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224 Beijing to Asia Cruise Reviews

Having previously read bad reviews before travelling, we feel it is only right to set the record straight regarding this particular sailing. Like may others reading the poor reviews regarding the ship, we were very apprehensive before ... Read More
Having previously read bad reviews before travelling, we feel it is only right to set the record straight regarding this particular sailing. Like may others reading the poor reviews regarding the ship, we were very apprehensive before travelling but these turned out to be unfounded. We started on a 9 day land tour of China with Wendy Wu tours which was fabulous. (see separate review) Upon arrival at Tianjin Cruise terminal along with 1000’s of other guests the whole process was fairly smooth and within 45 minutes we were on the ship. Sadly this cannot be said for some guests travelling on 72 hour visa’s where entry to China was refused from 2 days before up to sailing day with no valid reason given. Many flew home and some flew to the next port awaiting the arrival of the ship. This was very distressing for all concerned. To date, no explanation has been provided. Once on, what a total surprise. We have sailed on most of the different class of Royal ship’s and this was different again. It was spotlessly clean, light and airy and totally ready for 1000’s of Western cruisers. In fact the captain’s stats declared we had less than 100 Chinese travellers. Totally the opposite to the reviews we had read. Before we boarded, the ship had a total overhaul of staff, menu’s, restaurant names and Cruise Director (Ken totally nailed it) and entertainment staff. This was a 12 day repositioning cruise to Singapore before going to dry dock for 1 month then spending the winter season in this area. Many ports had not seen a ship this large and bravo to the Captain on being able to get into the ports. These included Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam (2 ports) and Singapore. Originally our time slot for Hong Kong was 7am til 2am the following morning but sadly this was cut short to 5pm due to the continuing protests. The shuttle stop provided by Royal Caribbean was at one of the MRT stations which closed at 4pm due to ongoing protest so making it back to the ship became quite hairy! We just made it with 10 mins to spare. However on the plus side, we sailed out of Hong Kong as it got dark which really was a sight to see from a ship. The best view in our opinion. The rest of the ports lived up to expectations and the excursions with Royal that we did do were well organised and fabulous. Our cabin was perfect size for the little amount of time we spent there. All the restaurants were easily booked and seemed to improve as the week went on. Mostly the entertainment was great particularly the INXS tribute band. Sun beds on sea days was difficult if you did not get up by 8am to grab one,However, crew were going around and removing towels if no-one had been back to the beds within the hour. We were lucky enough to witness a terrific storm at sea at 4am on the way to Hong Kong and we have never seen rain like it in Vietnam but this, because it was so hot, just made it more of a memory. So the moral of the story is to not believe everything you read, go with an open mind and do some research before you sail. On a final note, the icing on the cake for this sailing was our captain. Captain Sindre. What a star. He was to be seen everywhere on the ship, not shy with the cameras and spending time with all guests. The land tour and then the cruise really made this a trip of a lifetime! Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We sailed on Quantum of the seas on a repositioning cruise from Tianjin Beijing to Singapore on 7th Oct 19. the ship is huge but well laid out and we didn’t get lost once. We spent 2 nights in Beijing then 2 hour taxi to Tianjin Port. ... Read More
We sailed on Quantum of the seas on a repositioning cruise from Tianjin Beijing to Singapore on 7th Oct 19. the ship is huge but well laid out and we didn’t get lost once. We spent 2 nights in Beijing then 2 hour taxi to Tianjin Port. Boarding was smooth enough though and room keys were in the room. We had a junior suite so plenty of room and a large balcony with loungers on it. All the staff were as you would expect cheery and very helpful. We don’t use the main dining rooms as it’s not our thing and prefer the informality and time flexibility of the windjammer. Food in the windjammer was very repetitive with the same dishes most nights and temperature varied from cold to warm but never hot. Breakfast was pandemonium as all the tables were usually taken with folk sitting to keep the table while their companion went to the buffet. I once had my cornflakes while leaning against the bar.The toast arrangement needs a rethink as you order what you want and the server puts it on the grill for you. (why not build up a bit of a stock when quieter as it works with other ships) A lot of excursions came back about 4 just as the windjammer closed and so everyone ended up in the 270 café which is tiny. As the ship is so huge it has to dock in commercial ports miles outside of town and busses have to be used most of the time. Prices of drinks were astronomical, a bottle of corona was $7 plus the tip of course = $8.50 which means you would have to have nearly 6 a day, every day to break even on the $48 a day inc tip drinks package price. For me not worth it. They also ran out of Fosters cans on the 4th day. As usual bar service was very slow as the bar tenders were usually busy mixing cocktails or waiting on people reading the list before deciding which cocktail to have. There are not nearly enough sun loungers or enough space to put more of them so causes mayhem on sea days with some being reserved from 7am and nobody on them most of the day. Entertainment was ok. The two bands were excellent, Daren Day was very talented, the theatre shows were all good except for the Australian comedian who was not even amusing. This was our first RCI cruise for 5 years and we enjoyed out holiday but won’t rush back. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We will not write too much about the horrible Immigration to China on 4th of October. We needed 7 hours after a long distance flight from Europe to get the 144 hours Visa and to find the luggagev( which was elsewhere) and then getting a ... Read More
We will not write too much about the horrible Immigration to China on 4th of October. We needed 7 hours after a long distance flight from Europe to get the 144 hours Visa and to find the luggagev( which was elsewhere) and then getting a shuttle to our hotel to start the 2 days program in Beijing before cruise started on October 7th. It was not a good entrance policy of China to send so many people home. Ur was really like a nightmare to experience the weeping and horrifying people who were prevented from entering without giving any reason, even though they had booked hotel proof and cruise.. Certainly not a dsplomatic and certainly even promising future method of China to promote for Chinese tourism But now the cruise: we wrote the very bad reviews before we started. We can say, we experienced the Quantum very differently. Mostly British, Germans, Americans and Australiens we're onboard. A very small group of Chinese travellers. The service was always very good. The crew members were very friendly, helpfully and kind and attentively. We stopped the visit if Windjammer at once. It was always full and loud, tried the some mornings having breakfast in one of the main restaurants. That was good but needed more time to get all orders completed. Not good for days worth excursions. So we just did not enjoy the small Solarium Bistro restaurant. That was perfect. Omelette or eggs over easy were brought to the table and other staff could found in the buffet. Tee, coffee, Juice werde served as well but also in self-service. In the Grande Restaurant we had our dinner, first course. Wonderfully because mostly less then 40% guests.. very good service. Our waiter was the lovely Guiyan with her second waiter Kevin. Both brilliant, full if energy, always attentively. We enjoyed the good variety of offers in meals well arranged and hit served. Very good. Our Cabin attendant was perfect. Thanks Man( cabine number 11612. The cabin was good maintained. Room enough for us. Good balcony often used. We are early riser. So we always found layers in the solarium deck. Wonderfully and quiet.But it is a bad habit to lay out towels and block couches without using them. We normally go our personal way with excursions. This time we booked for Taipei, Hongkong, Hue and Saigon. . All Tours organised from RCL where perfect. Good guides, good busses and driver, water, raincoats and mass of informations.. The tours were worth the money. Fukuoka we did alone. For us in walking distance to make a sightstiour around the temples. In Singapore as well we made our one tour with MRT and bus. Wonderful town. The time in Hongkong was too short. iIt was the captain's decision not to risk anything because of the demonstrations that started again in the evening. After all, we saw the Hong Kong skyline leaving at night. Hopefully we can come back in an open and peaceful Hongkong! We can only feel positive. Only the drinks packages are unreasonably expensive and correspondingly just individual drinks .. This is a pity and with celebrity ider my ship erhebluch better regulated.. The entertainment program was absolutely brilliant. Inkx, Aussie Boys, Darren Day, Barricade Boys- all 10 points. The lectures of Andrew Gregson a Must for us. interesting and witty with wit and knowledge Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We chose this particular cruise for the ports of call, none of which we have been to before and also the chance to see the sights around Beijing before the cruise. It all started out so normally. An Emirates flight from Dublin to Dubai ... Read More
We chose this particular cruise for the ports of call, none of which we have been to before and also the chance to see the sights around Beijing before the cruise. It all started out so normally. An Emirates flight from Dublin to Dubai and onto Beijing Capital airport, arriving mid afternoon on what became a date written in infamy.....October 4th. After landing in Beijing, I was able, through a VPN to access Facebook (banned in China like a lot of things). There is a dedicated page for the October 7th cruise and it advised that Chinese Immigration was randomly refusing entry to travellers who were applying for the 144 Hour Transit visa. As our party of four was hoping to enter China this way, it was a very worrying time. After completing the fingerprint process we lined up at the Transit Visa desk and witnessed what can only be described as the start of a nightmare for the unfortunates who were refused entry, with no reason being given. After more than 2 hours we reached the desk and all of us were granted the visa. It was a pure lottery. On the ship later we heard stories of families being split up. some allowed entry with the rest refused and given till midnight to leave China or face arrest. Many intrepids managed to fly to Japan to join the ship two days late in Fukuoka , at great cost, as the airlines raised the prices astronomically. Others just gave up and flew home. Heartbreaking. After seeing the sights of Beijing, Great Wall. Forbidden City etc, we took the Bullet train to Tianjin West on the morning of the cruise, then a taxi. The Cruise port at Tianjin is modern and well laid out. Embarkation was quick and painless and we were onboard within 30 minutes of arrival. For the past few months, Quantum has been doing Round trip cruises from Tianjin to Japan with a mainly Chinese/Asian clientel. This cruise had 2500 from the UK, 500 from Germany, 300 from USA and about 600 from everywhere else. All the signs on the ship are in English and Chinese and the majority of the crew were also Chinese. Having cruised on the sister ship, Anthem of the Seas last year, we knew our way around. The cabins and public areas were in good condition as you would expect. Diamond members and above were well catered for in the Music Hall. Dining.... I dont want to appear to be critical but overall, the quality of food at Dinner in the MDR (We were Second sitting in Chic) was not near the standard of previous cruises. Indeed on the second night ,in conjunction with our table mates from the UK, we called for the Maitre D and complained about the food quality and the fact that dinner did not end till 1030 on that particular night. It was obvious the restaurant was understaffed. In all fairness, the service improved dramatically, as did the food on occassion, but it was still not what it should be, Entertainment.... 7/10 would be generous. A distinct lack of 'killer' shows, A couple of decent acts like Darren Day and a good Beatles tribute act. Some decent music in Boleros from the house bands. The CD, Ken Jones was ok. Probably the most entertaining spot was the Destination Lectures by an Australian Barrister called Andrew Gregson, who drew great crowds to the theatre each time he appeared. His wife also gave very interesting talks in 270 on a variety of subjects such as the History of Champagne and Henry VIII. Ports of Call.. Fukuoka , Japan... Lovely city with friendly natives. Tapei. Taiwan. Modern , affluent, and the 101 Tower. Hong Kong. Visit cut short by 8 hours due to unrest, Fascinating city. Not enough time there; Chan May (Da Nang) Vietnam. Port in the middle of nowhere, Torrential mosoon weather should have curtailed our excursion here. It was physically dangerous. Phu My ( Ho Chi Minh) Totally bonkers place with thousand s of mopedfs. Crossing the road an unforgettable experience. Did the Cu Chi tunnels which were fascinating. Singapore. Hot. humid, expensive. This cruise probably deserves a 3.5 rather than a 4. The crew seemed inexperienced and lacked guidance. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Cruise provided 1) enjoyable and educational excursions. 2) a lot of history. 3) a good understanding of modern China. 4) a great sense of hstory of Okinawa. All accommodations,food, spa and exercise equipment were impeccable. We ... Read More
Cruise provided 1) enjoyable and educational excursions. 2) a lot of history. 3) a good understanding of modern China. 4) a great sense of hstory of Okinawa. All accommodations,food, spa and exercise equipment were impeccable. We enjoyed numerous on board lectures: history, shipping, and NASA/space travel. We did a river cruise on Viking Rurik, Waterway of the Czars (Oct 2018). W e really enjoyed that trip. We were very pleased with the Viking experience. We wanted to try an ocean cruise in Asia. Our experience on Viking Orion was as satisfying as the trip on Viking Rurik. We anticipate we will take another Viking cruise in the 24 months. The variety of excursions was wonderful. We did as many as we could. We visited temples, mosques, markets, local restaurants for lunch and dinner, acrobat show, tallest buildings, and night light shows. We traveled on mag-lev train (252mph), funicular rail (30 degree incline) and sampan (30’ ). Talking with tour guides and Viking staff really made the trip a warm and welcoming experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Just did Beijing to Hong Kong (October 2019). The Viking Orion is a beautiful machine, and the crew is superb. The food quality, preparation, and presentation are not good. Many of the meat dishes were not edible. The talk of the ship ... Read More
Just did Beijing to Hong Kong (October 2019). The Viking Orion is a beautiful machine, and the crew is superb. The food quality, preparation, and presentation are not good. Many of the meat dishes were not edible. The talk of the ship was: 'how can the #1 cruise line put out such a poor food product?' Guests who were staying on the ship for more ports in Asia were plotting pizza delivery to the ship. Particularly striking was the excellence of the non-food crew who were uniformly excellent. The ship remained perfectly on schedule. The passenger interfaces were excellent. The excursions were a 50-50 kind of thing -- half good and half poorly executed. In hindsight, I should have gone with recommendations from Trip Advisor. Particularly vexing was a repeated plan of dropping guests in some site that deserved ten minutes and saying 'we will have one hour free time now'. Cannot imagine that Viking can retain such a high rating with such poor food service! Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
First time on a Viking ocean cruise. Great ship. Great staff. Great food. So organized! The daily tours took us places we probably wouldn’t have ventured to on our own. The tour guides were very knowledgeable. The food was excellent ... Read More
First time on a Viking ocean cruise. Great ship. Great staff. Great food. So organized! The daily tours took us places we probably wouldn’t have ventured to on our own. The tour guides were very knowledgeable. The food was excellent with several restaurants to choose from. The only thing I would not do again, would be the Chef’s Table. I would turn that into a steakhouse, and make Manfredes (sp) more Italian. We always had excellent service in all the restaurants. No request was ever denied. Plenty of beer and wine was offered. Afternoon tea was lovely! Our cabin was lovely with plenty of space for clothing. Actually, more than enough. Loved the makeup mirror. Loved the mini bar. Very comfortable and spacious room. The entertainment was excellent. We got to know the entertainers. Nice variety. Onboard lectures were varied and enjoyable. Planetarium is a nice touch. Tours were so well organized. Pre and post cruise tours and accommodations were EXCELLENT! Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We just got back from our first Viking cruise that departed Beijing and ended in Hong Kong. We traveled with another couple and had a great time. We loved China and Hong Kong. However, I am not sure I would select Viking again. ... Read More
We just got back from our first Viking cruise that departed Beijing and ended in Hong Kong. We traveled with another couple and had a great time. We loved China and Hong Kong. However, I am not sure I would select Viking again. Here’s why: 1. For the money, the room sizes were ridiculously small. Nicely appointed but for the thousands of dollars spent, We expected more. 2. We were very disappointed in the food. Breakfast and lunch dishes were warm not hot. Some egg dishes in the am were actually cold. Dinner was hit or miss. We had a few meals that were excellent but then other ones that were “blah”. The desserts were disappointing in general. The cookies were horrible. Our meal in Manfredi’s was very disappointing. Slow slow service and mediocre food. 3. Service was very spotty. Our cabin steward was excellent..one of the best we have had. The bar servers were also great, especially in the Explorer’s lounge. However the food servers were disorganized. We would have plates stacked up and nobody would pick up. Coffee was sometimes almost impossible to get. It was also terrible coffee unless you used the cappuccino machines. Food sometimes took forever to get even when we ate early before the rush. While everyone tried they reminded me of new employees who didn’t have a lot of experience. I wouldn’t describe the staff as experienced professionals. 4. Other staff- spa staff were great. Very helpful and friendly. Guest services ok. The personnel in the two stores were terrible. I would have fired both. The cosmetics store person was down and out unfriendly and seemed like she was in a forced labor camp. The person working in the clothing store couldn’t understand English very well and didn’t know about the products she was selling. Also not friendly. The port talks were not very helpful. Entertainment was ok..about what you would expect for a smaller ship. 5. Pool areas - excellent. We loved the first floor pool and ice baths/sauna/steam rooms. 6. Shore excursions - hit or miss. The free ones weren’t very good. As one other person reviewed, we would be dropped off and told we had an hour when 5 minutes in some cases would be enough. Why would you take people to a shopping area with high end stores that we have here in the US and give us an hour? We can get those products back home. That’s not why we took this cruise. 7. Elderly and disabled - the most frustrating part of the cruise was having to deal with all the walkers and people with mobility issues on shore excursions. Viking needs to ensure that all people signed up for the excursions can walk, get up stairs, and go two hours without going to the bathroom. If they can’t, then there should be modified excursions for those with mobility issues. Why in the world would someone sign up for a castle tour if they can’t go up steps with their cane? Same for the Great Wall and other ports. All in all we had a great time despite these annoyances. However, we will check out other cruise lines for our river cruise we plan for next year. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
If you and read this, this cruise is probably not for you. We take Royal for their brand consistency and attention to detail. This one fails. IF YOU PLAN AN EXCURSION IN ENGLISH it will be cancelled and you wont find out until you ... Read More
If you and read this, this cruise is probably not for you. We take Royal for their brand consistency and attention to detail. This one fails. IF YOU PLAN AN EXCURSION IN ENGLISH it will be cancelled and you wont find out until you get there. After questioning staff we are told most are cancelled as there is insufficient English speaking passengers on the ship signing up. On ours there were probably no more than 3 or 4 passengers on the ship with English as a primary language. If we knew we had zero chance of an excursion we could have found something else. They call this a "Cultural Cruise" but who knows what that means. Royal needs to be up front that this cruise is not your normal cruise (even staff admit it). The bars are empty. I do mean empty. One bartender could not even make a rum and coke. I had to tell her what bottles were rum. The ship is for a Chinese audience. Even the Irish Bar serves Chinese food. The specialty restaurants were good but expect nothing but Chinese food in the rest of the dinning areas. The food is nowhere near as good as any other Royal cruise we have been on. Staff is nice but the normal Royal International staff is much less prevalent and Chinese staff seem a bit untrained. All staff is polite and mostly helpful so nor problems with the staff and as for the excursion desk, their hands are tied by Royal Corporate. Do yourself a favor and save your money. Royal should not be offering this cruise to an English speaking market. Its not up to their brand expectations and you will be left frustrated. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This cruise and the experience was amazing. As 4 of only a limited number of English speaking guests on board, we were treated a bit differently from the other passengers. The staff from the stateroom (Ya Mei) to the Dining Room (Heri, ... Read More
This cruise and the experience was amazing. As 4 of only a limited number of English speaking guests on board, we were treated a bit differently from the other passengers. The staff from the stateroom (Ya Mei) to the Dining Room (Heri, William and others) to the bartenders and others on the ship went out of their way to make us comfortable. Given the limited number of English speakers on board, English activities such as Trivia games, Karaoke ...etc. allowed for participation whenever we wanted. The shows were not that great (kinda boring) but the talent was pretty amazing. The casino was the place for people to smoke so we didn't gamble too much. Most of the shops on board we for higher end goods. Don't expect the regular T-Shirts and such. The ports in Japan and Tianjin in China were amazing. The choice of shore excursions are limited so English speaking guests may want to do research and venture out on their own (like we did). The one exception was Kyoto. The city is 2 hours away from the port by train so you may want to consider this option. The dining was great with both Chinese and International options. A daily menu of steak, chicken, mashed and fries and french onion soup will help those who are "meat and potato eaters." Embarkation was quick and easy and debarkation was the same. As a frequent cruiser and traveler, I would advise everyone who wants to have an awesome time to do some research, watch some videos, get your visa and GO! If you understand that you are going to experience a new culture, this will be the trip of a lifetime! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
This was the worst cruise I have ever been on. There was no formal nights, no theme nights, no special fun things, horrible entertainment and horrible food. There were three ship days and nothing to do! It was a low budget, poor ... Read More
This was the worst cruise I have ever been on. There was no formal nights, no theme nights, no special fun things, horrible entertainment and horrible food. There were three ship days and nothing to do! It was a low budget, poor entertainment and option cruise and we didn't have to fly around the world for this experience. My family planned this trip all year and flew from the US to China for this cruise. I always cruise Norwegian and Disney and heard amazing things about Royal Caribbean. I have never left a bad review in my life, but this was a horrible shame and an experience that I can't get back for my family. The worst part was that my family spent over $400 on an excursion "Kyoto On Your Own." We were dropped off at the Kyoto Station (insanely huge) and we couldn't find the bus returning from our day. We were supposed to be back at 2:30pm. At 2:09pm, went to the police station at Kyoto Station when we couldn't locate the bus. We found three other English-speaking families that couldn't find their buses! We all stuck together and called Royal Caribbean. We were told that our tour would be contacted and would come to get us. We were told that we wouldn't be left behind. We called three or four more times checking in over the next two hours! The bus never was contacted or came to get us. Other families on the bus were worried about us and told us that the tour was told to LEAVE WITHOUT US!!!!! We didn't even have our passports as Royal Caribbean took them from us when we first boarded and held them until the last day. This has never been our experience on an international cruise. We were in a country with our two kids and no passports! Shame on them for lying to us and telling us they would get us. After two hours of waiting, someone holding a Royal Caribbean sign came to meet our family and the other two families and didn't bring transportation!!!! They told us we had to take the public train about two hour to our ship and pay ourselves (over $100 more!) Also, we had 15 minutes to catch the last train to the ship!!! This was unprofessional and cruel. Shame on them. A bunch of families met and talked to the excursion department on the cruise ship. Even families who found the buses had struggles and frustration as there was POOR INFORMATION given for us to find the buses and NO PHONE NUMBER given to us for emergencies. We were told by the cruise staff that they would contact us and leave a message at our stateroom. No surprises that they still haven't contacted us. This was a horrible and scary situation and handled so poorly by this company. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Chose this cruise because if the Japan itinerary. Having been on a total of five RCCL/Celebrity cruises in the past, we felt comfortable knowing that seeing a completely different part of the world would be met by the familiarity of a ... Read More
Chose this cruise because if the Japan itinerary. Having been on a total of five RCCL/Celebrity cruises in the past, we felt comfortable knowing that seeing a completely different part of the world would be met by the familiarity of a brand we knew well. Boy were we wrong! These ships should be branded for the Chinese market and western cruisers should be notified that certain things are unavailable on these cruises. We had absolutely zero problem with the cultural nuances, this is partly why we chose this cruise, but when things like the Solarium are unavailable to adults and only reserved for suite guests I have a problem... there was absolutely no escaping little kids anywhere on the ship. Of course an inquiry to officers on the ship basically amounted to a “too bad it was buried somewhere in the fine print.” Also normal food and beverage was unavailable. Things like an Aperol, a very basic beverage was nowhere to be found and met a “sorry the market doesn’t support it” even though many others were requesting the same... the ports were all great even though there were basically zero excursions offered by RCCL. Total joke. What saved the cruise from being a complete disaster was the service from the line level staff; it was the best we’ve ever received on a RCCL cruise. Overall condition and cleanliness of the ship - No issue here whatsoever. The ship actually felt cleaner and better maintained than the newer Anthem of the Seas despite being an older ship! I can't comment on the Solarium because we weren't allowed in as previously stated. Stateroom - perfect!!! Service - Absolutely spectacular from the line-level staff. We were greeted by absolutely everyone! We have never received friendlier service from any ship on any line. The officer staff was absolutely not present anywhere on the ship. The one leader who was wonderful was Bing in the main dining rooms. She deserves a huge shout-out! Bartenders, servers and our stateroom attendant were absolutely fantastic and salvaged this cruise for us. Food Quality - poor. There were very, very few western selections on the main dining room menus and were prepared with zero imagination. Onion soup was watery, steaks were overcooked and cold, etc. One day we were four minutes late for lunch in the main dining room and the maitre d' would't let us in. Elevators were slow and packed and the clocks on the ship were wrong but that didn't seem to matter. At this point the only option was the Windjammer (not an option - see other reviews of this ship and you'll know why) or options with a surcharge. Poor, poor, poor... Bars - hard to find one that was open at times and liquor selections were completely unacceptable. They basically cleared the shelves because "the Chinese market doesn't drink." The robot bar was an option but I wonder how the robots spend the automatically assessed gratuity? Ports and Shore Excursions - We did our own thing because there were basically no shore excursions offered. I think just one in each port. We did do the disembarkation excursion to the Great Wall and it was awesome! Great tour guide who made the long bus ride enjoyable. As I mentioned previously we had absolutely no issue with all the cultural nuances associated with this cruise. We expected it and actually learned a bit of Mandarin along the way. We engaged with the other passengers whenever possible and truly enjoyed learning more about this wonderful culture. Our issue is with RCCL and their dismissive attitude about the lack of Solarium access and the bars and restaurants. Basically told us "too bad it was in the fine print." Will never again sail with RCCL and just cancelled a Celebrity Summit cruise we were booked on in February, 2020. It was that bad... Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
"Comprehensive China Exploration" Beijing to Hong Kong or reverse The title suggest that there is more “China” than there was, even before one port was deleted. But we certainly hit a lot of countries on the trip. (Note ... Read More
"Comprehensive China Exploration" Beijing to Hong Kong or reverse The title suggest that there is more “China” than there was, even before one port was deleted. But we certainly hit a lot of countries on the trip. (Note that you should get the 10-year “Multi-Entry” visa from China if you go on such a trip. It costs the same as a “Single-Entry” visa, and uses the same annoying application form.) This itinerary is part of a long sweep of Star Legend cruises from Southeast Alaska to Malaysia and beyond. This may be the one with the most sea days, and it would be hard to market without Beijing and Hong Kong. But I would suggest that they reduce the total mileage covered. It was just too many sea days and too many lines for immigration. But if you stayed several days in Beijing before the cruise (which we did not, having been on the previous cruise), you might feel differently about the title! We booked fairly close to the trip, because of a Windstar sale announcement in their weekly specials. We had to pay the full amount at the time of booking. It was interesting to note that the Windstar proprietary "travel insurance" product is priced on the total actually spent, so it was an especially good value when the cruise has been discounted. Number of ports: 6 159 Guests of 212 possible, 161 Crew 7 Australia 2 Belgium 24 Canada 1 China 3 Germany 2 Mexico 2 Netherlands 4 UK 113 USA If starting here, please read my description of Embarkation from Beijing/Tianjin in the other review. I also (at the end of the linked review) make some general comments about Windstar cruising and about Star Legend in 2018: https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=639146 Now that I understand the CC system, I'm entering the port descriptions separately as designed. I hope you can see how the itinerary required so many sea days. That's our only disappointment with the trip. At the reception for repeaters, the couple that "won" the bottle of Champagne had been on more than 20 Windstar cruises. Our Captain had just reported to the Star Legend on the immediately preceding cruise leg. On this, his second, we did not notice a Captain's Table at a dinner. We did notice two nights when the ship's senior officers each hosted a table at dinner, providing wine for their guests. Because we had been invited to the Captain's table on the previous leg, we didn't mind not being invited (or however it was that the officer tables were created) to any of these. I think we had been invited because, with 8 cruises, we had the high number on the previous leg. We had booked Back2Back, and the second Embarkation was Tianjin, China. The second cruise had two independent groups, about 14 that may have been “Scientific American”, and 44 from a Seattle boutique travel agent The first group had many private activities, and dined together. The larger group mixed freely with us, the opposite of stand-offish. They were going to meet up with "Alan" at Disembarkation. I'm repeating some of my description of Tianjin from my previous review, because it's the Embarkation point for this cruise. Tianjin, China (for Beijing). It takes two sea days to get to Tianjin, China, the port for Beijing. There may be a high-speed train from Beijing to Tianjin city, but it seemed that the Windstar embarkation transfers were by three-hour bus from Beijing. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Wanted a smaller, less crowded ship, as we are not fans of the 3000 person ships. This had an itinerary that was heavy in ports with many overnight stays in bigger cities. We do not prefer so many "at sea" days. The ... Read More
Wanted a smaller, less crowded ship, as we are not fans of the 3000 person ships. This had an itinerary that was heavy in ports with many overnight stays in bigger cities. We do not prefer so many "at sea" days. The smaller ship has less amenities, so "at sea" days are not as enjoyable. This smaller ship was able to dock closer the many of the downtown areas, since it could navigate the rivers to get closer to towns, making exploring independently easier. The staff on this ship was very competent and responsive to all the guest's needs. There were reviews the evening before each port, providing information about that port, as well as promoting the ship's excursions. This information was helpful, although sometimes not totally accurate on dress requirements of temples, etc. The cabins are very spacious, although they are getting somewhat dated. We were told that Windstar is remodeling and expanding their fleet, one ship at a time. We will definitely cruise again on a Windstar ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We were on the 15 night Far East Discovery cruise from Beijing to Hong Kong! SHIP - Brand new and very luxurious. The decor suits the Viking brand and the crowd that these ships attract. One never feels like there are 930 passengers ... Read More
We were on the 15 night Far East Discovery cruise from Beijing to Hong Kong! SHIP - Brand new and very luxurious. The decor suits the Viking brand and the crowd that these ships attract. One never feels like there are 930 passengers aboard. There is never a crowd anywhere. The longest line was when people are getting off the ship in the morning to catch buses for excursions. The 2nd longest line was at the ice cream counter in the World Cafe after lunch and dinner. (Ice cream is made fresh on board and the flavors change daily!) There are numerous sitting areas where you can go to be by yourself. The retractable roof above the main pool is a nice feature, but on some sea days the roof could not be opened due to weather or smoke from the ship's stack blowing back into the pool area. When the roof is closed, the pool area heats up and it becomes like a sauna and is almost too hot to lounge around the pool. The free launderette on every level is a great feature. Free soap is dispensed by pushing a button on the wall after starting a washing machine. I worked out on the stationary bike and washed my workout gear and did an additional load on every sea day. We only had to wait for a machine on one occasion and then for only 1/2 an hour. We had 20 ft swells for a couple of hours due to the remnants of typhoon Yutu and Viking Orion handled them very well. But, we were in the middle of the ship, so we did not feel the up and down movement that those in the very forward and aft cabins must have felt. Lots of people used the 1/4 mile walking track on level 2. Passengers are mostly retired folks from the US, UK and Canada. CABIN - Every cabin is bigger than average for a cruise ship and has its own balcony. The smallest cabins have 270 sq ft and this is the size of the majority of the cabins on the ship. We found that we had plenty of space. Closet space is well laid out and the bathroom is very spacious. Showers are plenty big enough for the average sized person. DINING - Food is excellent and there is plenty of it. Reservations are required at Manfredi's and The Chef's Table. Manfredi's is the Italian restaurant on board and it has excellent pasta and steaks. The Chef's Table has a set menu with smaller portions and the menu changes every few nights. Often after excursions, people are too tired to get dressed up, so If you don't have a reservation at either, just show up and ask if they have an available table and you will probably get seated. It helps if you are willing to share a table with others. We found some of the offerings in the Chef's Table to be a little strange for our taste. The Restaurant does not require a reservation and has great food, also. All of the above are supposed to be evening casual, but I did see a couple of people with blue jeans and one lady in tights. While a few gentleman had jackets and ties on, the vast majority did not. I brought a sports jacket and wore it only once. The World Cafe is the on board casual buffet and there is poolside dining that consists of hamburgers, hot dogs, salads, etc. We used the included room service when we had an early excursion and on sea days before going to the spa to workout. Room service always arrived within 5 minutes of the requested time.There is afternoon tea around the pool, but we were either busy or never had an appetite at the time it was offered. ENTERTAINMENT - We only attended 1 lecture on China, but it was excellent. People that we spoke to who attended other talks said they were all very good. There were two persons on board who gave lectures on Asian/Chinese culture and history and one person who was giving scientific talks. There was a Haloween party around the pool and the band played till 10 PM. A magician was on board and gave 2 really good shows. He was as much a comedian as a magician. The band and vocalists did a Beatles/Abba tribute one night. SERVICE - Every person on board the ship bends over backwards to meet all needs of the passengers.The entire crew has a smile on their face almost always. The rooms are cleaned top to bottom twice daily. PORTS - The ports that are visited are basically the ones where China has opened a cruise terminal that Viking Orion can get into. All of the cities are interesting and have their own offerings. We had to skip the Japanese islands of Okinawa and Ishigaki due to typhoon Yutu, so we had an extra sea day and an extra day in Hong Kong. Due to missing two ports, Viking gave us an on board credit while on the cruise of $150 per passenger and a $250 credit per passenger on all future Viking ocean or river cruises. The port talks were very informative. EXCURSIONS - This is where the disappointment is. While in China, be ready to visit a temple, a garden and a market in every city. The guides in Qingdao and Xiamen could barely speak English. They could answer only the simplest of questions. They had memorized a script and could really not offer much else. They are all very young and most of them tried very hard, but their inexperience at controlling a group and lack of language skills made it very difficult for them and frustrating for the people on the excursions. After the excellent guides we had on a Scenic Danube river cruise the previous year, this was a great disappointment. However, due to Hong Kong's association with England, the guides in Hong Kong were more mature and they spoke fluent English. Most of the included excursions had a market as one of the stops. There was NEVER enough time included in the schedule to really see these markets. In Xiamen, there is a pedestrian shopping area that we were only given 20 minutes to visit. It had hundreds of shops and stalls. I think the included excursions with market stops should be extended by an hour each to give passengers more time if they desire. On two excursions, meals were provided. On the included Great Wall excursion, the meal was in a hotel exhibition hall and was very 2nd rate. On the last night in Hong Kong, the meal was in a restaurant in a large shopping mall and again the food and service was only 2nd rate. The Peking duck was fatty and all our table got was pieces of skin. Both meals were similar to a cheap Chinese restaurant in the states. In Hong Kong, we were each allowed only 1 glass of wine or 1 beer or 1 soft drink with the meal. Not what you would expect on a 'luxury' cruise. BUSINESS DEALINGS - When we called to inquire about the cruise, the telephone sales rep informed us that since the port terminal in Dalian was not ready, Dalian had been removed from the itinerary and we would get a $150 on board credit per passenger due to this. After booking and receiving an email from Viking with our booking info, we logged into MyVikingJourney web site and immediately we got an alert telling us about the Dalian situation and again promising $150 on board credits. After we were on the ship for one week, the $150 credits had not shown up on our account, so I visited Guest Services and the young lady stated to me that since Dalian had been taken off the itinerary before we booked, we were not eligible for the credits. I informed her that we SHOULD get the credits since the sales rep had promised it to us AND we got an alert on MyVikingJourney that confirmed what he had said. It was apparent that she wanted me to just go away, but I stood my ground until she said she would look into the matter. A day later the credits did show up on our on board account, so I did not have to make a 2nd visit to guest services. Although this is advertised as a Beijing to Hong Kong trip, you won't see Beijing unless you do the extension. Upon arrival at Beijing airport, there is a 3 hour drive straight to the cruise ship terminal, which is actually in Tianjin. You never go into Beijing itself. We would definitely do another Viking ocean cruise. This was our first luxury cruise and I don't think the on board experience could be any better. I can only guess that the poor quality of the excursions is due to 1) Chinese ports just being opened up to western cruise lines, 2) these are the initial visits to these ports for Viking, and 3) experienced tour guides are non-existent since in most cities, only the youngest Chinese speak any English at all. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
I chose this cruise as i wanted to tour the Philippines but after paying the initial deposit the cruise changed its itinerary to Vietnam instead and I couldn’t opt out. Having been on an earlier RCL cruise, the Legend of the Seas, I ... Read More
I chose this cruise as i wanted to tour the Philippines but after paying the initial deposit the cruise changed its itinerary to Vietnam instead and I couldn’t opt out. Having been on an earlier RCL cruise, the Legend of the Seas, I was really looking forward to RCL’s excellent level of service and care that I had come to expect – but sadly, it was a complete let down literally like chalk and cheese. EMBARKATION – winding lines and a totally inefficient process RESTAURANTS - Dining experience - the biggest disappointment! Dining rooms were understaffed, tables not set, limited food choices no menu change and poor quality and not worthy of fine dining as advertised The Windjammer you couldn’t get a seat be it breakfast, lunch or dinner and the food always the same. The Sea plex hotdog never opened for the entire duration of the cruise – it could have been a great alternative to having the dry sandwiches at Sorrento. CUSTOMER SERVICE – minus zero Service from room attendant was excellent though the same could not be said of the entertainment trip excursion enquiries, or general customer service staff an utter disaster. CUSTOMER SERVICE SEEMED UNINTERESTED. ENTERTAINMENT – you advertise outstanding Broadway shows TOTAL CRAP Staff (Asha Putu) conducting quizzes/ games had no command of the English language could not pronounce answers nor have knowledge of the game she was conducting DISEMBARKATION – Total disaster can’t even begin to describe the nightmare. But, the final straw was when we finally disembarked and complained to one of the crew members (see pic attached) saying what a disorganised chaotic process - instead of apologising for the inconvenience, he nonchalantly quips yeah yeah yeah …I heard it all before. ALL IN ALL AN ATTITUDE OF COULDN’T CARE LESS RCL is just out to take more money and make you spend more – soft drinks package, drinks package, bingo package, and some good speciality restaurants! So obvious that the Standards of RCL has fallen greatly. I was thoroughly disappointed at the carelessness and lack of customer service and felt somehow duped. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
this cruise allowed us to discover part of asia with stops in japan at taiwan in hong kong vietnam 3 stops aet in singapore. the boat is huge. Lack of entertainment during the day and shows not supoer except one which was beautiful. ... Read More
this cruise allowed us to discover part of asia with stops in japan at taiwan in hong kong vietnam 3 stops aet in singapore. the boat is huge. Lack of entertainment during the day and shows not supoer except one which was beautiful. the staff was great though. Liliana, Alex at the reception desk and Marjen one of the restaurant managers were very professional and knowledgeable. we avouns take advantage of all the activities on the boat namely bumper car, simulation of parachute jump, surfing wave against the current and climbing in a bubble at 100 meters from the ground with panoramic view of the boat from above and on the sea ​​. all these activities are free but ask to register not to queue and it was great . so we recommand to cruoise with royal carribean . this ship must be very great for alaska trip since a glass panorama is offfered in the front ot the ship in the adult pool corner . Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
The cruise could also be called 'the queue that never moved' cruise. The ship felt very enclosed at times as the main routes around the ship were internal and often led to dead ends - perhaps they wanted to funnel us all through ... Read More
The cruise could also be called 'the queue that never moved' cruise. The ship felt very enclosed at times as the main routes around the ship were internal and often led to dead ends - perhaps they wanted to funnel us all through the shopping area regularly. To get from the Deck 3 main dining room to the theatre you had to walk through the cabin corridor. The embarkation was dreadful with no information and even when we asked the few staff visible they didn't know what all the queues were for. We had upgraded to a suite as a big retirement treat but only got a small advantage to boarding once we asked someone whether we were queuing in the right place (we weren't). The luggage arrived at our room at 7.30pm - too late to change for evening meal. We feel our cabin was very good (bearing in kind we had paid a lot extra) but we didn't get the service we would normally expect, having to ask for shampoo, etc. to be replenished, no ice in the room. The Concierge lounge was good but again we got very little extra service. The Coastal Kitchen suite-only dining room was excellent and made the main dining room seem even poorer in comparison. We wanted to eat our evening meal in the main dining room to be with friends we had made on the trip. The second night in the main Chic dining room was appalling for service and meal quality - the only lamb shank I've ever had that wouldn't fall off the bone for 3 people over an hour after sitting down. We all complained and saw the chef and dining room manager. It did improve the next night and onwards, but no real explanation for that bad night. We decided it was either understaffing or illness on board that was never fully (openly) acknowledged. The Windjammer was always full and finding a table was very difficult. This is the first cruise we have been on where you needed to keep the daily planner on us to find out where and when you could eat (only one small café was 24 hours). Trip organisation was very poor with yet more interminable queuing, first to get into the Theatre, then for stickers and then usually an hour wait to disembark. Most of the trips were over-priced and poor itineraries. Okinawa should NOT be used as a port stop. Entertainment was poor other than the main cast shows and some resident musicians. In general there were less than usual activities. Some positives are included in the fur coat reference, the robot bar, the North star viewing sphere, the bumper cars (if you were prepared to queue) and individuals like Virgil and his cocktail classes. There did seem to be a lot more extra payment dining rooms. It felt as if there were too few staff for too many clients. There was also a problem with sickness on board that was not admitted. We are aware of 1 cabin needing to be put ashore, another with 7 days of sickness and 2 medical emergencies on the last sea day meaning the ship turned round to the last port and we arrived 5 hours late. There were several cabins with Do Not Disturb signs for many hours and deep cleans being done. The captain's daily reminders to wash our hands might also have been a clue. Overall we would not want to use this ship again, and feel the extra glitz did not equate to glamour and certainly not luxury. After our cruise the ship was repositioning to Australia but we felt they had started to change over during our cruise and we had not had the advantage of lower repositioning prices. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
I now know what a herd of cattle must feel like being bullied and herded I n the journey to their slaughter. What was planned as a “special birthday” celebration on one of the largest and prestigious cruise ships from Royal ... Read More
I now know what a herd of cattle must feel like being bullied and herded I n the journey to their slaughter. What was planned as a “special birthday” celebration on one of the largest and prestigious cruise ships from Royal Caribbean (RC) according to their advertisements, visiting wonderful countries plus an exciting itenary, including one of the ancient wonders of the world, sadly became a bit of a damp squib. Amateurish - LIMITED PRESENCE of - RC organisational staff and Chinese security staff, at Tianjin Xi’an Gang Port, to advise, guide or direct proceedings resulted in “information” being transmitted by word of mouth between passengers as they continued to join an unprecedented number of queues, which were gathering to provide duplicate passport photocopies, plus additional security information to be completed on security forms, this was despite many passengers having registered the required security details pre-cruise at home, TO (quote) “AVOID UNECESSARY QUEUES”. In addition “crucial signage” to advise passengers where to queue, I.e. by their “deck level” or “priority boarding” categories, only became apparent at the security check in point, after approximately - a very frustrating - hour or so of waiting, which resulted in customers becoming even more impatient and experiencing further resentment, anger and frustration at people jumping queues etc. These details could so easily have been made more visible at entry point to the building. The “QUEUING” theme did not end here unfortunately, as the scene, having already been established, sadly continued with the RC trips ashore (which were diabolical and over priced) to say the least, guides with very little spoken “English” or at best difficult to understand, could not always find their “coach” after the various stops. Invariably there are lots of taxis with English speaking drivers available at a fraction of the ships price. A pre-cruise trip to the Terracota Warriors resulted in Scary health and safety concerns as we became part of 100,000 visitors. We were later informed the first week in October is called the “Golden Week” when almost the whole of the Chinese community join their families for a holiday break, so beware of visiting this part of the world at this time. We chose “My Time Dining” but we still encountered the dreaded queues here and sadly the service of the waiting staff was not always the most efficient resulting in us as missing the start of several shows. In hind site this might have been a blessing as there has been a dramatic fall in the standard of the entertainment in our experience from previous cruises. Large numbers of passengers actually walked out during several shows we attended, due to the poor quality of the acts, I don’t know if this because of the Asian itenary but there was a strong (Z list Australian contingency performing) and I personally did’nt quite get their humour, it was either crude jokes or blowing balloons, even the singing was well off key. I must comment also on the lack of comfortable lounges and comfortable seating availability aboard this ship, I feel this is an area of severe decline compared to other RC ships we have sailed on Disembarking from the ship can only be described as diabolically horrendous, with a repeat of NO organisational skills and NO presence of RC staff. Due to unfortunate circumstances admittedly, the ship arrived in Singapore 5 hours later than planned, resulting in two large cruise ships with over 8000 people wanting to disembark and find taxis, coaches, hotels, airports etc etc. I must say though that the staff looking after our cabin (which was kept spotlessly clean) were the salt of the earth and earned there gratuity, a “mention” and “big shout out” also to the staff at customer service who were extremely helpful and freindly with all our enquiries including sorting out a luggage issue we experienced. The staff where the watches are for sale were remarkable helping me in my our of need with a manual for my citizens watch. All of these mentioned were the stars during our stay. The Ovation of the seas claims to accommodate 4905 occupancy? but I wonder if they have put profit ahead of “quality” customer experience. Estimated income (not audited or verified) for a two week Asian cruise of this order,excluding shore excursions would bring in a guesstimated £13 or so million. According to “Statistica 2018” their figures shows the revenue of RC Cruises worldwide generated approximately 8.78 billion U.S. dollars in 2017 from 0.52 billion U.S. dollars in 1988 We also know that Royal Caribbean Cruises is a U.S.-based cruise operator owning and operating five cruise operations Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Pullmantur Cruises, Azamara Club Cruise Croisières de France. Royal Caribbean also own a 50% stake in TUI Cruises. According to “cruisemarketwatch.com” 2018 Worldwide Cruise Line Passenger Capacity Total at the end of 2018 will be 537,000 passengers and 314 ships. Annualized total passengers carried worldwide will be 26.0 million (a 3.3% increase over 2017) So the capacities and profits increase but the standard of service delivered in RC case anyway appears to be heading in the opposite direction. Apparently “according to some passengers” who have travelled on this capacity of ship before “The “Ovation of the Seas” they have never experienced a trauma like this before. Interestingly it was claimed an additional 100 staff had been recruited for the cruise after ours. Signed; a 12 times cruise passenger never to use ROYAL CARIBBEAN ever again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
I had to wait for six months before I could write down this review more objectively. Meaning without the disbelief or all the other first negative reactions. So in short - everything the others have already written here is completely ... Read More
I had to wait for six months before I could write down this review more objectively. Meaning without the disbelief or all the other first negative reactions. So in short - everything the others have already written here is completely accurate. However, after telling the stories after half a year, it all feels quite entertaining. Not ever on our nine RCI cruises before have we felt like being in a candid camera. Or in a sitcom, not in the audience but on the stage before cameras. Because why and where else would all those silly things take place. You have the basic setup: A slightly unconfident captain that gets a totally inexperienced crew who probably was supposed to be somewhere else. Like repairing cars, milking cows, studying in high school ... who knows. Then they are given this brand new amazing shiny ship with all the features and gimmicks nobody has heard of and obviously have no idea how to use them. Then, the ones who have ever held a spoon are made chefs, etc. Train the ”crew” for an hour. Bring in the customers. Let the hell break loose. All the rubber cheese jokes, misunderstandings, arguments and mass fights will follow inevitably. No screenwriting needed. I particurally liked the calling for tender tickets scene, by a Jamaican crew member. ”A3!” - ”Was it E3 or I3?” - ”Yes!” Why am I writing this now is that we are thinking to go back on Ovation soon (19 Nights - Honolulu to Sydney). You have to believe in good and give everybody another chance. If things are still failing after one year from this review, they are never going to improve. Dining: We have eaten dinners on nine other RCI ships. I would rate the previous ones quite high, like 4/5 stars or so. However, the experience on Ovation was 2/5 at it's best. The waiters were pretty clueless in general, but the biggest disappointment were the ingredients of the meals. In Asia, particularly in China the dairy products are far from western standards. So the "rubber or cheese" was not really a joke but a real situation. However, after Hong Kong things improved a bit. Eventually we kept going to 270° for breakfast and Windjammer for the rest of the day. Entertainment: Not quite on par with other RCI ships either. The "Pixels" was only okay, you couldn't avoid feeling that that the crew was barely walking through the show but wanted to be somewhere else instead. Onboarding / arriving / departing: Pure chaos, lucky that not more people got hurt. Activities: Not so bad! All the latest gadgets were entertaining and even the queues were not bad. Maybe because there were not so many children on a transfer cruise. As a 30-40 yrs couple we drove more bumper cars than all in our lives before combined. Stateroom: The only safe haven where you felt like "home". The stateroom waiter was luckily of the normal RCI standard, which is awesome. Excursions: Didn't take. Ports of call were really intriguing, but usually all the action happened 1-2 hrs from the port itself. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Chose the cruise as part of a package sold by Planet Cruise. Royal Caribbean website made the cruise experience sound fantastic for 'tasting' a little of several countries in the luxury of a modern ship with up to date ... Read More
Chose the cruise as part of a package sold by Planet Cruise. Royal Caribbean website made the cruise experience sound fantastic for 'tasting' a little of several countries in the luxury of a modern ship with up to date facilities. Planet Cruise package also added 3 days in Beijing prior to sailing and followed by 5 days in Bali. Sounded wonderful. Very poor information beforehand from Planet Cruise or Roya Caribbean about immigration rules, particularly for China. Problems in Manchester airport as Cathay Pacific airline staff knew nothing about the Chinese 144 day visa free pass. It took 30 minutes before we were allowed to fly as staff trawlled their data bases and phoned for advice before letting us board. Beuracracy of the 144 day pass form filling in China meant an hour or so before we finally picked up our cases. Despite the problems we were aware of others who had paid over £250 each for visas which were not needed. We found out about the pass ourselves. No advice from Royal Catibbean or Planet Cruise. Embarkation - shambles. Arrived at the cruise terminal at midday to the sight of thousands of people queing. We were pleased that we had checked in online as advised by Royal Caribbean - wrong! It was 4.30pm before we finally boarded the ship not having had anything to eat or drink since leaving Beijing at 9.30am. We were handed a piece of paper with boarding instructions as we dropped off our cases. Very poor signage as we entered the terminal, very few staff, and those staff available had poor English. We queued like cattle with others all not knowing if this was the correct queue and didnt know what we were queueing for. After finally compketing additional forms we neared the front of the check-in desk only to find we needed 2 A4 copies of our passports. Some people knew this, the majority didnt. I have checked our information from Royal Caribbean and cannot find any reference to this. Conveniently (!!!!) Royal Caribbean had two photocopiers in the terminal for this purpose and a small coffee shop had seen a market in using their photocopier for 1 yuan for this purpose. Slight problem - the photocopier queues were horrendous and added another 45 minutes to our wait to get on the ship. Finally, after jumping through these hoops we felt we could relax as we got on an escalator with our boarding passes only to find we then had Chinese immigration to go through again. The 144 hour pass bureaucracy added another hour to our boarding experience. There is a lot I could write about the lovely, modern ship, with a wonderful balcony cabin, fantastic underpaid cabin staff, lovely restaurants with excellent food. However, our experience was spoiled by the terrible customer service experience from boarding, onboard, and disembarkation. Onboard the Guest Services desk and Excursion desks were poorly staffed. Guest services queues were an average of 30 minutes for minor issues. Eg cabin key did not work after boarding. Usually, only about 5 staff available at Guest Services for 4500 passengers. Likewise, Excursion desk and 2 or 3 staff and very poor knowledge about the excursions. Disembarkation - due to an unfortunate medical emergency the ship was 5 hours late arriving in Singapore. So many people needed information and help with changing their ongoing travel plans that Guest Services could not cope. After queuing for 30 minutes I was told that I could use the cabin phone to contact my taxi company and the cost would be reimbursed. However, the phone line didn't work. I was then told there were too many people dialling at the same time. We kept listening out for updates on arrival times, tips for ongoing travel, etc. Very, vety few announcements were made which would have been helpful as many people queued at Guest Services with the same questions. General announcements would have helped us and staff. Annoyingly, there were regular announcements about Bingo and other activities despite the common topic of conversation amongst passengers were their ongoing travel concerns. Further queuing at Guest Services gave the advice that we would disembark quicker if we took our own cases off the ship. The next morning we went to the disembarkation point only to find thousands of others had obvioysly been given the same advice! Staff were nowhere to be seen and as passengers eventually started to disembark arguments broke out as passengers tried to jump the queue or push forward. It was bedlam at the cruise terminal with evetyone ring to catch rearranged taxis. After didembarking at 11.30am oyr taxi took us to the airport at 2.45 and we checked in for our flight to Bali with 8 minutes to spare before check in closed. Royal Caribbean put profits before people. We were treated as commodities and not people. Several services on the ship involved additional charges. Cabin staff and restaurant staff were plentiful and helpful. Guest services staff were far to few for the numbers of passengers. Entertainment was ofva poor standard. More like Butlins. Audiences often walked out of shows. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
This holiday was called the Walls & Warriors which started off with a 6 day land tour arranged by Cruise 1st during Chinese Golden week! Followed by a 12 night cruise on the Ovation of the Seas. We started our journey to Xian from ... Read More
This holiday was called the Walls & Warriors which started off with a 6 day land tour arranged by Cruise 1st during Chinese Golden week! Followed by a 12 night cruise on the Ovation of the Seas. We started our journey to Xian from Edinburgh via Frankfurt & Beijing on 1st October. After travelling for a very long time we were met at the airport by a guide from CBT holidays, arranged by Cruise 1st. There were 4 of us on the flight from Xian that arrived around 2.30pm, what we didn’t know was that we would have to wait until every other international flight arrived with all the guests before we could leave the airport & that wasn’t until around 5pm so not a great start but anyway we were on the way to the hotel until the guide informed us that we were getting taken for dinner first & not to our hotel but a buffet restaurant 40 mins drive away from the hotel which we stopped at briefly as 2 passengers demanded to be let off the bus. We were taken to a restaurant in a lovely building but so were all of the 8 coaches so it was pandemonium. We eventually got back to the hotel about 9pm & then had to listen to the guide tell us about luggage, labels, passports all stuff we really didn’t want to hear as we were all shattered. We were only 2 nights in Xian before getting the bullet train to Beijing but we asked to take out some clothes & leave our suitcase out the following morning so that it could be taken to our Beijing Hotel by courier & not on Bullet train with us. This did not go down well as all we wanted to do was get some sleep before our 6.30am alarm call. We stayed at the Mingdu int hotel in Xian which was ok, didn’t really cater for international guests. We obviously came on this trip to see the Terracotta Warriors but as we arrived during Golden week it was extremely busy & I mean thousands of people queuing to get in, pushing & shoving. It was quite dangerous but we went with the mass of crowds & eventually got to see the army so it wasn’t the big wow unfortunately as we couldn’t see right away . We then managed to make our way round & get some pictures. It was the same trying to get in to all of the pits. Lunch & dinner were provided throughout this trip but we were a bit fed up of Chinese food after 6 days. It was mostly buffets with a couple of meals served to our tables. The trip on the Bullet train was fantastic, 308km per hour but you wouldn’t think it. A subway lunch was provided for us for the train trip so that was welcomed- no boiled rice in sight! In Beijing we visited the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Sq, The summer palace & Ming tombs & the Great Wall over 3 days with 5.30-6am alarm calls. One thing to note if you are going to do this trip, what we wore in the morning we were in for the day & night, not once did we get the chance to return to the hotel to change or freshen up .This trip is extremely tiring but as the guide said we were only there for 6 days & could sleep when we got home! One point which caused a lot of complaints that were advised by Cruise 1st only a couple of weeks before that it was suggested that we pay the guide £7 per person per day as a tip, this was then spoken about by the guide manager on the first night saying he would collect the next day & this would cover everyone, guides, drivers etc for the 6 days so that totalled £42pp but he would take £40pp. Well this didn’t go down well at all, some paid all, some paid part & some paid nothing. We weren’t happy about it but paid & will be letting cruise 1st know. The guide manager told us this was their wages; there were 8 coaches so it worked out between £8-9000. This trip was advertised as an escorted tour, everything included so this was really cheeky to throw this in just before we left. We would obviously have tipped the guides & drivers but as a result of this they got nothing further from anyone. This did put a dampener on things & was a hot topic which Cruise 1st could have sorted out at the booking stage & added it into the overall cost of the holiday. We enjoyed the tour, albeit tiring & the guides from CBT Holidays were very good, our guide Michael was fabulous on bus no 6. THE CRUISE- arrived a Tianjin port at 11.30am & the terminal was absolutely packed with people, queues everywhere, I had read prior that you needed 2 photo copies of your passport on A4 paper (not enlarged to A4 size), a lot of people didn’t seem to know this so there were a couple of photo copiers & literally hundreds of people waiting to use them. We had to go up an escalator to get departure cards , fill them out & then come back down to wait in a check in queue, the queues were that big they were all merging , not a good start but all in it took us 1.5 hours & we were on the ship at 1pm. We needed to get a Chinese visa prior to travelling at the Chinese Visa centre in Edinburgh £151 pp but the people with the 144 hour free visa were taken aside at the last customs point to have paperwork checked, you had to tell them hotel details were you had been staying before the cruise so have all that info ready if you get the free visa. Our balcony cabin on deck 7 was ready as soon as we stepped onboard & luggage was in the corridor, always look around as sometimes not right outside your cabin. The ship is huge but easy to navigate. As this ship was built for the Asian market the shops are very high end, Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Cartier etc. With the usual sales? In the Royal Esplanade most days. 2 days at sea greatly welcomed to recover from our hectic 6 day trip & get used to our new surroundings. We had pre booked drinks package, North Star (complimentary on this cruise) & Ifly also complimentary. The bar staff were amazing & would make you any cocktail, not pre made like some cruise lines. We enjoyed the food, ate in Windjammer a couple of times, such a vast selection of food if you can’t find something you like in there well there is something wrong with you. Also ate in American Icon & Silk both my time dining restaurants. We had also bought the 5 night dining package so ate in Wonderland (strange but worth a try) Chops Grille, Izumi & twice in Jamie’s as that is the best restaurant on the ship! Two 70 lounge was good for breakfast & lunch & Sorrento’s for late night pizza. We visited Okinawa, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam & Singapore. Okinawa- shuttle bus into town then walked to the market. We then got a taxi for $8 to the former hq of the Japanese Navy- Underground tunnels. We also rode on the Monorail to Shuri Castle then back to the main street to get the shuttle bus, plenty of shops here & easy to get around by yourself. Taiwan- shuttle bus into Keelung then we shared a cab to Taipei as we had pre booked tickets for Taipei 101. One thing I will say is why do Royal Caribbean take you to container ports then charge you to get off the ship? $10 or $20 for a shuttle bus to the nearest town i.e. Keelung which is still half an hour from Taipei. Shuttles from these ports should be included, felt a bit ripped off. Taxi to Taipei actually was $20 for 4 of us so we should have just got a taxi from the port, we got the train back & it cost a couple of pounds. Hong Kong - free shuttle to nearest mall (Diamond Hill i think) then easy to get underground over to Hong Kong & star ferry back, went to ladies market before returning to mall to get shuttle to ship. Ho Chi Minh- RC tour - Panoramic bus tour- good value. We had a fabulous private tour in Chan May with Andy Hoi an tours to Ba Na Hills & the golden bridge. The ship didn’t even offer this as an excursion although the bridge is only months old so that is maybe why. On the ship we enjoyed Martin the singer in the Amber & Oak pub, he had us partying every night, there was a good band called Kinetic in the Music Hall. Other acts like the comedian & the balloon guy didn’t go down too well & we are not big INXS fans so 4 nights of that wasn’t our cup of tea. There was a 70’s party in 270 1 night, the place was packed then they stopped the music at 11.40pm & told us to go to other venues that were playing slow music! I was disappointed that there were no deck parties even on the beautiful night we were leaving Hong Kong & the deck was packed they had a film on which was so inappropriate, Jurassic world I think with dinosaurs roaring spoiled the beautiful sail away. Pixels was the only show we had to book & I loved the Vegas style show in the theatre, Live,love,legs. Unfortunately we had 2 medical emergencies on the 2nd last night & one of our passengers passed away. The other had to be taken off the ship which meant we had to turn back to Vietnam & we were 5 hours late in getting to Singapore, this was ok for us as we were going to a hotel but the queues were enormous at guest services trying to sort passengers out. The last night actually ended up like a proper party night as we were told we could stay in our cabin until 11am on departure day & all venues were open for breakfast & lunch. Lots of people stayed up late because of this & we had a thoroughly enjoyable last night (sorry for the man who took ill). As a result lots of passengers decided to self disembark with luggage at 12 noon. This wasn’t handled well by the staff & the queues to get off the ship were not managed at all until it was brought to their attention before a fight broke out! We had a fabulous trip& met some fabulous people, the ship is very modern & some people in our group did not like it, said it was like living in a shopping centre, I missed the theme nights & deck parties (didn’t get to wear the Hawaiian frock!) but overall the staff & food were very good.In fact the staff were excellent. We enjoyed the bionic bar that was included in the drinks package as were the coffees in Two70 lounge & the cafe on the esplanade. Sorry for the long review but this trip is happening again next year on Quantum so maybe help some people. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
This is not our first cruise with Royal Carribean where we have always enjoyed the ships and staff but after our experience on this ship im sorry to say it could be our last. Is Royal Carribean putting quantity before quality in ... Read More
This is not our first cruise with Royal Carribean where we have always enjoyed the ships and staff but after our experience on this ship im sorry to say it could be our last. Is Royal Carribean putting quantity before quality in therecruises now? He food on this cruise was cold and un edible, we had to buy the specialists food packages to ensure a hot meal, well done jamie Olivers and Chops grill and the pub without you i wouldnt have had a hot meal. The embarking in Beijing port was utter chaos, no organisation or signage Our suitcase was ripped on delivery to our cabin but customer servce exelled in replacing it straight away The bed and sheets were perfect only little grip is why dont they put on USA size pillows insttead of silly little ones Library why is this in a entertainment venue where you couldnt read in peace, surely the library should be in a quiet room! No drink when you got back to port from excursions, and believe me we needed it, this has always happened on previous cruises. They did do this on the last two ports after my husband pointed this was not being done Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We went for this ship because of the advertising and the promises for the sail of a lifetime, Instead we experienced the worst cruise ever, 3 hours in Beijing lined up to board ship,booked a Junior Suite and unlike other ships it ... Read More
We went for this ship because of the advertising and the promises for the sail of a lifetime, Instead we experienced the worst cruise ever, 3 hours in Beijing lined up to board ship,booked a Junior Suite and unlike other ships it counted for no privileges at all even though it was advertised that suites would have there own speciality dining room when we asked why we couldn't make a reservation we were told that the restaurant was fully booked even though we paid the extra money for the privilege. The main dining area has a limited selection and is almost the same menu every day and the food is always cold and sloppy, speciality pay for restaurants are crap eg: Jamies Italian, Chops etc: overpriced and even home cooking would make it look like rubbish. Entertainment was poor and act mostly provided buy the crew were lame. Ports and Shore excursions should have been named shore extortion's, eg: $75.00 US per person for a bus to the centre of the city on a make your own way excursion and the price in a Taxi $18.00 for 2 to the same place. 2 hours lined up to just get off the ship in Singapore was the end of our cruise from hell NEVER AGAIN Royal Caribbean.....4500 People on board with no direction and poor facilities Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Firstly I chose this cruise for the itinerary going to the Philippines but it was changed to Vietnam This was also a place I wanted to see so didn’t cancel Not sure that was a good idea I have been on many cruises and many Royal ... Read More
Firstly I chose this cruise for the itinerary going to the Philippines but it was changed to Vietnam This was also a place I wanted to see so didn’t cancel Not sure that was a good idea I have been on many cruises and many Royal Caribbean I am quite loyal to them but not sure after this cruise The organisation was bad from start to finish from boarding to disembarking The food was the worst I have ever had ranging from cold to inedible I have to say the staff were all amazing and did their best The entertainment was the worst I have seen I have never seen so many walk out of performances It seemed all the entertainers were from Australia and the standard was not the usual Royal Caribbean produced I don’t know what has happened to Royal Caribbean I spent the whole cruise trying to convince other passengers that this was not the normal way a cruise holiday should be and to convince them to give R C another chance but I fear they have already made up their minds If this is the way R C is going to continue I fear I may even jump ship Read Less
Sail Date October 2018

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