this was a great cruise – the sea was mostly calm with very few rough days, the weather was good to beautiful most days, the staff were mostly good, the food was everything from okay to wonderful and the experience was very enjoyable – especially the mini-suite experience on these Sun class ships, where the room configuration is superior to other mini-suites. I was pretty excited about having a bath at sea in rocky waters. I did get to do this eventually but it wasn't as weird as I was expecting. In addition, I always love travelling on the Sun class ships because of the excellent promenade. I didn’t exactly come back new, but I came back relaxed and content with the cruise, so that’s a good outcome. That said, there were some issues with this cruise that made it slightly less satisfactory than previous experiences and I will outline them here. 1) Itinerary. While I was pleased with the itinerary when I first booked the cruise, investigation revealed that of the 11 ports, 6 were troublesome. 3 ports were way too far from the cities they claimed to visit (Bangkok (Laem Chabang), Ho Chi Mihn City (Phu My), Kuala Lumpur (Port Kelang)) and another three required tendering (Bali (Benoa), Lombok and Koh Samui). In addition, most stops in port were quite short and I found this very annoying – especially if the next port was 5 hours away by ferry and yet we were leaving at 4.30pm. Why? I thought we should have had an overnight at Singapore too. Phu My was particularly annoying because I read that ships used to dock at Vung Tau. I so much would have preferred that. 2) Shore Tours The shore tours were, in general, not that great for both legs of our cruise. I mostly had to book ‘on your own’ type tours because of distance and lack of decent choices. Most tours seemed to involve long time wasting Westernised buffet lunches, visits to craft centres I wasn’t interested in or souvenir shops I just didn’t care about. I would have much preferred some decent snorkelling options or some tours where you visit 3 cool things and then have a decent amount of time on your own. But as mentioned above, this was hard because so many ports were too far from the action and the time in port was quite curtailed. Also there were not many options for more local tours or if tours were offered, they seemed very limited. Though Siem Reap was mentioned somewhere when I was booking, this cruise offered no overland overnight tours to Siem Reap, which was disappointing. It turns out to be a very difficult place to visit in terms of getting to and getting from Siem Reap without missing too many cruise days so we didn't bother trying to visit. 3) A perceived drop in some standards. I felt that the cabin staff were not as prompt and reliable as previously and they did not explain and go over the features of the room and some of the bar staff were abrupt (Might have had something to do with the passengers). In addition, crème brulee no longer seemed to be offered as a dessert and I missed those – much healthier than cakes and anyway, I don’t care much for cakes. 4) Other passengers. There were a lot of kids on this cruise as it was school holidays. I won’t make that mistake again! But anyway, being school holidays, there were a lot of kids and a proportion of those children had parents who really didn’t care what they did. They did some terrible things. I don’t even like to mention some of what I heard in case it wasn’t true, but they definitely had a kid or kids purposefully poop in the pool 3 times, leading to some inconvenience for every single person who likes using the pool. I heard worse things concerning poop too. I haven’t cruised with so many kids before and now I know why so many people don’t want to cruise with kids (not that they were all bad, but the whole cruise in general would have been nicer if the bad ones weren’t onboard). In addition, there was the usual Aussie crowd of pursed lips and sour expressions to contend with. You'd think Australians have a much worse time on holidays than they do at home if you judged them by their cruise faces. 5) Tendering process: I can never understand how a ship can tender so often and still stuff up the process again and again. We had great tendering in Lombok despite using only ship’s tenders, and terrible tendering experiences in Koh Samui and Bali. Maybe changes to staff at Singapore explains it? But anyway, it went from a well run process to a terrible boring burden. The ship sailed almost 3 hours late from Bali because, even though they had previously experienced rubbish getting caught in the tender propellers, they did not book enough extra help from the shore until halfway through the morning. Even then it wasn’t enough – people had to queue for hours. Koh Samui was better but they had some really inexperienced tender drivers working and it made the trip and the docking at each end nearly unbearable – they were so slow, they had to try to dock so many times! The local guys were just driving up to the dock/ship and tying up, no problems. 6) The in room entertainment and communication systems really need an upgrade. Also the big screen on deck 14 seemed a bit outdated and not as functional as on other Sun class ships, though I could just have flawed memories from previous ships. The in room movies should be on demand and it would be great if a channel ran text of the captains and other announcements. 7) Not enough good chocolate available at the shop! And overpriced too! Remember, as always, to stock up on everything you might want before you get on the ship! That’s about it. I list these things but must reiterate, I enjoyed the cruise, my cabin, the dining room and staff and various ship features. It was a good cruise! I spent most days feeling just great about everything. I mention the above for others who are considering the Treasures of Asia itineraries – just be aware of where the ports are and what ships tours are available when you decide to book! If you are wanting to actually see and spend significant time in these cities, maybe visit them another way. If you are wanting a nice warm cruise in fairly sedate oceans with some short visits to interesting places, it’s a good cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This was a great learning experience. We were on the Diamond Princess once before it was converted for the Japanese market. We fell in love with the onboard Japanese baths and encourage everyone to drop their inhibitions and try it. It ... Read More
This was a great learning experience. We were on the Diamond Princess once before it was converted for the Japanese market. We fell in love with the onboard Japanese baths and encourage everyone to drop their inhibitions and try it. It definitely prepared us for our excursion to one of the hot springs in Japan. A few things we learned is that unfortunately we are not particularly fond of Japanese food and some of our favorite standbys had been removed from the menu. We also learned that we prefer cruises where the ports are in multiple countries rather than basically one. The excursions were all similar -- Buddha's, shrines, temples, and aerial trams. But the tours were well done, just somewhat repetitious. And for people not particularly fond of Japanese food, the excursion lunches left a lot to be desired. We did appreciate the presentation in wood Bento boxes, just not so much what was in them. Entertainment was superb! The Princess entertainers put on "Bravo" -- a beautiful and entertaining show we thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend. All the shows were excellent, but this was exceptional. Quality of the shows has greatly improved and we appreciated it. Before embarking on this cruise we spent 4 days in Tokyo Disney -- lots of fun and great opportunity to let out our inner child. Both embarkation and disembarkation went extremely smooth. In fact, we took a disembarkation excursion and had the good fortune to see a Japanese wedding at one of the shrines. Beautiful! I highly recommend Princess and at least one trip in your lifetime to Japan. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
I chose Royal Caribbean based on rave reviews from family and friends. But they cruised in Europe and not on Voyager of the seas. My husband and I went with a couple of friends on Voyager just to test out a short cruise from Hong Kong to ... Read More
I chose Royal Caribbean based on rave reviews from family and friends. But they cruised in Europe and not on Voyager of the seas. My husband and I went with a couple of friends on Voyager just to test out a short cruise from Hong Kong to Koahsiung and Keelung to Hong Kong 5 days 4 nights at the end of school holidays in HK. Embarkation and disembarkation went well. They allowed a lot of time for people to get on and get off the boat so the process is not stressful. A BIG PLUS Pro: The stateroom with balcony was compact and with even a small balcony, you feel spacious and comfortable. Stateroom attendant was courteous and friendly. He made different cute animals with the towels everyday. We are impressed with high functionality of the fittings of the room. Free food even for room service up till 10pm after that there will be a delivery charge. Another great point though we never used the room service. Con: We had a missing piece of lugguage and 2 hours after the ship departed, someone told us to try security at Deck 1. It was held up because they scanned the suitcase and suspected a piece of extension cord inside. No extension cord allowed. 1. We should have been informed that extension cord is not allowed. 2. my multihead USB charger looks like the said extension cord. It is normal for people to bring this type of charger for the number of gadgets we use these days. Pro: Unlimited amount of food is available at various venues at different time. The variety of activities in different area of the boats are announced the night before in form of a paper circular. Some free activities you need to register in advance to keep waiting time down. Con: With 3,554 guests on board for free seatings in all dining venue, we had a problem. We needed to share table at breakfast even though there are table of 4 vacant. The reason? they don't have a table for 2. I am sure there could be a better arrangement with careful planning. Many groups are from travel agents and they have their own tour guide to manage each smaller size group. The couple we shared the table with happened to have their breakfast at Windjammer at 7am and at 8:30 they wanted to try out the dining room a la carte breakfast! And they are not happy either having to share the table with us and that the food is not that great. Generally, the food is average. Dining room staff is attentive depending on how experience he/she is. The Chinese menu was poor and it was supposed to be from a reputable restaurant group. Chicken was tough. They used the wrong kind of vegetables in the soup. I am glad to get out of the ship as we got very bored with the food. The public toilets were disastrous during the peak of meal times. Need I say more. Slippery, stinky floor. Tissue in the wrong place. It was stated that there will be a formal dress code for one dinner so we took a lot of trouble to take formal attire on board. In the end they were all CASUAL nights. We felt like a fool having to haul these items on board for nothing! Pro: Entertainment in the theatre was great if you care to be at the seat 30 mins prior to the show. There is the old saying of "Cruise Ship Singers". Some individual performers in the bar are actually very good. The Japanese juggler was very good but he only had one performance as opposed to the usual twice on the other nights so we were very packed in the theatre and patience among the crowd was wearing thin. Con: It sounds funny with Filippino singers singing Cantonese and Mandarin songs. With majority guests being Chinese, I am sure the Cruise company can afford Chinese artists. Con: It was chaotic when we disembarked in Kaohsiung and with a queue of 100 plus guests, there was hardly a taxi in sight. We subsequently found out that local taxis were not allowed to come in unless they have a reservation from a customer. Very strange. This is not the first time they docked in here. Shouldn't there be some coordination with the locals? Pro: No one was late for the ship or that the ship departed on time. They asked everyone to come back on board one hour prior to departure. It is a great way for family gatherings. Indeed there were about 10+ elderlies on wheelchairs enjoying their holidays with family kids and domestic helpers. Only if the crowd management is better organised. We particularly enjoyed the line dance, the street party which is great atmosphere. Please stress the importance of safety to allow little kids on dance floor. There should be a section just for them each time there is a dance party. I am mostly impressed with the staff who lead dances, who help with the flowrider, or the DJ in Highnote. They all show passion, commitment and patience in what they do. If I have to cruise on Voyager again, I would try to avoid the crowd. Definitely avoid school holidays. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We chose this cruise in order to visit some highlights of Japan. I was expecting that entertainment- shows, movies, spectacles, orchestra as well as the various activities on the ship will be on a high level. Unfortunately, they were ... Read More
We chose this cruise in order to visit some highlights of Japan. I was expecting that entertainment- shows, movies, spectacles, orchestra as well as the various activities on the ship will be on a high level. Unfortunately, they were not adapted to European or American audience. The main dining room was very crowded and always noisy.Later on we kept dining in the special restaurants that were excellent. I also think that the shore excursions and ports of visit should be better checked before. Kochi for example was a very poor place to stop in. There was nothing to do' especially when we are in such a special and unique country as Japan..Hiroshima and Hatsukaichi were very interesting and beautifulas well as Kobe. I have to say that the room service as well as the staff of the different restaurants , all was very nice, polite and attentive and always willing to help. . Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
This cruise was titled "The Festivals of Japan" and it only happens once per year. If you have a chance to sail on this ship at the appropriate festival time, grab it!!! Four of the ports of call visit coastal communities during ... Read More
This cruise was titled "The Festivals of Japan" and it only happens once per year. If you have a chance to sail on this ship at the appropriate festival time, grab it!!! Four of the ports of call visit coastal communities during their festival times when you will see singing and dancing in extraordinary costumes and viewed by tens of thousands of spectators. What was particularly special about this cruise is that you are fully immersed in Japanese culture. Of the approximately 2500 passengers, approximately 10% were not Japanese, and of the 10%, we were split between Americans, particularly Hawaiians, Australians, Canadians, some Brits and Europeans. Announcements were made in Japanese first and English second. The food primarily is Asian, but there was lots of choose from for more traditional American tastes. There is always a salad bar, lots of cut up canteloupe and honeydew, 2 soups at lunch and dinner--one asian and one not. I would say that the food was 4 star--quite good! I loved the afternoon scones with cream and jam which you can have in the International Dining Room or at the buffet Horizon Court. Portions in the dining room are particularly tiny, but you can always ask for more. Since I'm a big eater, I preferred the Horizon buffet so I can sample everything and go back up for seconds for those items that I preferred. The ship is a nice size--not too big and not too small. I have cruised about 6 times now and I don't particularly see much difference between rooms on different ships. I had an interior room to save some money and it was more than adequate for one person and the layout was comparable with other lines. The evening shows which I attended were quite enjoyable, although I tended to watch "Movies under the Stars" and munch the freshly popped popcorn. There is a gym and golf course but I did not use these activities. My main reason for writing this review is to help people with the shore excursions. In almost every port, Princess provided free shuttles into town. So, I would suggest savings yourself some money and just doing excursions on your own. For more detail: Akita: the shuttle drops you off at Kenmin Kalkan which is the Akita prefecture hall and the central location for the evening Kanto festival. I brought my own folding chair and was laughing at my friends who sat in the hot sun waiting 2 hours for the festival to start. I showed up right when the festival began, at 7:15, found a place to sit, and left just before the end to avoid the crowds upon leaving. Once again, I was on the free shuttle back to the Diamond Princess. Aomori Nebuta festival: The festival is performed twice--during the day from 1 to 3pm in the town and then in the evening on the water. My group paid for seats, but in fact they had to stand and had difficulty seeing the floats. I went during the day for free on the shuttle and found some shade from the relenting sun but was up close and personal! I hate to complain about the heat when I was in the shade and performers were dressed in elaborate costumes and they were dancing in the sun!! The children dancing are my favourite! Once again, I brought my chair. The shuttle drops you off at a wharf one block from the parade. In the evening, the bridge is raised so you either have to go into town prior to the 5pm lifting of the bridge or you can't go. Once you are at the festival, you have to stay past 10pm until the bridge is lowered. I'm so glad that I went in the afternoon!! At the end of the festival, the people of Aomori make a splendid fireworks exhibition which can be seen from the ship. I would suggest seeing the parade in the afternoon and saving the $129 fee, but you can make your own decision. Sakaiminato: the Princess docks at Showa south warf with complimentary shuttle to Sakaiminato station. Busan, South Korea: the shuttle whisks you to the Phoenix Hotel, right across from the Fish Market and BIFF square. Again, no need to take a tour. I went on a tour to the Beomosa Temple, which was very nice, and then we spent and hour in the Market. It was enough for me. Busan was a surprisingly modern city and the tour to the temple took us on the 50 minute drive through the city, so it was interesting to see this. Kochi: the shuttle bus takes you close the action and drops you at the bus terminal in town. From there you can walk to the Castle area, particularly in the "malls" which have shopping and respite from the sun. I did this in the morning and came back to the ship for the afternoon. Then, around 6:30 pm when the sun went down, I headed back to town for the festival. It was simply too hot to be out in the sun during the day. Tokushima: this is the one city where I would recommend signing up for the Festival. The shuttle does not go into Tokushima, but it goes to Komatashima and from there you can take a train to get to Tokushima, but I was worried that the train would be full. (you can check the train schedule at hyperedia.com. ) I spent the day on the ship and paid for the festival tour at night. I didn't take the shuttle just to explore the area as I didn't think that there was much to see at the Komatshima shuttle stop. Yokohama: I took the free shuttle from the ship to Sakuragicho Station. Many of the people in my group took the shuttle from Princess to the airport but their flights weren't until 5pm. I didn't wan to sit in the airport for 8 hours. At Sakuragicho station, there is an information booth and they will store your luggage for 500 yen (approx $5) for the day. From Sakuragicho, I walked around the harbour area--seeing the giant ferris wheel, went to the Red Brick Warehouse, through Yamashitacho park, up through China town and back to Sakuragicho station. This walk took about 2-1/2 hours. Then I found a shuttle bus from Sakuragicho station to the airport!!! I was so happy to find this, rather than drag my luggage to Yokohama station and then to the Limousine Bus to the airport. Warning: the airport bus direct to Haneda only operates in the morning, but it turns out that it picks up a short 5 minute walk from the station at the Yokohama Royal Park Hotel--which looks out over the amusement park. This is a high end hotel and the concierge was marvelous and held my luggage for the 10 minutes while I waited for the bus. The bus is run by the Keiku bus line and I used my Passmo card to pay for it (740 yen). The bus goes to the Red Brick Warehouse, Yokohama Prefecture office, Yokohama Bay Hotel Tokyu and Rose Hotel Yokohama, which is in Chinatown. Definitely bus a Passmo or Suica card at the airport when you arrive in Tokyo. I put the equivalent of $30 on it, and when you go back to the airport to leave Tokyo, you can go on the 2nd floor of airport to the Keikyu office and they will give the cash back which is left on the card. When I arrived in Tokyo, I took and the airport bus which went close to my hotel and it also goes to various stations. I was a bit afraid of the trains and didn't want to lug my luggage up and down multiple platforms and risk getting lost! I stayed in the Ginza area for 3 days prior to the cruise. P.S. If given the choice, definitely fly to Haneda which is approximately 20 minutes from Yokohama or Ginza whereas Narita is very far and very expensive to get to. Another tip: rental a pocket wifi. This way I had internet everywhere that I went including some times when the ship was on the water. This is much cheaper than the ship wifi. I understand that some USA people can get unlimited wifi for $29 but in Canada, it is much more expensive and limits on the usage. If you go, you will have a great trip!!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We had a starboard side balcony cabin on deck 13. the overhang was great to keep the sun and rain off of us. however it did have a drawback of blocking your view to look up. another problem with deck 13 is at about 5 a.m. the workers must ... Read More
We had a starboard side balcony cabin on deck 13. the overhang was great to keep the sun and rain off of us. however it did have a drawback of blocking your view to look up. another problem with deck 13 is at about 5 a.m. the workers must clean or straighten the pool chairs on deck 14. It was noisy and we could hear the banging of things moving around above the ceiling. The storage above the bed is a great improvement over the older, smaller ships we have been on. the room had 22 hangers! and the Frig worked very well keeping things cold (not typical on our other 13 ships). I heard so many complaints about the elevators/lifts. A couple never left deck 2 for several days after embarkation. don't know if they were undergoing maintenance or what. the elevators seemed slow to get to the floors. Don't know if there are too few for the amount of people or if the complex programming needed to optimize operations still needed adjustment. The ship is beautiful and the art work is progressive and colorful. The i-pads they have throughout the ship for you to search or schedule activities with didn't work too well. They were slow, froze up, etc. We were impressed with Windjammer although we didn't like washing our hands every time to get in. The food seemed better and a wider selection than in past RCCL cruises. they were prepared for the amount of people who go there embarkation day. They didn't clean up the wash area often enough; paper towels ended up in the sink and on the floor. plus, this activity on the starboard side took up too much room to have smooth egress/exit flow of people during peak times. We also liked the self dispensers for soda and other cold drinks. They worked well and tasted good. Bumper cars often had up to 7 out of service leaving only 11 operational. Heard a few complaints about 40 minute wait times for this. i-fly was fun. Book this before you board or you might not get a time slot. At least on this ship they must have found someone capable to make scrambled eggs. They were not runny or mushy. RCCL didn't provide port maps at the stops so seeing the talks about the ports were beneficial to us. We did not like the ship's musical shows. But others might like the loud music with contemporary dance. The professional entertainers were above average. We only had one shore excursion thru the ship and it was terrible. so don't judge my rating of them by our one bad experience. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We chose this ship as it was advertised as having all the exciting new features like indoor skydiving, bumper cars, etc. To our MASSIVE DISAPPOINTMENT, the moment we boarded the ship and tried to make on online reservations for ... Read More
We chose this ship as it was advertised as having all the exciting new features like indoor skydiving, bumper cars, etc. To our MASSIVE DISAPPOINTMENT, the moment we boarded the ship and tried to make on online reservations for skydiving, it was ALREADY FULL. How is this possible? Obviously, the ship is not equipped to handle the very capacity it advertises. Worse, they had a standby queue for people who wanted to try to queue for a slot in case someone who booked didn't turn up, I waited for one and a half hours in the hot sun, and the queue didn't even move ONE DAMN PERSON. To rub salt on our wounds, my almost 5 year old son had been looking forward to playing the bumper cars. Only after we have paid for the cruise and boarded the ship, did we find out that Royal Carribean has some totally inflexible rule, that the rider must be 5 years old TO THE DAY, before being allowed to ride. My son went home extremely disappointed. We feel misled, and cheated by Royal Carribbean. Don't advertise, if you are not transparent, UPFRONT, with guests, that they may not be able to enjoy certain activities due to your inability and poor planning, to accommodate every passenger. Don't even try to throw that famous sentence "It's on our website in the fine print" or some shit like that. We've had much better service and staff attitude on Mariner of the Seas. Luxury cruises are ALL about GUEST EXPERIENCE. We felt like refugees instead of a guest on a luxurious cruise, with many of the activities on a first-come-first-served basis. I stress again, BE TRANSPARENT. LET THE GUEST KNOW BEFORE THEY BOOK THE CRUISE WHETHER THE ACTIVITIES ARE AVAILABLE OR NOT, so they can make an informed decision. To top it all off, Royal Carribbean gave the guests $200 credit per person, which me and my husband checked via their television when we were on board on the second day. We happily spent itt , only to return and realise there was a $100 charge back which they did on the third day. Royal Carribbean admitted it was a technical error on their part, but DID NOT take responsibility for their error and absorb the cost. So we had to pay up. Is this ethical? Guests trust your internal system, that's the whole point of being able to check via the television what's their existing credits. And worse, the team did not have the courtesy to inform us before doing the charge back. We feel completely disrespected. I won't even bother to go into details of how the food onboard was horrible ( the pasta station guy served me aglio olio pasta with NO GARLIC NO SALT!!!) Worse pasta I've tasted in my life. And a Serbian waitress at the SILK fine dining restaurant, walked away without even informing me, when she was waiting for me to make my decision on what to order. No point having a beautiful spanking new ship, that is infected with viruses of poor service, poor crowdhandling and planning of activities. No point positioning yourself as premium, and stinge on essentials like toothbrushes and toothpaste (Yes guys, bring your own or be prepared to pay a lot for them). Our experience from the get-go, starting from delayed boarding which resulted in the crowd starving and rushing to the Windjammer cafe all at once, to not getting to use the services we thought we paid for and are included in the cruise, just makes the whole cruise SUCK BIG TIME. The only people who left a good impression on me were: My spa therapist from Vitality, who was very professional. And Hartley the Finance manager, who paid attention to our feedback and made us feel respected. But overall, the staff onboard tend to give us the vibe of "Oh too bad, that's just the way it is." If you want a luxurious cruise, AVOID OVATION OF THE SEAS. Staying at home eating instant noodles is a much more pampering experience. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Ports of Call – Singapore (embarkation), Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City), Hong Kong, Xiamin, Korea (Seoul), and Beijing Singapore and Embarkations: For those who have not been to Singapore, it is an awesome city, particularly if you like ... Read More
Ports of Call – Singapore (embarkation), Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City), Hong Kong, Xiamin, Korea (Seoul), and Beijing Singapore and Embarkations: For those who have not been to Singapore, it is an awesome city, particularly if you like shopping and eating. There are multiple places to do both and you are only limited by your cash supply (or credit). My wife and I stayed at the Marina Bay Sands (you’ve seen the pictures, particularly of the infinity pool). It was a great hotel and the pool is as awesome as it looks. Since we were quite jet lagged after traveling 26 hours from Texas, we did not get out as much as we would have liked, but did get to Orchard street for a bit of shopping as well as to the Marina Bay Sands Mall. For the latter you will find every upscale store you can think of. We held off as we planned to shop in Hong Kong. We did try two great restaurants: Waku Ghin and Cut. Both are very expensive (Waki Ghin being crazy expensive), but both meals were incredibly good. Waku Ghin is more experience dining on a fixed menu and if you are the adventurous type, I recommend it. It is ranked as one of the top 50 restaurants in Asia for good reason. Cut (a Wolfgang Puck restaurant) is a steakhouse. Suffice it to say that I have now eaten the steak by which I will judge all others. I had a true Wagyu ribeye from Japan and while it didn’t look overly impressive on the plate (I like my meat plain without a bunch of sauces as I believe the meat should speak for itself), it was by far the tastiest and most tender piece of beef I’ve ever put in my mouth. Highly recommend going here if you love your meat. On Sunday we checked out and headed to the pier which fortunately is only about a 10 minute cab ride from the Marina Bay Sands. As we were staying in a Sky Loft, we had the new Star Class Service and a Genie (more on this later). We were whisked to a special room where we met our Genie, Sunil, who was taking care of us and one other couple. He took care of all our paperwork, brought us our cruise cards, and escorted us on the ship past all the lines. Sweet. We also got to go straight to our room even though it was “technically” not time to allow us in (just a touch past noon). We dropped off our stuff and went to Coastal Kitchen (suite guests only) for lunch. As much as the food in the Windjammer is good and plentiful, I’m not a big fan of buffets or crowds, both of which are in abundance at the Windjammer. Overall the process was very smooth and we had no issues. The Ship: There is another post from a cruiser doing the Dubai to Singapore leg that is very descriptive, so I invite you to find that thread for the detail and another perspective. I will include more of my own impressions and opinions. As a preface, my wife and I are Diamond Plus on Royal so have been on most of the ships including the sister ship Quantum of the Seas. We have done Allure and Oasis, and while different class of ships, offer some points of comparison as well. The Quantum class ships are very different than any others in the Royal fleet, and people coming expecting the same Royal layout may be surprised or possibly even disappointed (we heard no end of complaining on the Quantum during its inaugural voyage; I think it was the most common pastime). There is still a central promenade that opens for Decks 4 and 5. There are a few shops, the coffee bar, café, pizzeria, and kiosks in the middle where whatever daily deal on stuff they are hawking can be found. Of note is Michael’s Pub which is a nice dark bar with great beer and pretty good food. If you want to step out of the light of the promenade, slip into one of the back booths here and have a pint and fish and chips or pork sliders. I hit this place quite often. The Royal Theater is Forward on Decks 4 and 5 and is quite similar to what you will usually see on Royal. There are restaurants toward the aft (more on restaurants later). Deck 3 is mainly dominated by the Casino and Music Hall (which also extends onto Deck 4). First the Music Hall. Good place to hang and where a lot of events will occur. You can see various music and this is also where the dance lessons take place (line dancing, ballroom, and those brave enough to practice for Michael Jackson’s Thriller rendition). At night it becomes the dance club. This is also where bingo will take place (yes, I won at bingo again, thank you). Upstairs is more bar like with pool tables that apparently self balance. The Casino is enlarged on the Ovation versus the Quantum, an ode to the ship mainly catering to Asian customers who apparently really love their gambling. Complaints here: no craps table, no cash poker, no Let It Ride, way too many Baccarat tables that only about half a dozen people ever seemed to play, and all the slot are the new electronic 5 reel type with only a few of the old three reels. I am a gambler, as is my wife, so we spent significant time here. As I’m mainly a poker and craps player, I had to have my daily comlaint about no craps or cash game being available. They had two Ultimate Texas Hold-em tables that we about as hard to get on as getting into a Beyonce concert. I literally had three days of our trip I could not get on these tables. People staked out these tables like they were waiting for the last seat on a lifeboat. I did the same until I got bored while I stared at the 7 empty Baccarat tables. I hope this pays off for Royal when they get all the Chinese guests, but I can tell you that the Chinese love poker too. Hello….Royal. Deck 5 is the new cool and unique deck you will only see on Quantum class ships. This starts with the Esplanade which resides above the Promenade. Here you will find the infamous Bionic Bar and the robot bartenders. Go ahead and try it but don’t look for anything too complicated. You can get drinks off their menu (great if you like the usual overly sweet cruise drinks) or you can make your own, which is way cooler. You just have to work within the limits of the ingredients they have. They have a DJ there in the evenings after 8, and this is a cool place to hang out for a while when waiting to do other stuff in the night. Across from the Bionic Bar is Wonderland and Izumi (see below). You will also find the Photo Center here next to the bar in case you want to peruse the photos they are taking of your cruise. Nice thing for the photos is that they will match them to your room number when taking the picture making it a breeze to review (gone are the days of hunting hundreds of 8x10s trying to figure out “now what time did I get off the ship?”). Thanks Royal for coming into the 21st century on this. Further down the Esplanade is a nice open area with a cool sculpture hanging from the ceiling. You will find Jamie’s Italian and Vintages. While Vintages can be found on many Royal Ships, Jamie’s is only on Quantim and Oasis class ships (more on Jamie’s below). Following the path you can hang at some cool couches as you make your way to the Next Cruise area, the 270 Café and 270 itself. As many have noted, the 270 area may be the coolest part of the ship and one of the things that sets the Quantum class apart. Get a drink at the bar, hang out and enjoy the view. You can head upstairs for a bit more privacy or visit the library. The pool decks on 14 and 15 are fairly the norm. My wife and are not sun-worshippers, so we only spent limited time here. Adults have three options: open air under the sun and sky, the enclosed area that is cooler (temperature wise), and the Solarium which is cooler (aesthetic wise). We mainly hung in the Solarium. Lots of whirlpools in each section and a bar in each. You will also find the Solarium Café here. The running track in on Deck 15 (watch out, someone is always running), all the neat adventure stuff (rockwall, iFly, Flowrider) is in the back. You will also get to experience the other unique part of the Quantum Class, the SeaPlex. They do all sorts of things here from dodgeball to trapeze training, but you must do the bumper cars at least once (unless you are very old, very boring, or have a messed up back like me). You can also grab a hotdog or sausage here and a beer and watch people crash into each other. The Spa and workout facility are Forward on 15 and 16. The spa is pretty normal for cruise standards, and they have a thermal suite. A few words on that: the suite has a seven thermal beds that are nice and warm to lay on, a wet sauna, a dry sauna, and cold/warm shower. I love the thermal spa and bought the cruise package (way to go if you plan to visit at least half the days of your cruise). I miss not having a whirlpool and in all honesty, it is a pale comparison to the thermal spa I experienced on the Norwegian Epic. Still a nice place to spend an hour and unwind. Due to my aforementioned back (herniated a disk, L5-S1, four weeks before the cruise), I did not engage in any workouts, though I usually do. The layout of the workout room is identical on the Ovation to the Quantum and is pretty nice for a ship with some good space to do whatever. If you’re trying to balance out the food, pay a visit. They also have about 20 presentations every day for every malady known to man so they can educate you and sell you products. These all take place there as well. Our Room: As noted above, we had booked a Sky Loft. This is a rather expensive room that I realize most will not be staying in but as this was our first real trip to Asia and on a new ship, we wanted to do it right. I can say the money was well spent. The room was spectacular and we did spend a fair amount of time in it as this cruise had 6 sea days. As a loft, it is split on two levels with a living area below with couch, table, desk, and minibar (which was always kept stocked on our selected item, mainly water, Red Bull, and beer). The lower floor also has a sink and shower on one side of the entry way and a water closet on the other side. I constantly kept going into one to use the restroom only to have to walk across the entry way for the toilet. A bit inconvenient, but it is nice to split up the bathroom between two people rather that fighting over space. There is a ton of storage with a full closet and a dresser with big drawers. Again, it was nice for me to keep all my stuff down here and let my wife have all upstairs. The room has floor to ceiling windows with automatic curtains controlled from below. The balcony is very nice, though not huge. We spent some time there, but the weather was either very humid or rainy a lot so not as nice as when in the Caribbean. Still, it was cool to hang out there on occasion. Upstairs had the king size bed, two closets, and vanity and dresser and full bathroom (shower, no tub). The bed was awesome and very comfortable. My wife loved the pillows and wants to buy some for our home. I actually got a different pillow as I found them too soft (you get a pillow menu with the suite). There is another set of curtains on the balcony upstairs so someone can open downstairs without disturbing someone else still sleeping. Again, plenty of storage. The safe is located upstairs and my only complaint is that it’s really too small. I have no idea why they don’t put in a bigger safe given all the room in the closet, but it’s only a minor issue. Overall the room was fantastic, and if you can swing it on this ship or another, I recommend it. The Restaurants: I think we hit them all, but I’ll give my take on each, starting with the free then the paid: American Icon – as stated, mainly American food with a few other things thrown in. Ate there for breakfast a couple of times, lunch a couple of times (way too overcooked hamburger), and room service dinner. Nothing special but nothing bad. If you really like your salad, they have the build your own salad bar here with a lot of ingredients. Probably the best thing to do for lunch here. Chic – the trendy looking restaurant with some more unique dishes. Ate dinner there once. Pretty good, but not the best on the ship. Worth at least one dinner if you are on a 10 day or more. If on a 7 day, you could skip it. Silk – This is the Asian restaurant. We ate dinner there once and had room service once. Actually pretty good and would put this one on the list to do. The Grande – This is the traditional restaurant that will have a menu featuring many of the dishes Royal cruisers know and (possibly) love. This is supposed to be the Formal restaurant, though they changed this to Smart Casual. Nevertheless, we went formal as did many others that dined there. We only ate there once, but it was one of the best meals we had. Still remember the braised pork loin which fell off the bone. Definitely do this one. Coastal Kitchen – Not necessary “free” as its limited for suite guests only. We ate breakfast there once together (not good) and once by myself (better though service was slow), lunch a couple of time (pretty good), and dinner there once (also pretty good). Mixed reviews here but if you are in a suite, I would try it. It’s right next to the Windjammer so peel off to the left to avoid the crowds. Solarium Bistro – Ate breakfast there. Buffet and much like Windjammer without the choices. Didn’t eat there otherwise so can’t really comment. Pizzeria – The pizza we had by the slice was not very good. I saw others ordering custom pizzas that looked better. Probably you’ll end up eating here since it’s easy. Promenade Café and 270 Café – Will lump these together as this is order from the premade section. Good for a sandwich, wrap, or panani, etc. You can also get a salad here. Good in a pinch and no complaints. Also allows good people watching (Promenade) or a great view (270). SeaDogs – Go grab a dog and beer. The ones we had were pretty good, and it’s fun to watch the bumper cars and make fun of people. Michael’s Pub – everything here is ala carte, but the food is good. The fish and chips were very crispy and tasty. The pork sliders are addicting. They also serve their special potato ships with the blue cheese dressing which are also quite addicting. Recommend spending a few bucks here for a snack or lunch. You’ll like it. Kung Fu Panda Noodle House – on Deck 14 aft by the pool, this is where you will find Johnny Rockets on the Quantum. We had lunch there with some dim sum and noodle soup. I found it all way good, and probably would have hit it again, but we didn’t try it until Day 11. Only complaint is that this area is somewhat cut off from the sea breeze and is a bit stuffy and hot in the day. If the weather is conducive, go visit the Panda, you’ll like it. Now the specialty restaurants: Chops- if you cruise Royal, you know Chops. This is the steakhouse you will find on all their ships. We always hit Chops as it never seems to disappoint. The same can be said for this trip. Food and service were great. Definitely hit it once if you like steak and a romantic atmosphere. Izumi – We had dinner there one night. Everything is very fresh (they got fresh fish in Vietnam the day we ate there) and very good. Cheaper than a sushi dinner back home, but can still add up, particularly if you get some sake. Still, if you like sushi, I recommend. Try to get one of the tables overlooking the Promenade; great way to people watch while eating. Jamie’s Italian – Do you like pasta? I like pasta. Jamie’s makes pasta there every day from scratch. Go eat the pasta. It’s good…way good…like eat until your stomach hurts good. I also recommend getting the meat and cheese board as an appetizer. Lots of other stuff on the menu, and I’m sure it’s all great. We ate their twice. We ate pasta, then went back again and ate more pasta. Man… that is some good pasta. Spend your money to eat here. If you like pasta I bet you will eat there more than once. Wonderland – now we get to one of the best restaurants on the seas. We ate at Wonderland on the Quantum. It was so amazingly good, we tried to book again but could not. No mistakes this time as we booked it twice ahead of time. This is not only great dining, but a very cool experience with a whimsical feel from the décor to the waiters to the menu. I can’t really describe the food other than to say it is creative, different, and incredibly tasty. Going twice allowed us to try almost the entire menu. Even though this is the most expensive of the specialty restaurants, you must go. You may end up going twice if you can get back in. Shows – Disclaimer: my wife and I are not big show people, and though we always say before the cruise “we have to do more shows”, we never seem to. That said, we did make a couple of the shows that may be on your cruise. The Dream – I thought this was a pretty cool show mainly due to great sets and costumes and use of modern music to drive the story. The story is somewhat confusing in parts, but you’ll probably be able to follow. I’d recommend going for a different experience. Spectra’s Caberet – This show is in 270 and makes use of the multiple rising stages and the robotic screens with a lot of music and dancing. I found it very entertaining, and it’s worth seeing it if only to see the robotic screens and background visuals when they close the windows with gigantic curtains. Get there early for a good seat. We did not make the main show, Live, Love, Legs- my understanding is this is a Vegas style showgirl show so if you’re into that, check it out. Excursions: While your itinerary will probably be different, a few things just in case you visit the same places. Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh city aka Saigon). We did the On Your Own tour. Usually these are great so you can immerse into local culture and go off the beaten path. No so much here. We did a bit of shopping, but as you venture to far away from the more modern areas you are thrust into the third world. If you are adventurous with that type of stuff, go for it. My wife is not and I deferred to her comfort. We did have a great lunch at the Rex hotel and did find some cool shopping. I suggest taking an organized tour here. Hong Kong – Shop, shop, til you drop. I love Hong Kong. We had two days there. I could spend a week here easily. We stayed on our own other than the night tour, which was very cool though a bit short and limited in the areas you go to (and lots of sitting in traffic). We ate at a 2 star Michelin restaurant at the Intercontinental for dinner (Yan Toh Heen) Amazingly good. I also got some custom tailored shirts ($260 for 5 shirts, what a bargain) while my wife found clothes at Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Gucci (not a bargain). Expensive, but she had a blast just getting to try on $5,000 dresses at stores larger than what you see in NYC. Would go back here in a second. Xiamin – We took the tour to Goulangyu island. This was the tour from hell. The lack of organization would make the Three Stooges, Marx Brothers, and Keystone Cops look like a well-oiled machine by comparison. C’mon Royal, get better at this. After waiting an hour in the terminal, we finally took our ferry to the island only to wait an hour in the blazing sun while our scheduled transport carts were commandeered by the local tourists (our tour staff was way too young and inexperienced to handle). We finally made it to our lunch following a 20 minute ride to the other side of the island (one of the few nice things on this tour). The island is beautiful but lots of construction and the beaches are filthy with trash, which is a real shame. The lunch was good, but then it was back to wait in the sun with crowds of people. We were supposed to go to a puppet show, but we had to wait half an hour in a room that became more and more crowded as the time passed. We set up residence in the last row against the wall to get some coolness from the stone. The puppet show was actually the best part of the tour, and the teenagers that did it are incredibly talented and you could tell they had spent hours of practice. Then it was back in the sun to traipse down small streets with tons of people to get back to where we started. We then got about 15 minutes to do a bit of shopping at the local shops, and then mercifully back to the ferry and the ship. It was shame as this could have been a great tour with the right organization. Do the temple tour if you stop here. If you do go to Goulangyu, may God be with you. Seoul – We were two and half hours delayed leaving the ship as Royal didn’t account for the extended time with Korean immigration to actually get people off the ship. C’mon Royal, plan better. So we started late, then had to travel about an hour, forty-five minutes to Seoul. We went through the city then to the main temple grounds. We visited the Folk Museum which is small, but is very interesting. The grounds where the temple is located are very nice and we would like to have explored, but then the rains came….and stayed. We crowded under one of the decks for about 30 minutes while the downpour continued. When it finally let up, we were even more behind schedule and had to do a quick tour of the rest of the grounds. We finally got our lunch around 3:30 pm. We went to this extensive buffet (note my feelings about buffets above) and though the food was pretty good, it’s a buffet. Through with that, we went to the tourist trap shop to find trinkets and souvenirs. I’ve never encountered so many people selling crap that didn’t want to haggle. Of course my wife had to buy stuff, but we got away without feeling raped too bad. By this time it was 5:30 which was the time we were supposed to back at the ship. About half our tour wanted to bag the last stop at a street market and go back, but group all traveling together were outrageously obnoxious and demanding (and had been the whole tour) and commandeered our poor tour guide to take them there. So we spent 45 minutes in traffic so this group of people could spend 15 minutes in a street market for more junk. I refused to get off on principle as did many others. So after we finally got this crew back on the bus, we were of course smack in the middle of downtown rush hour traffic. Our trek back to the ship took about two and half hours and we didn’t get back until 8:30. The ship was to port out at 8:00 but waited for us and a few others delayed from the aforementioned immigration fiasco. However, I’m convinced we were the last bus as the ship started moving about 15 minutes later. To the folks on our bus that inconvenienced the rest of us….(Cruise Critic has suggested I remove my profanity laced rant). Beijing – We did the Wall. I climbed the Wall. It was hard, but it was cool. If you go to Beijing, you have to do the Wall. Our guide was cool and took us to a section not as tourist overrun, but the climb was very steep (49 floors on my FitBit). Amazing view though. We had stopped for lunch at this massive jade shop which I wish we had had more time before the Wall, but oh well. Oh and our driver was a complete jerk. This was our last stop, so just stayed at the hotel as we were flying back the next day Can’t have everything. If I did these cities again, I’d probably stay on the ship, except for Hong Kong, and maybe Seoul. Disembarkation: Very smooth, but I give our Genie credit. We had some issue getting our luggage tags as we were going on a tour the next day, but our Genie said not to worry, we won’t need tags, he will personally take care of our bags and put them is a special section for Star Class. True to his word, our bags were right where they needed to be. Our Genie escorted us off the ship, but due to some immigration screw up on his info, he could only get us to the immigration desk. He handed us off to another Royal crew member who took us straight to our bags, escorted us through Customs, and walked us to our coach for our tour. Whole process was about 15-20 minutes, which as great. Star Class Service and the Genie: there’s been a lot of chatter about this so I’ll tell you my experience. After experiencing Star Class, it will be hard to cruise any other way. You get tons of perks not least of which is the Ultimate Beverage package that if I had purchased for my wife and it would have probably been about $1,500 for a 12 day cruise. You also get all specialty and ala carte restaurants free. You get reserved seating at the shows with prime views. There is a whole list you can see on the website but the gist is the service is awesome. All this is compounded by having a Genie who basically is at your beck and call to do whatever. They will do the usual concierge stuff in terms of reservation, spa appointments, etc., but it was the other things that made it great. We were always escorted or met when disembarking, often around the lines. We got our minibar filled with whatever we wanted, sans hard liquor. One cool thing he did for my wife, who is a martial artist, is make two clubs (I’m pretty sure from a broomstick) to give to her so she could practice. She mentioned it to him, but didn’t have any real expectations. He showed up and brought them by while she was taking a nap (I was up) and it was a nice surprise. We also had issues in the spa (I had a funny incident do to someone taking my robe and me getting locked out of my locker), and the above issues on the excursions. He took it up with the management and got us a 20% voucher for us to apply on our next cruise; that was 20% of the cost of this trip, roughly $2,800. That’s pretty darn impressive service. There was a lot of questions about tipping the Genie. We tipped $600. This was a 12 night cruise and he did a lot for us. I was going to tip $500 but with what he did with the voucher, I bumped it up. Don’t know if there is a norm, but $40/day or $100/week/person seems about right as a starting point. You can make your own rules if you have a Genie. Finally, the Missing – This is my gripe paragraph. What we missed: no poker, no craps, not enough of the right type of slots for my wife, no art auctions (big deal for us as we really like to go to these), and a bit of the friendly Royal touch. I had not mentioned above, but overall the service was quite spotty. Not that people didn’t do their jobs, but there just seemed to be an attitude of “why are you bothering me” as well as service being slow in many of the restaurants. C’mon Royal, this is inexcusable. This is a bit of a generalization, and many crew we encountered were quite nice, but overall there seemed to be a courtesy lacking that I’m used to seeing on Royal ships. Not sure why, but I had many other cruisers tell me the same. Royal needs to fix this. Plenty of other ships to visit. Summary: Overall my wife and I really enjoyed this cruise. She had never been to Asia so it was an eye-opening experience for her. I think she came away with a great appreciation about how good we have it in the States. The ship is very nice, but as I said, different from other Royal ships so expect a few surprises. I know the Ovation will be going between Hong Kong and Australia, so probably some interesting itineraries. If you go, have a great time. I hope the above information was helpful. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We are a late 40s/early 50s couple who are relatively new to the cruise game, having only done two ocean cruises prior to embarking on the Scenic Spirit. Well, this cruise line and ship simply blew us away ! The ship is truly ... Read More
We are a late 40s/early 50s couple who are relatively new to the cruise game, having only done two ocean cruises prior to embarking on the Scenic Spirit. Well, this cruise line and ship simply blew us away ! The ship is truly stunning from top to bottom, from the pool deck to the self-service laundry (boring but essential in the SE Asian humidity), EVERYTHING was first-class. Welcome and Embarkation - We joined the tour at the Park Hyatt in in Siem Reap Cambodia, having spent a few days exploring the city on our own. The welcome was friendly and organised, and our bags were whisked away while we relaxed in the Park Hyatt lounge for half an hour or so before boarding the bus. About half of our fellow passengers had done the extended cruise with hotel and tours pre-cruise, so had gotten to know each other a little before we joined them. This wasn't a problem, though the 64 passengers were split into 3 groups, so for the first few days we tended to mix with "our group" only. After that, most passengers mixed with other groups. The name tags helped a great deal. It was quite a long bus trip from Siem Reap to the ship dock, around 5 hours, with a couple of stops, one for lunch. Passengers were around 80% fellow Aussies, with the remainder made up of Kiwis, US and Canadians. Ages ranged from 30s to 70s, with average around 60 years. This is not a cruise for children, and there were non on board. The Cabin - we had Suite 104, the most economical cabin on the lowest passenger deck, but there was nothing economical about the comfort, facilities or view out of the floor to ceiling windows. THE most comfortable (and adjustable) bed I have ever slept in (where can I buy one?). Spacious en suite (for a ship) with a very large, modern shower, L'Occitane products, excellent turbo hairdryer (these things are important !). Mirrors and storage everywhere, easily enough hanging space and drawers to store a month's worth of bits and bobs. Secure pin-safe in the drawer, complimentary mini-bar refreshed daily, bottles of water for drinking and brushing teeth. (Not a good idea to drink the water in Cambodia or Vietnam). The cabin had both a bedroom and sitting area, which could be partitioned with a sliding glass door to make the little balcony. We didn't actually use this at all because it was so hot and humid outside it just didn't seem worth it. The Crew - Scenic recruiters, you have nailed it ! Our crew could not have been more friendly, helpful and professional. From our fabulous butler Vibol (6.30am coffee and pastries, yes!) to Joyce (or Joy or Joyous, she was all of the above) the Cruise Director, everyone went out of their way to anticipate our wants and needs before we had even thought of them. We got quite close to Phalley, Lakeena, Thida and Makara, and yes there were tears at the end. Just the right mix of friendliness and professionalism, with a little bit of cheeky thrown in :-) Mao and Huy our Tour Directors were also amazing, knowledgeable, and always on the lookout for something that may make the experience more memorable. Shore Excursions - with only 64 passengers on board, there was minimal waiting when tours were taking place. The once or twice daily 2-4 hour tours were taken in small groups of ~20, and there was a mixture of the usual walking and bus transport, plus some other unusual options such as ox-carts, sampans and cyclos, which all added to the experience. Take comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to walk in heat and humidity; this hit us like a ton of bricks. Sunscreen, hats and water were a must. There was the occasional shower, and Scenic supplied large umbrellas, but I found my mini umbrella more convenient. Another tip: keep a small packet of tissues or toilet tissue with you, because the bathroom facilities (aka the Happy House) on the tours were often basic in the extreme. It was always a relief to come back to the ship to smiling faces, cool face towels, and the delicious cold drink of the day. Dining and Food - OMG, there was some seriously good food on this cruise. Mainly Asian inspired, but also western if you preferred. Breakfast and lunch were buffet, dinner was 5 course a la carte. The first night I had to do a few laps around the top deck track after dinner, it was all so delicious I couldn't say no ! The chef slow-cooked THE best pork belly on the planet, and there were some over the top wonderful inspirations such as olive ice-cream. The dining room had a mix of small, medium and large tables, so you were free to sit as a couple or with a group, it never felt crowded. Most had a lovely view out over the Mekong. There was one "gala" night on our cruise, and passengers were encouraged to glam it up a little. I would say about half made an effort, so no pressure to bring the ballgown or dinner suit, but one really nice outfit wouldn't go astray. The rest of the time it was quite casual. The ship offers 24 hour room service, so if you crave a hamburger at 2am, well yes you can have it ! Other Facilities: Thank god for the self-service laundry; we must have done 4 loads of washing during the week long cruise, because our clothes were soaked each time we came back from an outing. 3 really efficient washers and dryers, which only took around 1.5hrs to wash and dry. You can also request your clothes be washed for you, but this came at a cost eg. $6 for a paid of jeans. We didn't use the Spa, though others raved about it. Treatments were reasonably priced at $28 - $40, and booked out quickly on rainy days, so book at least a day ahead if you're keen for something special. We used the pool every day, which was heaven after a hot tour, and were often the only ones using it. There was a bar next to the pool for your complimentary cocktails and other drinks of choice. Those complimentary alcoholic drinks were free-flowing and generously served, dangerous ! It really was all-inclusive, at the end of the week I think I spent around $50 on souvenirs and small contributions to the communities we visited, nothing else, everything was included. Disembarkation - again, well organised and efficient. The ship docked early, and by 9am we were in busses and heading to the Park Hyatt in Saigon. This trip took around 2 hours, with a comfort stop along the way. We fare-welled the rest of the group who were continuing on with the extended tour, and caught a taxi to our Saigon Hotel to continue the rest of our holiday. Following our cruise, the Spirit was heading into a 3 week dry-dock to fix some issues with the flooring and other minor "warranty" issues, so it should be brand spanking gorgeous towards the end of June, ready for the next round of lucky passengers. I would highly recommend Scenic and this cruise in particular - we are already researching our next one. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016

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