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9 Azamara Osaka Cruise Reviews

Tough to tell whether this cruise is indicative of Azamara cruises, or is a bit mucked up because of pending dry dock issues. First the good. Even before remodeling, cabins and common areas are nice, food is quite good, staff very ... Read More
Tough to tell whether this cruise is indicative of Azamara cruises, or is a bit mucked up because of pending dry dock issues. First the good. Even before remodeling, cabins and common areas are nice, food is quite good, staff very friendly. Now reality. Cruise was shortened by three days, and Vietnam stop eliminated. We were notified ten days before taking off. We never received any information about where to board the ship in Osaka. Fortunately I had plowed through the Azamara web site prior to sailing to locate emparcation logistics. No luggage tags for boarding. Once again, I had printed out some samples that were labeled "Not for use as luggage tags," but which functioned fine. We had previously booked and paid for a Kyoto shore excursion. Just by chance we popped in the shore excursion line while waiting for our room to open up, and by accident found our excursion had been cancelled. No notification. Signed up for an alternative, and were able to secure last three spots. Were finally able to enter our room, found a land excursion packet informing us of cancelled excursion, but indication plenty of room on alternative tours. Not so. And so it went. This is our twelfth or so cruise, and first on Azamara. It is by far the least successful, and so far does not compare with trips on National Geographic, Voyages to Antiquity, or Regents. Target clientele appears to be elderly who are not particularly mobile. Shore excursions and guides are OK, but not exceptional. If you are an active person like we are, you may want to consider an alternative line. From an educational perspective, lectures are quite lacking. The Chinese lecturer on our cruise was excellent, but underutilized. The destination specific talks were more like commercials for Azamara partners. If your primary interest is shopping, this is good. If it is learning about history and culture, not of value. We were offered a 20% discount on a future cruise with Azamara due to elimination of Vietnam segment. Will have to really think whether this was a one off event or a normal level of service for Azamara. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This is about the Azamara Quest 16 night Asian cities and waterways cruise, leaving from Osaka Japan on March 17, 2016 and supposed to be ending in Singapore on April 2, 2016. First: this was a 16 night cruise which I booked one year ... Read More
This is about the Azamara Quest 16 night Asian cities and waterways cruise, leaving from Osaka Japan on March 17, 2016 and supposed to be ending in Singapore on April 2, 2016. First: this was a 16 night cruise which I booked one year ahead of time in order for my husband to secure time off. This is a cruise that leaves in the middle the week, and therefore my husband had to take off three weeks from work, but we were excited about the itinerary including Osaka Japan, Hiroshima Japan, Shanghai China, Hong Kong China, Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, and Singapore.. We were particularly excited about visiting Ho Chi Minh City – Saigon. The cruise was not inexpensive, however it was part of my bucket list – I didn't think I would be visiting Asia again. Two and 1/2 weeks before the cruise I got an email from my travel agency, telling me that because the cruise line needed to "dry dock" the ship a little longer, that Ho Chi Minh City would be removed from our itinerary, and the cruise would be shortened by three days!! Two weeks in advance? They didn't know this earlier? We were offered some money back and some discounts on future cruises. I do not plan to visit Asia again in my lifetime, and therefore this was a significant loss for me, The obvious disregard for the passengers was palpable. 2. The cruise line told me that I needed a valid passport, which expired no less than six months following the end of my cruise. There was no information about a required visa evident in the documents, and when I filled out my "Sea Pass" forms required for boarding, there was no mention about a visa either- just passport and credit card information. I therefore understandably assumed that all visa requirements would be dealt with by the cruise line as had been on the case on all other cruises I sailed on, which have been many.! Upon arrival in Shanghai, we were repeatedly reminded to bring our passports, photocopies of our passports with barcodes on them and our room key card. A visa was never mentioned. After leaving the ship and going through immigration, we were not permitted to enter Shanghai as we did not have a visa! We had to return to the ship and spend the two days in Shanghai watching limited television in our cabins. Perhaps the need for a visa in Shanghai was written somewhere in the small print, however there was no mention of it in any of the final documents I had to sign and review prior to the cruise. My passport information and credit card information was required in multiple locations. 3. A few other issues. The ship was decidedly in poor repair. I have to say that the crew on board were lovely, however the facilities were not. For example: During the first three nights there was an awful odor in my room interfering with my sleep. On the fourth day I noticed that the odor came from the carpet next to the side of my bed which smelled strongly from vomit. Over the next two days, the carpet was shampooed and dried, and the smell was improved. I was surprised that this was not cleaned prior to my arrival! There were additional problems with the cabin as well however I will not go into these at this time. All in all, this was an expensive cruise which was abruptly shortened without our knowledge even though it was clear that they must have known this earlier than we when we were told. As discussed above, two of the scheduled ports were eliminated. Given the expense and inconvenience that we suffered, I think that the cruise line should have offered more – possibly another way to include Vietnam in the cruise. At the very least, the need for a visa to visit Shanghai on a half day Azamara sponsored tour should have been clearly advised. I have been on multiple cruises from low-end to high-end, and I must say, I do nothing I will travel with Azamara again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We have cruised numerous times with Azamara and with Seabourn, taking price into consideration until now have enjoyed them equally. There were many problems on this cruise, the wine list was sadly depleted with several of the wines ... Read More
We have cruised numerous times with Azamara and with Seabourn, taking price into consideration until now have enjoyed them equally. There were many problems on this cruise, the wine list was sadly depleted with several of the wines advertised unavailable. The food was just okay, again several obvious items missing. Berries were frozen and mushy and the fruit and juices were never varied. Steaks overcooked and veal greasy and appeared deepfried. Wait staff training seems to have relaxed and waiters regularly walked away when being spoken to, reached in front of diners to retrieve dinnerware and on one occasion dropped dirty cutlery in my lap. Entertainment was dreary, bingo ball machine not working, and run through so fast by a crew member we could not understand that all enjoyment was lost. The Azamazing evening was a disgrace, held in a terminal hall with no atmosphere a few dreary performers and long lines for a caricature or calligraphy drawing. Within fifteen minutes they had run out of beer and white wine. Second half of the cruise the ship was invaded by workers filling the corridors with men, ladders, cables and removed wall and ceiling panels from morning to night making pleasant travel impossible. on the last day they pretty well dismantled most public areas making everyone feeling they couldn't wait to get rid of us. I could go on but will end by saying it is the first time I am pleased to be at the end of a cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Having cruised with Azamara before, without problems, decided upon this cruise over a year before sailing in order to enjoy a little of Japan, a little of China, a little of Vietnam and Singapore at the end. It was to be a 16 day cruise ... Read More
Having cruised with Azamara before, without problems, decided upon this cruise over a year before sailing in order to enjoy a little of Japan, a little of China, a little of Vietnam and Singapore at the end. It was to be a 16 day cruise that was suddenly reduced by the cruise line a few days before departure to 13 days by eliminating Vietnam in order to allow more time for the maintenance/modernization of the ship. For this, the company offered full reimbursement, which on hind site we should have accepted. Instead we opted for their offer of taking the reduced cruise and being reimbursed 3 days from the net cruise fare (excluding the corresponding amounts paid for insurance and fees, which we consider inappropriate). In addition, it offered a fixed amount equal to 20% of the net cruise fare for a future cruise, expiring in one year. What did we experience? (1) Our cabin air system (cooling and heating) did not operate properly during the 13 days, having to ask for technical assistance many times. At first, to warm the cabin, but then to cool it. We really did not get a good night cool sleep until the very last night of the cruise. (2) The internet was the worst we have experienced in our more than 15 years of cruising with several cruise lines on many different ships -- too slow, not enough broadband capacity, intermittent and unreliable. (3) Fresh fruits were very limited or absent in all meal offerings, such as papaya, mango, avocado and many other Asian fruits that should have been easily available from the countries visited. At breakfast, for example, all berries were from cans, never fresh, and nuts were nowhere to be seen. The only fresh fruits were bananas, melons, watermelons, pineapples and kiwis on a few occasions. But no fresh berries, no papaya, no mango, etc. And never avocados, except on a very few occasions attached to salads. The salad selection was, however, acceptable. (4) Entertainment (live and television) was limited, not very good quality and with very limited choices. Live dancing shows were very good, but to enjoy them one had to arrive some 10 to 15 minutes early because the seating arrangement is inappropriate, all seats are at the same level. Television entertainment was very limited, especially classical music which was very repetitive. (5) Not content with the 3 days cut to begin work on the ship on dry dock earlier, a few days before arriving at Singapore the ship was invaded by dozens of technicians to begin installing cables throughout the entire ship, causing havoc and confusion among passengers, interrupting corridors on all decks and worst, interrupting communications and electric services several times. (6) The special Azamazing evening, although transferred from Vietnam to Hong Kong, was treated as a private function by Azamara, not as the public function announced and promoted with equal consideration for all. Some 200 passengers received special discriminatory treatment by providing them the best seats privately, on a reserved basis, while giving the remaining passengers the impression that the event was open to all on an equal basis. One wonders if the next step for Azamara (Royal Caribbean) will be to provide reserved seats for selected passengers on the tour buses, or the nightly entertainment shows, or the dining rooms at breakfast, lunch and dinner, etc. etc. Conclusion - Royal Caribbean has an insurmountable obstacle in front if it wants to use Azamara to compete with the luxury cruise ships of other cruise lines. We do want to praise most of the crew and attendants, who were always very friendly and showed willingness to assist in resolving issues and helping the best they could. Special mention to all members of the Reception Desk, to waiters and bartenders, and to the cabin attendants. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Having cruised with Azamara 4 times before and having just completed the 16 night CUT to 13 night Asia cruise on Azamara Quest we felt it necessary to post this review: 1. We did not receive any communication from Azamara regarding the ... Read More
Having cruised with Azamara 4 times before and having just completed the 16 night CUT to 13 night Asia cruise on Azamara Quest we felt it necessary to post this review: 1. We did not receive any communication from Azamara regarding the shortening of the cruise - found this out by accident whilst checking the shore excursions on line, a few days before flying out 2. 'Azamazing evening' was abysmal - held in a sterile passenger terminal - a direct result of the culling of Ho Chi Minh city from the itinerary 3. Overall the food was not up to the expected standard 4. In Hong Kong we were docked about 1hour from the city making the return trip to the ship about 2 hours - lost sightseeing time. Our overnight in Singapore was also cut. 5. The number of workman on board the ship felt like we were already in dry dock renovation time 6. Despite receiving a net refund for the lost 3 days, no real compensation has been forthcoming for time/stress incurred, expense of rebooking 3 days in Singapore or associated booking fees & taxes for the cruise We are extremely disappointed with the manner in which Azamara has handled this whole situation. Azamara should treat their customers sympathetically and pay real compensation to win back their disillusioned clients! Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
I don't usually write reviews but feel it necessary to adjust the balance in the light of so many negative reviews. I am beginning to think we were on a different cruise! Like everyone else on our cruise we were disappointed when ... Read More
I don't usually write reviews but feel it necessary to adjust the balance in the light of so many negative reviews. I am beginning to think we were on a different cruise! Like everyone else on our cruise we were disappointed when we learned the voyage was to be shortened by three days and missing the call to Vietnam; but we decided to make the most of our hard earned holiday and take each day on its own merits. From the moment of embarkation we were not disappointed. The food was of a consistently high standard; included drinks were good quality and plentiful and most importantly all the staff on board were helpful, cheerful and professional. Our suite was excellent, a little tired in places but what else can you expect the week before a refit. We were pleasantly surprised by how little disruption we experienced due to work being carried out in advance of dry dock. I won't pretend it wasn't happening but it didn't interfere with our day. Our biggest disappointment was the change of dock in Hong Kong. Instead of walking from the ship into the centre of town we had a 20 minute bus trip which was not ideal. The reason was obviously to load supplies for dry dock but was elaborately explained away by Azamara, this lack of honesty was disappointing. Overall we had a wonderful holiday and our extra 3 days in Singapore made up for the loss of Vietnam and have had no hesitation in booking future cruises with Azamara. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
READ THIS BEFORE YOU TRUST AZAMARA CRUISE CLUB. Firstly, we went to our travel agents to enquire about a cruise to Asia on Celebrity Cruise Lines as we have cruised with them before. As it turned out they were totally booked for the ... Read More
READ THIS BEFORE YOU TRUST AZAMARA CRUISE CLUB. Firstly, we went to our travel agents to enquire about a cruise to Asia on Celebrity Cruise Lines as we have cruised with them before. As it turned out they were totally booked for the period we were seeking. It was suggested, as an alternative that we look at Azamara Club Cruises. Oh, how I wish we hadn't done so. Honestly, it was the worst travel decision we have ever made. It was absolutely disgusting, to say the least. When we first looked into it we came across a 16 night cruise starting in Osaka and finishing in Singapore on the Quest which was supposedly being offered at half price.($10,998 for a balcony stateroom for my wife and myself) The travel agent was so excited because she said she had never seen Azamara advertised at such a low price. The more we looked at it the more excited we became as it was said to us that we would have the experience of a lifetime. How right she was, it was the most disappointing travel experience we have ever had. Two weeks before departure we were contacted and advised that our cruise would be reduced by 3 nights as Azamara wanted to put the ship into dry dock 3 days earlier then expected for refurbishment. (We were aware that the ship was to be refurbished at our cruises completion) We were also advised that Ho Chi Min City would no longer be part of our itinerary. We were told that we would be reimbursed for the 3 nights with the exemption of our gratuities and port taxes. (I don't know who got to keep the taxes for a port that we did not enter) We decided to except this reduction because we had booked accomodation in Tokyo and Kyoto pre cruise and had pre booked flights etc. so we would have lost too much money if were to cancel. After embarking in Osaka all passengers were gathered for the safety muster which is compulsory for everybody onboard in case of an emergency. Sitting next to me were several men who appeared to be dressed in some kind of uniform. I latter realised this was their work uniform as they began work straight after the muster was complete. As it turned out, Azamara, in their wisdom had decided to occupy the vacant staterooms (created by cancelations due to the reduction of nights) with contractors/tradesmen so that they could begin the refurbishment over the duration of the entire cruise. I can't begin to explain here what a nightmare this cruise was with all of the banging, drilling and obstacles we had to put up with for the entire cruise. (We have plenty of photographic evidence to support what we experienced) One of Azamara's claim to fame is that they can get their ships to ports that other cruise lines can't, due to the small size of the ship. (This is one of their main selling points) Well this wasn't so in Hong Kong. We were docked at the Old Airport Terminal wharf which after a very long walk through the terminal and then about a 40 - 50 minute shuttle bus ride to the Ocean Terminal Wharf, the terminal where we should have docked in the first place. The reason we docked at the Airport Terminal was so that Azamara could continue to carry out refurbishment works. Once again we have photographic evidence witnessing Azamara staff discarding of the soft furnishings from our staterooms (They disappeared about mid cruise and were not replaced) and laundry equipment, etc. being thrown overboard into rubbish skip bins on the wharf. They would not have been able to carry out works of this scope at the Ocean Terminal due to lack of space available. Our stateroom fridge was emptied by staff with 3 days remaining. When we asked why this happened, they told us that they didn't think we wanted to use it. There was one day when we were laying by the pool and contractors were dragging electrical cables along the deck amongst the passengers. On other occasions we couldn't leave our staterooms because the hallways were blocked both ways by contractors with ladders and spools of cables and tools. These are just some of the occurrences that we had to put up with for the duration. Then to top the whole thing off. When we disembarked in Singapore, Azamara informed us that due to the reduction of the cruise, they would as an extra gesture, set up one of their staff at our hotel to organise any shore excursions that we might want to take. Thinking that we would take advantage of this we decided to make a booking for a night safari excursion to the zoo on the following evening. When we arrived back at the hotel, 1 hour before the excursion was to leave, we found a note under our hotel door stating that the excursion had been cancelled due to lack of numbers. It was too late to try to organise another excursion so we just lost another night. Nothing but disappointment after disappointment right to the very end. I nearly forgot to mention the Azamazing Night in Hong Kong. This is supposed to be of a cultural essence pertaining to the country of port. It was set up in a large room in The Airport Terminal, Hong Kong. (Very sterile room with rows of chairs on a flat floor) If you were more than four rows back you couldn't see what was happening. In the end it was more like a group carrying out various party tricks. A party without drinks, as the drinks ran out well before the show was over. Not that we stayed until the end as we and most other guest left before it was over. (Not very cultural at all) Honestly, if you are thinking of taking a cruise. Don't go near Azamara. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This 27 day venture was both a touristic and educational experience. Traveling from Miami to Kansai International airport (KIX) in Osaka via Frankfurt avoided additional plane changes in the US and Japan. Flight path diversions were made ... Read More
This 27 day venture was both a touristic and educational experience. Traveling from Miami to Kansai International airport (KIX) in Osaka via Frankfurt avoided additional plane changes in the US and Japan. Flight path diversions were made to avoid flying over the Ukraine and North Korea. A Limited Express train from KIX to JR Kyoto provided direct connection to our room in the Hotel Granvia located directly above this modern station. Kyoto is the 7th largest city in Japan and was the imperial capital of Japan for over 1000 years. It is the cultural capital of the country with numerous Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, often located together. Although about 80% of Japanese are secular, many are influenced by these ancient beliefs and celebrate them in a secular way. Secretary of War Stimson (who had spent his honeymoon in Kyoto) urged President Truman to spare Kyoto from the A-bomb since it had such cultural significance. Using public transportation, our guide Ken Sakurai took us to various temples and shrines on a two day tour including Nanzen-ji Sannen-zaka, Yasaka shrine, the Gion area, Tofuku-ji Fushimi Inari shrine and Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Pavilion covered with gold leaf), Kitano Jingu shrine and the Bamboo Grove in the Arashiyama & Sagano area. Riding the JR local train to the shrine provided more local color. Ken also provided guidance for our visits to Osaka, Hiroshima and Miyajima. Returning to Osaka to board the Azamara Quest at Tempozan Port via JR Special Rapid provided another look at the efficient Japanese rail system. Osaka is a very modern city. Overnight aboard the ship provided time to see the nightlife district (Dotonbori) and the famous Osaka Aquarium before departure for Hiroshima. At Hiroshima we boarded the high speed ferry for the island of Miyajima to view the Great Torii gate - one of the most famous landmarks in Japan. It appears floating in the water at high tide. This island is also home to a herd of tame deer as well as the Itsukushima Shrine and Diasho-In Temple at the foot of Mt Misen. We did not have the time to take the ropeway or to climb to the top of the mountain. We did not have quite enough time to walk from our ship to the ferry for our reservation. The volunteers at the port drove us to the ferry without compensation. This was an example of the courtesy of the people of Japan. We viewed the A Dome and Peace Park in Hiroshima – a sobering reminder of the horrors of war. Japan now has a population of 126 million, expected to decline to 100 million in 2050 and 67 million by 2100. Although it is the world’s 3rd largest economy, it is now stuck in a cycle of stagflation. Our next port of call was Shanghai, a vibrant city of 23 million and the center of Chinese commerce. Our smaller ship was able to navigate the Huangpu river and dock near the famous Bund. Our guide for the day – Jean Liu – took us to the old city where the street vendors preserve the old market open-air market traditions. These areas of the city are being replaced by larger more modern structures to accommodate the growing population. We then toured the famous Yuyuan Gardens built in the Ming Dynasty over 400 years ago by a merchant who wanted a suitable place for his parents to retire. We also saw the Jade Buddha Temple built to contain two jade Buddha statues from Burma and the old French Concession area, now an upscale dining and shopping area. Jean provided an excellent narrative for each place we visited. Jean provided a driver so that we could visit more places than would be feasible with merely a walking tour. The next day In Peoples Square we toured the free Shanghai Museum that contains collections of ancient Chinese bronze, jade, ceramics and sculpture among its many collections. We also saw A Chinese Acrobatic show in the evening. There are several venues in Shanghai for this show. The performers were quite talented and reminded me of the high wire acts in the old Ringling Brothers circus. Viewing the new Pudong area with the Oriental Pearl Tower directly across the river from our ship at night was awesome. Twenty years ago this area was mot much more than a swamp. Today it is the commercial center of mainland China. We took the modern efficient subway to Pudong and the elevator to the 95th floor of the “Bottle Opener”. Fortunately, there was little pollution to obscure the view. Traveling in Shanghai you must be aware of various schemes like the infamous “tea scammers” who also approached us. It is not wise to talk with strangers, just pretend that you don’t speak English. China has made great strides in the past 30 years with rising incomes and market-oriented reforms. Yet China has many problems to solve including pollution, political corruption, and poverty especially in the outlying regions. The rising middle class is now traveling in great numbers and overwhelming the tourist areas throughout Asia. Major cruise lines are repositioning some of their larger vessels to Asia to capture this market. Our next stop was Hong Kong – a territory on the South China Sea bordering Guangdong province. It is a leading financial, business and cultural hub. Most of the residents are Chinese but there are still a significant number of expatriates. Our ship was small enough to dock at Ocean Terminal in Victoria Harbor adjacent to the Star Ferry in Kowloon. This convenient location allowed us to use the Hop-On Hop-Off (HOHO) buses as the primary mode of sightseeing. After crossing to Hong Kong Island on the Star Ferry, we boarded the RED HOHO route for an early tram ride to Victoria Peak before the midday crowds. This vantage point allows a view of all areas of the city. Transferring there to the GREEN route, we passed Stanley Market and alighted at Aberdeen for a sampan ride. Seeing these old boats that serve as fishermen’s homes with residential skyscrapers as a backdrop as well as passing the famous Jumbo Floating Restaurant was interesting. After touring the Hong Kong Maritime Museum, we returned to Kowloon. The evening laser show on the skyscrapers was a backdrop to the White Night party on the deck or our ship. The next day we used the HOHO BLUE route to tour Kowloon. This densely packed area is the site of much new construction. After riding the Star Ferry one hour harbor tour on a replica of the ferries that plied the harbor in the 1920’s, we walked the Avenue of the Stars and spent considerable time at a Chinese cultural dance performance with dancers from various areas in highly decorated native costume. Our next stop was Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon). Our ship was able to navigate the twisting Saigon River and docked in the heart of the city. Larger ships require guests to travel two hours to the city from a container port. We did not expect to see a booming metropolis with skyscrapers. There were newly constructed high-rise apartment projects along the river. Additional land has been cleared for more of the same. If we came back to the city within the next five to ten years it may look like the Florida coastline from Palm Beach to Miami. That evening we celebrated the AzAmazing Evening at Binh Quoi Village on the outskirts of the city. This is a standard event for each Azamara cruise. The ship staff transports all the passengers to this memorable event with local entertainers. Our next day in Ho Chi Minh City included guided visits to the Unification Hall – the former Presidential Palance where a North Vietnamese tank crashed through the front gates ending the Vietnam War, the History Museum illustrating the cultures of Vietnam from the bronze age to the present, Notre Dame Cathedral dating from the 19th century, the old French Post Office, and the Thien Hau Temple dedicated to the Goddess Protector of Sailors. We lunched at a restaurant where Bill Clinton dined and his picture is prominently displayed. We also saw the Rex Hotel where General Westmoreland gave his infamous “we see light at the end of the tunnel” daily briefings. We would not attempt to navigate this city of 10 million without a guide. Crossing the streets with 7 million cycles going in every direction is not for the timid. Our guide zemman02@yahoo.com led us safely through the maze. We did however take an hour long rickshaw ride through the midst of this mayhem. The history of the disastrous Vietnam War is much more complicated than our leaders informed us at the time. After WW2 the French tried to reinstate colonial rule and were soundly defeated at Dien Bien Phu. They were 80% funded by the U.S. The Geneva accords of 1954 called for a temporary partition of the country with national elections to be held in two years. A corrupt puppet - Ngo Dinh Diem was installed in the south but refused to hold the election since he was widely despised and knew he could never win. Ho Chi Minh, although nominally Communist, was really a nationalist who saw Communism as a way out of imperialism. He actually quoted Thomas Jefferson in his writings. In 1945 he asked President Truman for help but was ignored. His forces created the Ho Chi Minh trail and tunnels bringing weapons to the south. President Johnson escalated the war but realized it was not winnable and didn’t run in 1968 to be the first Democrat to lose a war. Nixon and Kissinger were looking for a graceful exit but after the pictures of naked children being burned by napalm and agent orange killing civilians caused worldwide outrage, the war effort collapsed. It is sad that we never learn by our mistakes – if only Bush and Cheney had read history before leashing their immoral war in Iraq! It is ironic that Boeing, whose planes bombed Vietnam, has now opening an airplane door factory in Hanoi. Our port of debarkation was Singapore – an ultra-efficient modern island city-state at the tip of the Malay Peninsula with a population approaching 7 million in less than 300 square miles. How Singapore came from a British colonial backwater to having one of the highest per capita income in the world is due primarily to one man – Lee Kuan Yew who died at 91 in March 2015. Squatters were living on public land and in shantytowns with limited hygiene. There were race riots between the Chinese and Malay factions. There were others, including Indians who made up a significant share of the population. Singapore was forced to leave the Malaysian Federation in 1965. Except for some colonial buildings downtown, the city was a complete mess. Lee was able to form a strongman government to take charge. He went about nation building by having the various ethnic groups blended into public housing. He was instilling a sense that we are Singaporeans, not various ethnic blocs. The campaigns against spitting and chewing gum in the streets are well known. Singapore’s strategic location along the Strait of Malacca allowed it to develop into the world’s most important port. Investments in education and compulsory voting have resulted in a highly motivated skilled workforce. High tech manufacturing and financial services account for a significant portion of the economy. The government is highly autocratic. When Lee feared a burgeoning population, he instituted a to child limit per family. When he saw that the most educated were not marrying, he sponsored “love boat” cruises to encourage marriage. When using public transportation to ride the Singapore Flyer (huge Ferris wheel) and to attend the famous Night Safari at the zoo, we saw the immaculately clean subways and people queuing up in line at bus stops. On a half day guided taxi tour to Changi airport with Eason Lim (Lin Yisheng) we visited a few temples including the Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore, the iconic Merlion (lion head, fish body), Raffles Hotel (home of the Singapore Sling), viewed the new Marina Bay Sands hotel – a three structure complex with a structure in the shape of a boat atop and connecting all three. Our layovers at Changi airport were more like visiting a tourist attraction than sitting in a terminal waiting for a plane. There a garden displays and a rooftop swimming pool and gym in each of the three terminals, butterfly and cactus gardens and a koi fish pond where tourists could actually feed the fish. Our final destination was Siem Reap Cambodia and the famous Angkor Wat temple complex. We were surprised to see Air Force One on the tarmac until we found out the Michelle Obama was in town for a three day conference on women after having visited Japan. We were glad that she had visited Angkor Wat the day before we did since her visit caused some disruption in normal tourist traffic. This temple complex in the ancient city of Angkor Thom dates from the 11th century and was built primarily by Jayavarman VII one of the most forceful and productive kings of the Khmer empire. Originally built as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu, it was converted into a Buddhist temple in the 14th century, and statues of Buddha were added to its already rich artwork. After the Thai’s invaded, Angkor was despoiled and disappeared into the jungle until 19th century European discovery. It was closed again in the 1950’s during the Vietnam War. In addition to Angkor Wat – the largest religious building in the world, the complex contains many structures including the Bayon (a stone mountain of ascending peaks), Phimeanakas, Baphuon, and the Elephant Terrace. Ta Prohm temple was left in its natural state surrounded by jungle as it appeared when rediscovered. The 2001 movie Tomb Raider was filmed at this site. Touring this vast complex provides some insight to the power of this ancient empire. Some of the temples contain holes in the walls where precious gems were installed. The main temple is very busy all day with visitors lining up to see the sunrise on one side of the temple and in the evening to see the golden sheen created by the sunset. Some of the lesser temples afford more leisurely viewing. Our local guide Sok Dat Soy and our driver Ang Vuthy took us around for two days in an air conditioned car. Many visitors ride the open air tuk-tuks that are much less comfortable during the heat of the day. We stayed at the boutique Pavilion d Orient Hotel including two large swimming pools that provided a respite from the midday heat. The larger hotels are overrun with visitors from China and Korea. They are now constructing a very large hotel on the infamous killing fields of the Maoist Pol Pot from 1975 to 1979. Of all the countries visited, Cambodia with a population of only 14 million is by far the most “third world”. However, the people are generally friendly and helpful. In summary, this trip was a most rewarding experience. The upscale Amazara Quest provided a high end experience and I highly recommend it compared to other lines on which we traveled. It was like sailing with family. The officers and crew at all levels were most helpful and efficient. We met some very nice people on the cruise and look forward to traveling with them again on Azamara.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was not the best cruise we have been on. We were in a suite on deck 8 and it was clearly not worth the price. Every morning we were wakened between 6:00 and 6:30 by banging of tables and chairs in the pool deck over our heads. The gap ... Read More
This was not the best cruise we have been on. We were in a suite on deck 8 and it was clearly not worth the price. Every morning we were wakened between 6:00 and 6:30 by banging of tables and chairs in the pool deck over our heads. The gap under our door was large enough that hall noise disturbed us and the whistle of the wind reminded us of an Oklahoma tornado. We had to roll up a towel and cram under the door to reduce the noise to a more acceptable level. The tub was raised too high and I had to shower bent over. Lighting was poor and there was only a single plug-in available for curling irons or charging electronics. Service on the Journey was noticeably better than the Quest. Often our water glass was often empty and there were long pauses before you could get your wine glass filled. Not all tables, some had superb waiters but many were not as capable. Shore excursions were usually not worth their high cost. We took a few walking tours (our favorites) but groups were too large and you rarely could hear the tour guide. None of them used electronic devices such as a radio and ear buds for tour members. I have no idea why such a simple thing was not available. Often there were guests that had limited walking ability on a tour defined as strenuous. This shortened the tour as much time was spent waiting and made it boring. They need tours that cater to people with limited motor skills, especially given the age demographic that is always on their ships. Enjoyed the tours in Shanghai and Singapore and Hong Kong. The rest they could have kept. Interesting that several very senior officers and often the captain of the Journey met passengers returning from shore excursions. Made you feel valuable. Didn't happen on the Quest. The food was good as was bar service. Speciality restaurants were satisfactory but could use a little more diversity in their menus. Cabin steward and butler were fantastic (as they seem to be on every cruise we've ever been on). Shows were pretty much exactly what we saw on the Journey ten months earlier. The band drown out the stars and the drummer drowned out the band. Not very good quality. The ship is due for a refit so maybe it'll improve. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
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