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804 Hong Kong to Asia Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise because of the 2 day stop in Shanghai and Beijing and ending in Japan. This was our first time cruising on HAL. It was just the 2 of us cruising and we stayed in a balcony cabin, which was very nice. We arrived at ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the 2 day stop in Shanghai and Beijing and ending in Japan. This was our first time cruising on HAL. It was just the 2 of us cruising and we stayed in a balcony cabin, which was very nice. We arrived at embarkation to find out we needed copies of our Passports and Visas on separate sheets of paper. We waiting in a line for 15 minutes + to have this done. If we knew prior to arriving, everyone would have these copies available. There were numerous agents to check us in and was quick. Unlike other cruise lines we've been on, the ship does not have a bright center atrium. It's quite small and dark. The ship as a whole in the interior is dark, the evening entertainment is just so-so, MANY people walk around with their bathrobes on visiting the pool/spa/buffet which we found strange and their were limited activities on sea days, All our tours were private with 8 people so can't comment on the ship's tours. We did attend several information sessions about ports, culture and various topics and found them well done and interesting. The service and food options in the Lido Marketplace, buffet, was very good. We ate our meals here for the variety and did not participate in the formal nights. We met friendly people since most times you share a table in the Lido Marketplace. For the first time ever, we took our luggage off by ourselves since we had reserved tickets for the bullet train. This worked well since we each only had 1 suitcase. Depending on the ports/cost, we would consider going again on HAL. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise based on its itinerary and it was very enjoyable. It was a first cruise for us (well, I had been on a cruise 28 years ago with a girlfriend but that was a long time ago) so we were not sure how we would enjoy this type ... Read More
We chose this cruise based on its itinerary and it was very enjoyable. It was a first cruise for us (well, I had been on a cruise 28 years ago with a girlfriend but that was a long time ago) so we were not sure how we would enjoy this type of travel. We did a lot of research and it paid off (mostly). FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO SEEMED SURPRISED BY ADDITIONAL COSTS, TENDERS AND OTHER MATTERS, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE SPEND SOME TIME ON RESEARCH! For example, by reading other reviews of cruisers, we knew that getting to Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) and back in time would be difficult because of traffic and the timing of the ship's arrival and departure, so we took the NCL excursion. We were Haven Guests and were very grateful for the extra service (such as embarkation and disembarkation priority along with a reserved area for meals at breakfast and lunch) making our trip experience much better than many others, I am sure. What we didn't fully understand, though, was that being on deck 9 instead of 14 meant that we sometimes missed the true benefits of the Haven experience (such as having a butler and concierge ready to make things easier for us). Our butler and concierge were generally MIA unless we called and they both seem surprised that we hadn't asked to have something when we thought it would just be done (they only discovered that we were first time cruisers at the end of the trip and things might have been easier if we had volunteered that up front). There were a few other blips but we figured out what we needed to do in the first few days (and I did express my concerns to them) and we did get in tune with them after that. However, if you want to experience the full benefits of the Haven, I would recommend that you find a cabin/suite on Deck 14. Our cabin was right up front and the benefits of two balconies was wonderful, allowing us to have the best of both views and, while the noise of the anchor going up and down was clearly evident, it really didn't disturb us. Also, I am very prone to motion sickness and didn't feel the least bit queasy for the entire trip. We took mostly independent tours and they were, overall, excellent. There was one dud excursion which had more to do with the lack of English by the tour guide but we did hit all the sights. The tour into Bangkok using NCL was excellent, given that the guide was herding 32 people around but I cannot recommend the tour at the end of our trip into Singapore. We took the 4 hour tour ending at the airport and it was very expensive and certainly unimpressive. Dining was very hit and miss; Chin Chin was dreadful and La Cucina wasn't far behind. I would certainly not waste my money on La Cucina! Both service and the food was way below average. The first week seemed generally off for most of the entire dining areas - it was as if the waiters did not know what they were doing or where they should be at any one time. We were left waiting for several minutes without so much as a glass of water on a number of occasions and sometimes the food was not very warm when it arrived. A couple of very nice meals were had at Cagney's and Teppanyaki (go for the show, although the food was very good) but none of the meals made me feel that I had to go back. I admit I had expected better prepared food and the quality of the raw ingredients seemed lacking sometimes. The meal at Azura was very good and I would highly recommend going to the free sit down venues over the buffet (where a couple of times when we ventured in, we were horrified by the noise and people eating right beside the food - presumably so they could go back for more immediately. The fitness facility was good although I'm sure that it would have benefitted from some extra space. The free classes were generally well attended (or, on sea days, over attended) but the paid classes were almost empty. Internet was very poor but the guy at the Internet cafe was very helpful to get the most out of it. I must admit that I didn't pay enough attention to the small print and it was annoying that the service we had only applied to one device at a time! We had one unlimited service and two 250 minute services (that came as part of our package) so it was okay but I saved any big work on my computer for our days on shore when we could get 4G wifi service. Overall, we were very happy with our first cruise with Norwegian. They do seem to have worked out most of the problems with embarkation and disembarkation and tendering (at Koh Samui, for example, the ship was using commercial tender operations along with its own lifeboats) on this particular routing. This allowed for at least triple the numbers to get on the tender and the lineups were greatly reduced. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Chosen for the timing, stops, and convenience from Taiwan. The problems started with embarkation. 4 huge seating areas. A few wandering workers. You get a number for the 15 service desks. Turns out 50 people have the same number. Worse, ... Read More
Chosen for the timing, stops, and convenience from Taiwan. The problems started with embarkation. 4 huge seating areas. A few wandering workers. You get a number for the 15 service desks. Turns out 50 people have the same number. Worse, the announcement of the number is called out by someone walking the aisles amid the din. The cabin was the tiniest ever encountered, with stool angled from the wall but not enough to put a leg over. Supplies would run out, and no morning service until after noon. There was not a decent steak on board, not at the buffet, not at the dining room, not at the steakhouse. No lobster. I was informed they stopped serving libster 10 years ago, though the NCL booking agent assured mre there would be a lobster night. In contrast, Holland America has at least 1 lobster night on every cruise we've been on, as well as great steak every night. Very few activities on board, and no happy hour at all. That's enough. My wife said never again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We were very happy with this cruise and pleased that we were able to do it on Celebrity because most of their itineraries are pretty boring (that is the only thing they should learn from MSC!). We were lucky that we were on one of the ... Read More
We were very happy with this cruise and pleased that we were able to do it on Celebrity because most of their itineraries are pretty boring (that is the only thing they should learn from MSC!). We were lucky that we were on one of the first cruises after the dry dock "Celebrity Revolution" makeover. The ship - like all M class ships - was in bad need of a renovation and we were overall quite pleased with the results. One exception: the Retreat Lounge had horrible seating and no atmosphere at all. They really have to change the seatbacks of the sofas and the far to uncozy lighting, bring the frosted glass enclosure towards the "Art" Gallery back and kick those ridiculous toddler stools out, not even Kelly Hoppen MBE will be able to get her behind in. Staff was the best we ever had: everyone was greeting and cheerful. Food was good as always. Service at Luminae very personal and top notch. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
I chose this cruise because it sailed to countries that I had not visited before and also went to South Korea, a place I had visited 20 years ago. Celebrity Millennium cruise ship Check in experience at Hongkong Celebrity omitted ... Read More
I chose this cruise because it sailed to countries that I had not visited before and also went to South Korea, a place I had visited 20 years ago. Celebrity Millennium cruise ship Check in experience at Hongkong Celebrity omitted to inform the prospective passengers that they would need two copies of their passport, when they checked in at the Hong Kong international cruise terminal. This caused hundreds of passengers to line up to have their passport, copied to meet the criteria.. Then when we finally made it to the check in counter, we were requested to have a visa to visit china for three days. We had already contacted the Chinese embassy prior to travelling to Hongkong to confirm if a visa was necessary. Their information was, that if we were staying less than 144 hours, we would not require a visa. We had a confirmation email from the Chinese Embassy so, after long deliberation, they let us onboard. We had only just boarded the ship when we were required to line up again and hand over our passports for the Taiwan immigration. This could easily have been done as we were boarding the ship, as we had to walk about a kilometre back and forth through the Hong Kong international terminal. They could have set up a passport station along this route, where the passengers would hand over their passport, and receive a receipt. This would have saved a lot of time and the unnecessary lining up, but they didn’t. We were supposed to be concierge passengers, which meant, we payed an additional $400aud per person for express check in and other privileges on the ship. We feel cheated as we had no special treatment other than a tray of canapés that were no larger than a twenty cent piece. When quizzed about our special privileges, we were given a bottle of Champaign. I am not convinced that the canapés and bottle of Champaign would have cost $800 Aud First stop Tiapei (Taiwan) Following a day at sea, travelling from hongkong to Tiapei, we arrived at 7.00am to a foggy morning and lots of Taiwan warships lined up along the docks. The immigration inspection went smoothly, and passengers who had not booked on the cruise ships tours, made their way 500m down the dock to the railway station where the train took us into Taipei. The station was directly under the Taipei101 building the highest building in Asia and the world, until 2012. The ships tour groups, along with the passengers doing their own thing, all travelled to the top of this building in the fastest lift in the world .Taipei 101 has 2 lifts that only takes 37 seconds to travel from the 5th floor to the 89th floor of the skyscraper. The train trip cost around $12Aud return and the building entry fee was $ 27 AUD. The tour organised by the ship was $175US to visit the same location. Admittedly, the ship tour was on a bus, and took a different route to the building, and included a lunch. Speaking to other passengers who took the ships tour, they informed us that they spent a couple of hours looking for 4 passengers who got separated from the tour, and held everybody up so their day was ruined. Next stop Busan Following another day at sea during which time the ship had some electrical equipment problems between Taiwan and Busan South Korea, which meant that they lost power to most of the ship. The ship limped along at about 2 knots and we were 4hours late arriving at Busan. There were major problems for the crew, who tried to arrange shore excursions and get passengers through the Korean immigration system. The ship blamed the immigration dept, but when we went through the system, it was working like clockwork, and there were no hold ups at all. Most passengers had been held up waiting to get off the ship for over 90 minutes only to find the immigration dept officers, waiting for passengers to come through. The ship was the hold up, not the immigration dept. During the power shortage, the kitchens were unable to cook meals, wash dishes, provide air-conditioning to the dining rooms, or boil water in the urns for tea and coffee. The staff did the best they could, but it was a major problem across the whole ship. There wasn’t any compensation offered to the passengers who had less than 2 hours of daylight to look around the city, and had endured long waiting times trying to get off the ship. Some free drinks would have gone a long way to compensate the passengers, but nothing was offered. The ship was only designated to be at Busan for 6 hours but when it did not arrive until 4 pm in the afternoon this became 2 hours to have a look around during daylight hours. I admit the electrical breakdown could not have been foreseen, but given that passengers had paid good money for the cruise, some compensation should have been offered. The ship delayed its departure until 11pm to allow the tour groups to complete their tours.This was the only concession made by the cruise line. Next stop Incheon Korea The port at Incheon is about 1.5 hours from Seoul (the advertised port of call on the itinerary) and the train stops at all stations along the way. The town of Incheon is 30 minutes from the dock. There were no money exchange establishments at the dock and as the ship only changed passengers money into US dollars, passengers ,were forced to find banks that were open ,and would change foreign currency, into Korean won.. There were no arrangements made for the passengers who found the shore excursions too expensive. The cruise line arranged a shuttle bus into Incheon and that was it. The shuttle bus dropped passengers off in the street in Incheon, and with no guide or Korean speaking interpreter available, passengers were once again left to their own devices trying to negotiate with Korean Taxi drivers, who struggled with the English language. The ship could have had a Korean interpreter available to help people, but chose to leave them all to their struggle by themselves. The ships attitude was that, if you wanted organised tours, then pay the exorbitant fees for their tours, or fend for yourself. The ship had no money changing facilities for passengers to change money for any of the countries that we were visiting. All tours arranged by the ship were charged in US dollars which were meant that Australian passengers were out of pocket by 30%, before they started. All tours were in excess of $250 US per person. Entry into china During the days at sea between Busan and Incheon the ship informed all passengers that, if you don’t have a Visa to enter china, then you won’t be allowed to leave the ship. This left over 200 passengers at the mercy of the ship, who demanded $350us for a visa that could be purchased in Australia for $169. There were passengers from Germany, Switzerland, Canada, and America as well as the Australians who had all been informed that they did not require a Visa. Following lengthy and heated discussions with all of these nationalities the guest relations Leader was called in to explain the exact meaning of the transit visa. The Guest relation leader was able to explain the Visa requirements that the Chinese embassy could not. In simple terms, to be eligible for the 144 hr visa, you must be a transit passenger, travelling from one country into China, and leaving to a third country, which cannot be the same country, that you entered from. For example when we left Jeju island, which is part of Korea and entered China at Shanghai, we had an airline ticket to a third country, being Thailand, which meant that the 144hr visa would cover this visit The visit to Beijing china coming from Incheon Korea and then returning to Jeju island Korea, meant that we did not meet the transit passenger criteria. If the Chinese embassy had have explained this rule, and passed this information on, then the 200 passengers who thought that they had checked out the visa requirements, would not have been put in this position. For many, the massive fee being charged was too much, and they chose to stay on the ship for the 3 days that we were in port. The Port of Tainjin is 1.5 hrs from the town of Tainjin which is 1.5 hrs from Beijing. Once again the ship had made no arrangements to transport passengers from the port to available public transport and they were left to negotiate with Chinese taxi drivers who had upped their fees because there were two ships in port at the same time. In contrast, the other ship, from Holland America, had 10 shuttle busses available for their passengers waiting on the dock. The ship organised tours to Beijing, visiting the great wall, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and Chairmen Mao’s house. These tours started at $275us per person and depending on the tour selected, the price went upwards from there ,so when converted into Australian dollars, a family of three would be up for over a thousand dollars to take the cheapest tour being offered. The tours took over twelve hours and included 8 hours of travel on a tour bus. The Port of Tainjin is too far away from Beijing making tours expensive and tiresome. If China intends for this to be their main Beijing Port for all visiting cruise ships, it will need to extend the bullet train tracks to the Port. Currently the bullet train runs from Tainjin and takes 40 minutes to reach Beijing. The battle is getting from the Tainjin port to the Tainjin station which is 1.5hrs away. Next port of call was Jeju South Korea Because the ship chose to go from Busan to Incheon, and then Beijing , passing Jeju island, along the way, and then back to Jeju island, they caused 2500 passengers to pay for a visa, that would not have been required if they had called in at Jeju island on the way to Incheon. They also have used twice as much fuel crossing the East China Sea, three times instead of once. The island of Jeju was a little bit more organised with a hop on hop off bus provided at the port to take passengers around the island. The ship had its tours available as well, but passengers were able to see most of the island for a very modest price of $16 AUD on the hop on hop off bus, instead of the $175US charged by the ship. There were many cherry blossom trees out in flower around the island and they made a great display. The bus took passengers past the international airport and around the coast rd to the far side of the island. There were 16 stops where passengers could get off or on the bus. Final port of call, back across the east China sea again, to Shanghai. The ship arrived at Shanghai at 6.00am and passengers disembarked in groups as designated by the ship. Shanghai was about an hour’s drive from the port and the taxi drivers were a much better group to deal with. There were booking agents, who organised limousine van drivers, to take passengers and their luggage to their hotels at reasonable prices. This of course was not organised by the cruise line. Entertainment The ship provided nightly shows in their theatre, many of which were very good. One group calling themselves the Aussie boys were excellent, singing songs from the 70’s 80’s and 90’s. The soul singers were also quite good and the mime duo was excellent. There ship had 6 days at sea during which time passengers had to amuse themselves. Other cruises that I have been on have had nonstop Karaoke, cooking classes for women and interested men, shuttle board courts, golf driving ranges, rock climbing walls and basket ball courts. Celebrity has very little to offer, and use art auctions, and Jewellery sales trying to make up for their lack of foresight. Conclusion Celebrity cruises appear to have one major objective. Once they have enticed you onto one of their cruises, by offering a reasonable price for your fare to get you onto their ship, then they do everything in their power, to up sell you to spend more and more money, on beverage packages, soft drink packages, tours that have hugely inflated prices, and are all charged in US dollars, photograph packages, art auctions, watch sales, jewellery sales, and the list goes on. One lady bought a painting at one of their auctions for $50us and when she went to pick it up, was told that they only had a copy for sale purposes, and that her copy would need to be posted to her, at a cost of $65us . They take your photo when you get on the ship and then want to take your photo as many times as possible at every port, charging $25US per photo. They even offer to put it in a small frame for an additional $75US. The ship has 5 additional restaurants that are not included in the price for the cruise. The crew spend every available minute during meal times in the buffet café, trying to entice you to visit these other restaurants, which cost $125US per head to eat at them. Celebrity could make their cruises much more enjoyable for their passengers, if they provided options for them to access public transport. They could have an interpreter at each Port, who would be one of their crew members, that could help passengers to negotiate with the foreign taxi drivers, overcome language barriers, and show them how to get to public transport. They could provide shuttle busses at every port to get passengers to the nearest public transport. Passengers would not mind paying a small fee for the shuttle bus, if it took them to the train stations etc. Celebrity cruises need to provide money changing services at their concierge desk, so that passengers can change money into the currency of the country that they are about to visit. Most passengers would not mind receiving a little less than the going rate for the convenience of being able to do this, in a calm organised way while the ship is at sea . The rooms on the ship were comfortable and the cabin stewards do a wonderful job. Our steward was excellent and nothing was too much trouble for him. The stateroom that I was in had an adjoining door between my room and the one next door, for a family. This door was kept locked, but the wind whistled in through the gap around the door and kept me awake at night until the cabin steward had it repaired. This is the first cruise that I have been on, that didn’t supply free bottled water in the stateroom. It was available, but at $5US per bottle. Ships such as Holland America and Royal Caribbean supply two bottles per day to each cabin, free of charge. There was no kettle, cup and saucers, or tea and coffee supplied in the room. This was provided, after requesting it from the cabin steward. We managed to have our stateroom steward arrange a jug of ice water, delivered to our stateroom each day ,to have clean, cool, drinking water available. One of the biggest complaints that I have, is the lack of security for your passport, on Celebrity cruises. The guest assistance desk made many bad mistakes regarding passports, sending messages to our room, requesting us to deliver our passports to them, while all the while they were holding our passports, in their office. They had even issued us with a receipt when we handed over our passport but they were unable to understand their own system. It was a clear that the right hand did not know, what the left hand was doing The Visa that we have paid $750US for was taken by the ship and we had nothing to show that we even had a Visa. We threatened to have our bank stop payment on the credit card if they didn’t provide us with copies of the expensive visas Celebrity appear to go out of their way to make it as hard as possible for passengers to go their own way, trying to force you to use their tours, which do not suit everybody, as they may not want to look at temples in every port. The activities on the boat leave a lot to be desired as they only have a few trivia quizzes and a few board games, plus the occasional skill completion with bow and arrow. There is the Casino when the ship is in open waters, but it is not everybody’s cup of tea. The intercom system only broadcasts into the corridors, unless there is an emergency. Most of the announcements are more than half over, by the time passengers can get their door open and get out into the corridor. The ship should have a switch in each cabin so the passengers can decide if they want the messages broadcast into their cabin or not. The emergency messages would come through, regardless of whether the switch is on or off. There is also no communication phone in the bathrooms on the ship, and should a passenger take a turn or a fall, they have no way of obtaining assistance, until the steward comes in to make their room up for the night. The ocean view café staff were excellent, and I could not speak highly enough of them. They worked long hours, always with a smile on their face, even though some passengers would have been very hard to deal with. The food was excellent, and there was plenty of variety, from Pizza and hot dogs through to roast lamb, roast beef, steak sausages, chops and a variety of vegetables. There was a salad bar and a seafood section, there was an Indian food section, and there was an Asian food section. There was fresh fruit and sweets including icecream and soft serve. The ala carte dining room was well utilised but most passengers then came down to the ocean view café, to make up for the tiny portions offered in ala carte. The beauty of the oceanview café was you had no time restrictions placed on you, and you had all the food you could eat, and all the variety you could wish for. I did not enjoy the problems endured on this cruise and would not cruise on Celebrity cruises again Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This is my fourth Celebrity Cruise and my first on the M-class. The ship’s renovation gave the entire ship a fresh look. Cabin bathrooms have been redesigned and seem roomier. The drawers in the cabin are larger for more practical ... Read More
This is my fourth Celebrity Cruise and my first on the M-class. The ship’s renovation gave the entire ship a fresh look. Cabin bathrooms have been redesigned and seem roomier. The drawers in the cabin are larger for more practical clothes storage. Although the desk area was smaller, there was more countertop space above the drawers and near the closet. The only criticism is that a small table is needed in front of the chair. The full size sofa is replaced with a wide chair. The beds and new mattresses were comfortable. I really like the new store/shopping arrangement, although nearly all the stores are “high end.” I think the new arrangement of food stations in the Oceanview Cafe is awkward, as the kitchen is now in the center of the room and one has to walk around it to get from one side to the other to find all the stations. I found the ice cream station 2 days before the end of the 14 day cruise. The crew service was the best I’ve ever had on any cruise. The crew seemed happy, always had a smile to share, was willing to help and our cabin steward Naresh in Aqua class was outstanding! The food on Blu was very good and the QSine menu and food were excellent! We had some excellent entertainment. The enrichment activities were okay, although we did have some interesting Behind the Podium speakers for those interested in foods, science and sea life, or Buddhism. Overall, I look forward to sailing on the Millennium again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
I have "lurked" on CC often in preparation for this cruise and others so decided to attempt to share my (and my husband's) latest experience in the hopes that it will provide some info for others. We were 6 travellers (2 ... Read More
I have "lurked" on CC often in preparation for this cruise and others so decided to attempt to share my (and my husband's) latest experience in the hopes that it will provide some info for others. We were 6 travellers (2 have sailed Celebrity often) but for 4 of us, it was our first time on Celebrity although we have all cruised many many times over the past years. We have more often spent time on RCI, MSC, Princess, Celebrity (often for 2 of us) ships and enjoyed an Oceania Transatlantic crossing in October. After spending a week or so in fabulous Hong Kong, we reached the port on Saturday,March 16th about 3 or so hours before departure. Perhaps we should have boarded earlier as it was not an especially good first impression for me - few staff to direct passengers and a confusing process to follow to get checked in at port and on board-not the usual warm welcome on board I expected. However, things did look up as our Aqua class balcony was newly refurbished and we met our friendly and hard-working steward Efren who took wonderful care of us. As noted by others, the new decor is a bit bland but it was very clean and storage was ample although I am not sure how well it will keep up over the longer term. Luckily, there were no issues with the bathroom-the shower had strong pressure, there was lots of hot water and shelving was fine. The sofa was too really small for 2 persons to sit comfortably and one of us had to use the bed to read or relax or sit on the cold balcony! I'm hoping too that Celebrity will address the issue of not being able to hear any announcements in the room-I had to open the door and stick my head out to hear. Otherwise all good. Breakfast was A+ and dinner service in Blu was very nice (hard-working,pleasant staff) and it was great to have a smaller private dining venue. However, the menu was definitely not as exciting as expected given the hype heard from Celebrity and others. Perhaps it was just not to our taste but some combinations were just not appealing and servings were small-I counted 2 smallish scallops once on my plate. We often turned to the buffet for breakfast/lunch and even dinner. The buffet had ample choice (although sometimes repetitive and bland) but you had to search hard for veggies if you did not want salad fixings. Seats were often hard to find but the servers bustled about clearing tables and we never waited long for a drink server to find us. I realise that feeding so many people is difficult but it was often hit and miss on the serving temperature side in the buffet and even in Blu - it was more often than not just "warmish" and you were very happy when you struck a hot dish. I did send a dish back once but as we all know, sometimes it is just too much bother. And where was the exotic fruit hiding when in Asia? Dragon fruit/watermelon/cantaloupe/apples/oranges were mostly it. One final thing-the canapes offered daily to Aqua class passengers were not good to say the least-2 x 4 tiny types of cheese bites etc. I tried to stop them but they kept coming - not a great use of resources. Entertainment was ok-after all,it has to appeal to lots of people and the in-house players were enthusiastic and put on excellent shows. Lecture subjects were not at all appealing-old subjects without much fun. Wi-fi was ok - often slow but better late at night or very early. Staff were the best part of the experience as they were 100% friendly, ready to greet you with a smile or hello and very hard-working. Celebrity is fortunate to have them all. Ports were fine as travel is all about exploring although Jeju island would not be a "have-to-see again" port although to be fair, we just wandered around and shopped a bit in the city using the free short shuttle bus ride to get there. We used a private tour to spend 2 nights in Beijing - it was a packed experience and much better value even for a group of 4 persons. The other 3 ship tours which we did were predictably less fun due to group size and pace but were fine especially as we took advantage of a promotion and did not pay full-price. Visit to Busan was interesting especially the temple and fish market. Museum visit in Taipei was too crowded to really enjoy but buffet lunch at Grand Hotel was fabulous with seafood and Asian offerings. It was very fortunate that we were on a refurbished Millennium which is a good sized ship with nice public spaces and amenities. All in all, I feel it was an average cruise ship experience as my expectations were higher on food and entertainment. Celebrity offerings did not "Wow" me any more than other cruise lines such as RCI and Oceania although it may not be 100% fair to compare the latter. China and Korea were great visit experiences especially with a sea day between ports to recover. My husband and I are not sure if we would try Celebrity again as there are so many options available but remain open-minded. Hope this helped and I would be happy to answer any questions. Happy next cruising to all! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We joined a group of friends who had selected this cruise. The food in the dining room at dinner time was inconsistent, ranging from very good to inedible (eg steaks). Our server Marie was excellent. Breakfast and lunch in the ... Read More
We joined a group of friends who had selected this cruise. The food in the dining room at dinner time was inconsistent, ranging from very good to inedible (eg steaks). Our server Marie was excellent. Breakfast and lunch in the dining room was consistently very good. Our cabin midship on the fourth deck by the tender gangway should not be used for guests. There was consistent irritating noises day and night from ship operations. The on-board entertainment and musicians were excellent. We particularly enjoyed listening to the Love Brothers and Lira. Other than the Tsar’s Palace main dining room we ate in O’Sheehan’s which we found quite good. We did not eat at the Garden Cafe buffet or any of the specialty restaurants. The alcohol prices were more than we were willing to pay even though we enjoy a glass of wine at dinner time. The majority of our alcohol consumption was while we were in port. We chose private shore excursions with our group of twelve rather than ship excursions. We prefer the chance to customize our own tours at a cost savings. For example the Ancient Temples Tour in Ko Samui, Thailand listed at $149.00 per person from the ship was done by our group by private tour arranged on shore for $20.00 per person for basically the same tour. Activities listed in the daily schedule were mostly money making for the cruise line. In summary it is highly unlikely that we will sail with Norwegian again unless they are the only ones that have an itinerary that we want to do. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This cruise was a big treat for our 5 year anniversary and it did not disappoint! This ship just came out of the Celebrity Revolution transformation dry dock and though we had a few technical glitches on the cruise due to working out the ... Read More
This cruise was a big treat for our 5 year anniversary and it did not disappoint! This ship just came out of the Celebrity Revolution transformation dry dock and though we had a few technical glitches on the cruise due to working out the kinks in new technology, any time there was an issue, they upped the service across the ship. This kind of service recovery is a huge win in my book. They anticipated guest needs and created options almost at the speed of light. The destinations were remarkable and extra thought went into planning transportation to and from the cruise docks to major hubs/ transportation to get into the big cities (Seoul, Busan). The Service - WOW! I think Celebrity specifically hires for personality and genuine care and this ship in particular has a senior staff that knows it's people create the experience. Even the captain was approachable and engaged in creating a true customer service experience. Every single employee we met was warm and accommodating and wanted to get to know us. It's easy to train somebody on points of service, but to have someone create a connection is much harder to instill in someone and usually is just a natural trait of a great person. They all had an eye for detail and their service was polished and elevated without feeling stuffy and disconnected. If there was an issue, the employee was ready with options and showed the utmost concern and empathy. The Cabin - AquaClass 1008 The Revolution has added SO MUCH STORAGE to the rooms and created a fresh and timeless look. Our room was our only issue on this cruise. Previously on the Millennium, our cabin didn't exist, it used to be where the Spa locker rooms were located. The room was just steps away from the thermal suite (included in aqua class) and the solarium pool which was IDEAL. The only issue was... 6 of the 13 new rooms are located just under the nightclub and we were one of them. It was fine the 1st two nights when nothing was going on but by the 3rd night, the bass thumping was just too much and really impacted the peace of our cabin making it hard to sleep. The balcony had no shade but also had no impeded view of the water. (Watch out if you have a rainy season cruise, you can't enjoy your balcony like lower decks) The additional spa amenities are nice and the robes are cushy but they took out the SPA shower in the bathroom! NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I was so looking forward to all those extra jets. The bed and furnishings were so comfortable and high quality. The cruise staff had already been made aware on the cruise before ours of noise issues in the new rooms on deck 10 and when we went down to notify them, they apologized profusely and understood our concerns as they too, were not keen on those rooms being added in the dry dock knowing their proximity to the nightclub. On the next day, they had us moved to an Aqua Class on deck 9 mid-ship which was just as lovely (plus, it had the overhang from the pool deck on 10 which meant we could still enjoy the balcony on the rainy Korean sea days). They even gave us an additional specialty dining credit and a voucher knowing that we booked the 10th deck as a higher level of Aqua Class. Again, the service recovery and proactive approach was AMAZING. The Dining Our room included the Blu dining room and it was phenomenal! Our servers and sommeliers were so attentive and FUN! They joked and laughed with us while providing and incredible meal from the well-trained culinary team. We also had new friends who did not have access to BLU, so we would dine occasionally with them in the main dining room and they attention to service and detail was at the same level along with the fresh and varied menus for a 14 day cruise. The specialty restaurants were fantastic as well and Tuscan Grille became a quick favorite of ours with the different groups we met always wanting to go back. Celebrity has a knack for delivering varied menus with super fresh ingredients and great flavors. Wine (as always) was in plentiful supply and the variety was amazing. Beer and alcohol had some stocking issues (standards that should be at every bar weren't getting re-stocked) but this was acknowledged by the Beverage director at a wine tasting. Traveling in and out of Asia ports has its limitations of what is available and what actually shows up to the ship. Entertainment For a 14 day cruise, there was not a dull moment on the ship and they had so much variety in specialty acts and the players on board. The musicians that Celebrity hires are some of the best (MSC and Celebrity care about great music in public spaces). The activities were fun and engaging and being one of the only couples under 40 on the ship, I had worries, but they made sure to tailor to all ages. (SILENT DISCO!!!) I was so sad to disembark the Millennium knowing a new standard had been set for service and experience. The employees felt like extended family (because they take the time to connect and get to know you) and it was bittersweet leaving them. I highly recommend you cruise on the Millennium because the captain knows his ship is an extension of himself and will be your home for however many days you are onboard. They will make sure you leave wanting to come back. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise based primarily on the itinerary. In summary we had a good vacation despite a few notable shortcomings with Norwegian. We found the ship to be very relaxing with a good mix of entertainment options, public spaces like ... Read More
We chose this cruise based primarily on the itinerary. In summary we had a good vacation despite a few notable shortcomings with Norwegian. We found the ship to be very relaxing with a good mix of entertainment options, public spaces like casino, bars, pool, etc; and nice private spaces - our stateroom was the perfect size for our family of 3 (larger than the Celebrity cruise we took a few years back). Service onboard was generally adequate. Many guest facing folks were nice, and enthusiastic. However, there was a higher proportion of staff on this cruise who simply weren't as friendly as they should have been. Specialty restaurant waitstaff were generally underwhelming. Front desk / reception was a challenge (they were not able to help on really the only 2 issues that came up for us). Not only could they not help, but they definitely did not display empathy nor the desire to go out of their way to come up with creative solutions. Check-in in Hong Kong was not as described - we arrived around 12:30 and were issued a queue number, ended up waiting about 2 hours to get checked in and onboard. Once we were called to check in, the process was quick and efficient. I was surprised and uncomfortable with the fact that they collected our passports (and kept them) at the boarding door. I don't think this was communicated ahead of time, and in general was not something I felt good about. When I asked why this was happening, the woman literally laughed at me - perhaps a language/culture barrier problem but off-putting nonetheless. Food - was OK, definitely a mixed bag. Leathery bacon at the buffet - consistently. Ice cream machines that couldn't keep up with demand (serving liquidy soft serve). Chin Chin's was in general not tasty (we ordered 5 different entrees among 4 adults) and the only one that tasted good was the sweet/sour pork. Cagney's steak was supremely disappointing - meat quality was mid-market grocery store level (think safeway or albertson's "choice" cuts). The silver lining in this cloud was the notion that since the food wasn't great, we didn't overeat. Ever. I overheard other adults making similar statements. With about 3 days remaining onboard, we found there were some things they were running out of. No pineapple at the buffet. No lemons for iced tea. No sprinkles for ice cream. These seem like small things, but they are the little things that make a vacation great or less-than-great. Excursions - the selection was a bit thin. Too many similar outings to temples across the various ports. Would have been nice to have a few more cultural viewpoints that were more diversified. Also, our experience in Cambodia was not good - a beach with no amenities and a market with no amenities. Other tours were too limited in availability and we did not get our reservation in on time. The brightest shining stars on this cruise: 1) The cabin was large (we had a mini suite balcony - essentially one room with a curtain divider between the bed and the pull-out sofabed). Much nicer than our previous experience on Celebrity. The fact that it has recently been renewed I think helped. 2) Our 6-year old absolutely loved the Kids Club. We literally couldn't pull her away. The staff were all amazing, engaging, fun. Lots of great activities. This was our first Norwegian cruise and while we didn't hate it, they also didn't make a good enough impression on us to convince us to stop trying new cruise lines. Our next cruise likely won't be with Norwegian. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
CABIN (see below) DINING The Metropolitan Dining Room looked gorgeous, and for the most part, the food matched its elegance to such an extent that we didn't have to contemplate paying extra for specialty dining. Still, when I saw ... Read More
CABIN (see below) DINING The Metropolitan Dining Room looked gorgeous, and for the most part, the food matched its elegance to such an extent that we didn't have to contemplate paying extra for specialty dining. Still, when I saw the menu the first night, I felt it was not as high-brow as I had hoped. Thankfully, the impression improved, but when they had something really decent, they put EVERYTHING I was looking forward to into that one evening (lobster tail, rack of lamb, beef Wellington). There were other blemishes: not knowing what "English cut" was for the prime rib, for example, the Béarnaise not having any tarragon in it, subbing sea bream for the advertised cod without first telling diners (only owning up to it when challenged, and thereby looking like they were passing off one fish for another), and the soup course being weak almost all around, hot or cold... For the most part, though, the food was fresh and tasty, and the service at most seatings, exquisite. It was a marvel that they kept so much food going around so hot, and that one night when a Grand Marnier soufflé was offered for dessert took the cake, so to speak. I was also amazed and thankful that our wine steward Jelena remembered my name on the second night, and even more thankful that she gave us (and everyone else?) a 20% discount off all bottled wines, making the choosing of any of the packages quite unnecessary. The mark-up was your usual restaurant-type (before the discount kicked in) - I would not recommend lugging your own and paying the $25 corkage unless you're talking about 3-figure fine wines. The buffet at the Oceanview café, too, was impressive - LOTS of variety, fresh, and most of it well-prepared (those Indian dishes!!!), intruded upon occasionally by a lack of authenticity that ranged from frustrating (cannoli not made with mascarpone, and tiramisu with no actual lady fingers in it) to ROTFL ridiculous (at the "Indian Favorites" carving station, they featured - you guessed it - roast BEEF!) But there's a dire dearth in seating to handle a ship of this size, a situation not helped by inconsiderate fellow cruisers (a couple sitting opposite each other in a square table for four...) ENRICHMENT / ENTERTAINMENT Listening to Dr. Gary Kramer talk about everything from whales to stars, as well as hold court in a wide-ranging QnA, was a pleasure - dude and wife are accomplished dancers too! Most of the entertainment was good - musical guests included an accomplished Chinese pianist/composer Jiang Tian and various great singers; the revue had its moments, with a fine young female singer leading the way, but the first show was confusing, and just average when it came to singing/dancing (the final night was a little better). EXCURSIONS & PORTS OF CALL Ship excursions were by and large pricey and not worth the money. Just by way of an example, the excursion to Beijing from the ship at the port in Tianjin comprises a bus ride there and back (3 hours each way): cost, $119 for this "self-guided tour" per person. With a little bit of planning, a couple can take a taxi to the Binhai train station ($12 each way) and take the high speed train right into Beijing ($10 per person each way), saving not only a boatload of money ($65 vs. $258) but trimming 2 hours of travel time. We loved all 3 places in South Korea - heck, all the ports of call, but felt we could easily have spent more time on land than cruising in the ocean at a slow speed. MISCELLANEOUS As mentioned, the Celebrity Millenium experience exceeded my expectations, as did "staying cooped up for 14 nights" - cuz we didn't, as we went ashore to explore at every port, and it was a great adventure. Some touches of "luxury" are appreciated (most waiters helping you place the napkin in your lap), while others are unnecessary (cloths to dry your hands in every public bathroom - in addition to paper towels). The gym is just too small for a ship this size: can't quite picture what would happen when it's not an older crowd like ours. The damn TVs did not work 95% of the time on 90% of the channels. The Solarium is beautiful, but the water in the hot tub is way not hot enough, and the number of hot tubs, inadequate. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise because of its itinerary and our last experience with Celebrity. Also the ship had just had a refurbishment (Revolutionised) To be frank we found the ship along with its entertainment rather bland bordering on ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of its itinerary and our last experience with Celebrity. Also the ship had just had a refurbishment (Revolutionised) To be frank we found the ship along with its entertainment rather bland bordering on dull. The refurbishment of the cabins were welcoming, better showers and use of space in the cabin,new flat screen tvs (although poor selection of material, also in the worst resolution i have experienced on a cruise ship,only the ships own hd cameras selling all of their products was properly watchable hmm.) The cabins were kit out in beige and autumn colours,which were fine, unfortunately the whole ship followed this trend (The exception being Al Bacio which is unchanged) which only added to the blandness. I know entertainment can be subjective but in my humble opinion cruise lines have a duty to provide modern and interesting acts not just churning out the same or tired old acts,speakers etc.Celebrity are well behind in this and need to freshen up their talent spotters. Food in the M.D.R. was poor,the menu names sounded good but when the food was served it was not the best presented or tasty, also on the warm side instead of hot.(one stringy steak dinner was served with four (yes 4) chips (french fries for our American cousins). The ocean view provided a better selection, tastier and of course a faster service. We had drink packages (I upgraded to top shelf spirits as i enjoy a makers mark bourbon) After 3-4 days (on a fourteen night cruise) the selection of cider was down to strongbow which is the cheapest, also you had to search the ship for a can of boddingtons ale. Also the pour of drinks with mixers is dreadful you have to tell virtually every bar person how to mix a drink, otherwise your glass would be full to the brim with ice an indiscriminate amount of spirit would be sloshed in and then a mixer (coke,tonic etc) from an open can or bottle would be added, this would normally would be flat from sitting for a long period.Please celebrity invest in mixer machines that keeps your drink lively and train every bar person to pour a 25 ml shot in a single, it is not rocket science. The ship in general is clean and tidy but it is boring and needs a new outlook if it is going to compete in this industry it is not enough to replace carpets and beds and chairs.It has stood still in a market that has moved forward in every aspect and i fear that there is not enough cruisers out there to sustain it. Jazz Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This is our third time on the Millennium and the ship was getting old. The new cabins and the buffet are really great. As usual, that staff were great and always smiled when they meet you. This cruise was not port intensive so there ... Read More
This is our third time on the Millennium and the ship was getting old. The new cabins and the buffet are really great. As usual, that staff were great and always smiled when they meet you. This cruise was not port intensive so there was time to relax between ports and enjoy the refurbished Millennium. The passengers were a real mix of people, I think they said there were passengers from 52 nations with a large contingent from Canada, Australia and Germany along with the USA. We did not eat in the specialty restaurants since we think they are over priced. The food in the Main Dinning Room was good with enough selections to please anyone. The portion sizes were adequate, I heard some say they were on the small size, but you could always ask for more. I would highly recommend that Celebrity expand their enrichment classes and focus more on history of the places we were going to visit. They should also consider offering hands on computer classes like Holland America at no cost to the passengers. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This is our 1st Celebrity cruise, but it was my 11th overall. Definitely did not live up to my expectations. Since the ship was refurbished, we expected it to be nicer, unfortunately it was such a disappointment. Cabin: we booked a ... Read More
This is our 1st Celebrity cruise, but it was my 11th overall. Definitely did not live up to my expectations. Since the ship was refurbished, we expected it to be nicer, unfortunately it was such a disappointment. Cabin: we booked a concierge class. heat was broken. it was so cold. We called service desk and no one picked up the phone, so we went down to guest service desk & it took them about 1/2 day to finally send someone to our cabin to fix the heat. Our cabin steward was attentive & polite. Food: very poor menu, less than average food. Prime rib was chewy, seafood was not fresh. Self service buffet served almost same food every day. Food was either cold, too salty or tasteless. There was no service, no smiles, except the last night some of them tried to make conversation with us...then asked us to write good review. What a joke! Public restroom: We were locked in the restroom stalls twice. Thanks goodness that there were someone in the restroom, so they were able to go get the maintenance person to unlock for us. Entertainment: lack of entertainment. There was not much to do on the cruise. Ports & shore excursions: Seoul highlight excursion was OK. Shanghai highlight excursion was below average. I would not recommend Celebrity and will not be back myself. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary although we had been to all of the countries that were on the itinerary as recent as on a river cruise in 2017 to Viet Nam and Cambodia. The embarkation took 2 1/2 hours of which was the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary although we had been to all of the countries that were on the itinerary as recent as on a river cruise in 2017 to Viet Nam and Cambodia. The embarkation took 2 1/2 hours of which was the longest embark that we had to endure after a long flight from US to Hong Kong one day prior. We were tired and hungry, but all of the restaurants were closed by the time we got on board because it was time for Muster. Our package included premium beverage, four specialty dining restaurants, unlimited internet, which was nice although the internet was crawling most of the time, and 120 free phone calls of which we used 55 minutes. We were extremely dissapponted to find out that we had to pay NCL $69 each to get a Viet Nam Visa and $89 each for a Cambodia Visa at embark. Of course, we were not aware of getting visas in advance because we planned not to get off in Cambodia because the ship only port one day there, and because we were in Cambodia 2017. The River Cruise Company advised us in advance that we had to get visa for Nam and Cambodia, but NCL did not. Moreover, Viet Nam charges $25 for its Visa; Cambodia charges $30, and it took us less than 5 weeks to get both visa. NCL charged $69 and $89, 3x the charge??? When several passengers asked the crews at the reception, one said because it was an emergency visas; other said to me because they “are merchant” visas. I pointed to that crew member the Viet Nam visa that was stapled to my passports in 2017 indicating that was a “merchant” visa, too, yet, I didn’t have to pay $69 and I got to keep the visa. I don’t know if that crew member got trained appropriately or he thought he could fool me into believing his feeble infor. On this trip, we had to turn in our Nam Visa on the last port day in Nam. So for those who want to keep it for souvenir are of our luck! The food in the Specialty Dining Restaurants was mediocre and poor in some instances. The restaurants’ staffs seemed trying but the execution was poor. At Cagney’s Steak house, I asked for a medium rare filet mignon, it came out rare. The server took it back, the kitchen recooked the steak that I already cut into instead of giving me a new one. What happened if I were sick with a cold or have some kind of contagious illness? Some thoughts for the management. Another incident at Chin Chin, Asian Fusion Restaurant, a line item on the menu, “Chinese Chicken...” one of the passengers asked the server, “what is Chinese Chicken?” The server responded with a laugh, “may be it’s small...” He then apologized later knowing what he said was inappropriate. Note for NCL management, there should be no Chinese Chickens, no American Chickens, and etc...on the menu. There were many more that we could name. In summary, we have cruised many times on large cruise ships and many more on river cruise ships, our experiences were better than NCL, which was our first time. We are not so sure if we want to give NCL a second chance! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Just completed a 12 day cruise on the Navigator and was very disappointed. We had sailed on Regent before (although 20 years ago); our most recent trips had been mostly on Crystal, and our expectations were very high. First of all, ... Read More
Just completed a 12 day cruise on the Navigator and was very disappointed. We had sailed on Regent before (although 20 years ago); our most recent trips had been mostly on Crystal, and our expectations were very high. First of all, the ship is very old....definitely at the end of its life in spite of a major refurbishment just three years ago. There is a musty/moldy smell in many areas of the ship (my wife is highly allergic to mold), and there are many signs of aging, including malfunctioning A/C in many of the cabins. Service was mostly perfunctory, at best. This may be, in part, due to the fact that this was a segment of their "World Cruise" (nearly half the ship as on for over 130 days), so non-World Cruisers were definitely second-class citizens. The staff would fawn over the World Travelers, but, other than our stewardess, no one seemed to know our names. Communication was extremely poor. The cruise director, Jamie, seemed to be mostly MIA. He was even absent for the opening meeting with all new guests...just a voice over the speaker. My experience on this ship has made me rethink ever cruising on Regent again. I don't know if was this ship, or whether Regent is in decline. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
I am writing this review after a 3 day pre-cruise itinerary in Hong Kong and first full day, while fresh in my mind. I will add further updates. The airport pickup and transfer well, even though they were not prepared for 4 people with ... Read More
I am writing this review after a 3 day pre-cruise itinerary in Hong Kong and first full day, while fresh in my mind. I will add further updates. The airport pickup and transfer well, even though they were not prepared for 4 people with 2 pieces of luggage with carryons each (although that is what we told them we would have). The Langham Hotel was excellent in all aspects - location, rooms, breakfast provided. The first day tour was just hotel transfer to the hotel, but we booked our own private tour which was great. Day 2 with Regent was really sub-par, made worse by rainy, cloudy weather. Nevertheless, we stuck to the itinerary of a train trip to the top of Victoria Peak for the (non)view (we went to the top to re-board our bus and spent no time there). Then on to our lunch at Stanley Market (which was a pretty poor example of a street market compared to the center of Kowloon). We ate at an authentic buffet lunch of —— German food in Hong Kong! Day 3 was a long trip to Po Lin Monastery (of course the cable car was closed) , a better than expected vegetarian lunch, then a visit to tourist trap Ngong Ping village. Pretty lame day - definitely best to explore on your own and set up private tours. The mid-cruise feedback form was filled with issues. We have not heard back from the crew - do not believe the “commitment to excellence.” They are committed to apologizing and being empathetic, as they have much practice from what I have heard from many other cruisers. More specifics: 1] The towels placed on the poolside chairs are changed once a day. If someone is lying on the towel and leaves, the towels are reused for the unsuspecting next poolside guest. 2] First day of the cruise (we paid plenty extra for alcohol included, but no Riesling wine (they did find one bottle for the 12 day cruise) and no Pina Colada mix ( after 9 days they did get off the ship to get more mix, but ran out after 1 day). 3] Salad poolside is served warm - not kept on ice or refrigerated. The salad plates are hot, also not kept in a cooler. Who really wants warm salad? 4] Same for the sodas. Warm Coke cans are opened - so they are not carbonated well. Poured over ice results in flat, diluted soda. I’ll stick to water, but it is warm if you want it from a bottle (or boxed water) - only water from the ship is cold (gee - wasn’t it brown water in my room)? Even refrigerator in room barely kept drinks cool. 5] Although I had expected great service due to a smaller ship with a high staff:passenger ratio, I felt that the service was really poor compared to Oceana. At the buffets, people were leaning over food and mis-handling the serving utensils (not very hygienic) similar to any Golden Corral in the U.S.)- as opposed to being served by gloved staff. It frequently took my asking servers multiple times to bring me drinks, bread, etc. Sometimes I just got up to do it myself. 6] The food menu is pretty extensive - which is good. The food is generally good (although I personally did not think it was uniformly good, but I did have alternative choices) - not as good as the restaurants I had experienced on Oceana but much better than Royal Carribean. Prime 7 is very good. The staff in the Italian buffet are understaffed and running around making it a hectic, not relaxing dinner, but better the second night. 7] When going on tours, only warm water is handed out when leaving the ship. Cold water is not routinely given out on the buses. Generally, the tour buses are good, the tours are pretty average to sub-par. 8] Now at day 10 after completing Bangkok “2 day“ visit. Rather than dock in Bangkok as was in the original itinerary, we docked 2.5 hours away in Laem Chabang. The excuse was low tide (we found out after boarding, others found out 1 week before). I am sure the real reason was it cheaper, as there were no other cruise ships in our port and other cruise ships were docked in Bangkok at the same time. The times of our docking did not change, so there was no way to reasonably go to Bangkok on day 1, with the “alternative offered was to go to Bangkok on day 1 (and at my own expense) book a hotel room and book my own tours to return on day 2 at 1:30 PM. On day 2 we left at 6 AM to have a very rushed visit to the Grand Palace, canal ride on the Chao Phraya river and a buffet lunch at a Sheraton hotel before returning at 1:30 PM - spent more time driving than touring - 2 days wasted in Thailand. I need to come back another time to actually visit the sites and see Bangkok! The entertainment has been better than expected. Staff are pleasant and very apologetic. When we explained our concerns personally to the ship General Manager, she was understanding and apologetic, offering a laughable $750 credit toward a future cruise, with no adjustment to the top dollar price of this cruise. With more protests, we were offered $750 each current cruise credit or $1500 eachfuture cruise credit. 9] The regular internet is very spotty, which I have found. To be fairly typical at sea. I paid for the upgrade to streaming internet, but became good friends with the internet guru with my daily visits due to inability to access the internet, and inability to stream (I tried to video stream a Peloton 45 minute exercise program, which worked for 12 minutes during my 45 minute exercise period). Other sites would not stream at all. Finally, I was told I would not be charged the $120 for the fast internet access I was not receiving). The good parts of this cruise: 1] The staff are friendly and try to be helpful, but are poorly trained (not their fault) and are limited with the ability to fix issues with a ship that should be taken out of service. The 10 day dry dock is not going to repair all the issues with the ship. They did try hard to address the many issues. 2] Bed is comfortable. The suite is comfortable (excluding the smell, toilet and brown sink water). High beds had plenty of storage underneath for big luggage. 3] Good quality entertainment. 4] Very good food and food choices. 5] We received a credit in order to book our own air travel, and were met in a timely fashion at the airport. Luggage transfers were seamless and done well. 6] Itinerary was good (better than the ports actually docked or the time allotted for touring). 7] Although it took great effort, we did receive $ credit. It did not make up for the lost time and aggravation of our vacation, but at least it was a token acknowledgement that there are major issues with the ship that were known beforehand but not publicized. We paid for a Ritz Carlton , and got a Motel 6 (sorry to Motel 6- as I am sure they have clean water in the bathroom Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Went on 5 day cruise from HK to Philippines. Unfortunately, there were some changes to the itinerary prior to sailing ( Borocay closed by the government so went to Subic Bay instead, and Manila docking changed from 8am until 11am which ... Read More
Went on 5 day cruise from HK to Philippines. Unfortunately, there were some changes to the itinerary prior to sailing ( Borocay closed by the government so went to Subic Bay instead, and Manila docking changed from 8am until 11am which was a bit annoying ). Embarkation in HK brilliant - mainly because so few people get on here, so no waiting time and pretty much straight on the ship. The downside to that is that you have a 3-4 hour wait in Nansha both ways to pick up and drop off the majority of the passengers, given this is an Asian ship catering for the Chinese market. We had an inside cabin and it suited us fine. It was spacious enough for 2 single beds, has fridge and safe and TV and kettle and all the things that you require in a cabin, apart from a view. Beds comfortable with nice pillows. Turn down service most nights, but no towel animals. As a vegan I always struggle on cruises. We ate in the Lido each meal and found a wonderful food manager, Burhan, who went out of his way to make sure that we had a hot vegan meal each night. The salads were some of the best I have seen on a cruise, with plenty of variety and although I struggled with breakfast only being able to eat fruit, there was ample choice for those that eat a full diet. The main dining rooms unfortunately offered very little in the way of vegetarian or vegan options. We did not eat at any of the speciality restaurants. Entertainment was once again great, with 3 different shows on our cruise, which you have to book once on board ( no charge ). The only issue we repeatedly find on this cruise line is the passengers come in late, stand in the aisle, talk and then leave before the show ends or the house lights come on. Staff did a good job trying to control this but they are fighting a losing battle. Cruise staff brilliant. Godie and his team on this cruise were fabulous and provided a variety of activities, with lots of fun and smiles. They really know how to make you feel welcome and how to get people involve and enjoying themselves. We did a Behind the Scenes tour, which is run by the cruise staff, and found this well worth doing and very interesting. There was dancing and a real party atmosphere most nights. The ship is lovely, and having also travelled on Genting, I liked this ship more. There are less poker machines and while the casino does spill out a bit, its not as bad as on Genting. The place is spotlessly cleaned, with staff constantly cleaning. Only issue is smoking is allowed on board in the casino, and the smoke does waft through the casino and the area around it. After 30 minutes sitting at a poker machine, which is a non smoking area, my clothes smelt of smoke. Although this is a ship designed and staffed for the Chinese market, we may have stood out but never felt left out as Westerners and everything we went to had both a Chinese and an English speaking staff member. We found all the English speaking staff very friendly and found more of the Chinese speaking staff making an effort on this cruise compared to previous cruises. Overall, we had a fabulous time on this cruise, mainly thanks to the cruise staff and how exceptionally nice they are and the generally nice Asian hospitality. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
By Glyn May The waiter, sensing that our patience was wearing thin, dropped a bowl of hot chips (fries) and a bottle of tomato sauce at our table. “Chef’s compliments”, he said, “ dinner is going to be a bit late”. ... Read More
By Glyn May The waiter, sensing that our patience was wearing thin, dropped a bowl of hot chips (fries) and a bottle of tomato sauce at our table. “Chef’s compliments”, he said, “ dinner is going to be a bit late”. Classy cruising. Not. Two days earlier, a crewmember carrying a sharp-edged tray had accidentally slashed my wife’s arm badly when he bumped into her in the breakfast queue. And, as we approached our homeport, all power failed and the ship narrowly missed drifting into concrete bridge pylons. In 40-plus cruises over more than 35 years before and after that forgettable holiday, my wife and I in recent years have stepped up into the heady world of ultra luxury cruising –- a field that, despite the eye-watering cost, doesn’t always live up to its publicity. Until we joined the Seabourn Ovation on March 2, 2019 for a 14-night cruise from Hong Kong to Singapore. Our wallet took a AUD21,000 (USD15,000) hit, but for the first time on this new (launched in May 2O18) absolutely beautiful mid-sized 600- passenger all-suite ship, it was worth every dollar. Nothing is perfect, so give or take a couple of petty whinges (no self-serve steamed rice and very average congee (Asian soup) while sailing in Southeast Asia, and a frosty reception in The Grill restaurant) Seabourn Ovation went as close as ever we expect to get. As sometimes jaded, increasingly grumpy and always critical travellers, it was a joy for us to start our cruise by first running an eagle eye over suite 726 on our arrival Yes, you can assume that boarding was faultless. Not one photographer on the gangway, or anywhere for the entire cruise. These days we notice things that niggle experienced cruisers on: A wall safe comfortably at chest height (it beats sitting on the floor) in a spacious walk-in robe with three dozen clothes hangers. Plenty of mirrors, a seriously cold fridge stacked with soft drinks, beer and a real bottle of champagne; plus a list of ‘complimentary’ (paid for in the fare) good quality wines. If you can’t find anything to satisfy your taste buds from Chile, California, Australia, Spain or Italy, there’s a lonely bottle of Petrus 1995 Pomeroz Grand vin from Bordeaux waiting for you in the glass-walled wine rack in the elegant main dining room ‘The Restaurant’ for USD4,500.00 (AUD6,348.00). The label is a bit scruffy so maybe the Sommelier might do a deal. In our suite there’s a lounge long enough for a rack-stretched basketballer or a third guest, a generous, glass-topped round table for 24-hour room-service-with-a-flourish (starched linen and folded napkins) and a king-size bed with a choice of six pillows soft, firm, extra firm. The TV set is on a trolley for manoeuvrability and there are plenty of movies on demand. In-suite announcements from the bridge are restricted to an average two a day -- weather and brief entertainment updates, or shore excursion boarding. No electrical engineering degree is required to operate the lights. Just click and press for a range of illumination levels from dimmed romantic to the blinding glare in the interview/confession room down at my local police station. One of Seabourn Ovation’s most remarkable (unique?) assets is its ubiquitous South African Cruise Director Andre Potgieter who recently received the prestigious President’s Award for Leadership from Seabourn Cruise Line president Rick Meadows. Andre, a softy spoken, articulate young man, emerges like a breath of spring each day in a different tailored jacket and slacks and a new spectacular bow tie with matching pocket-handkerchief. Wherever he goes, goggle-eye grandmothers swamp him with cheek kisses and embarrassing hugs. Which probably explains why, when the ship is in port, Andre trains for his favourite sport, marathon running. Of the 575 passengers from 27 nationalities on board -- average age around 60 -- there were 266 from the U.S, 112 the U.K, 46 Autralians, 34 Canadians and 33 Germans. In two weeks they demolished 2,272 bottles of red wine, 1,435 white and 633 bottles of champagne. And although there were no children on board, 390 litres of ice cream. A total of 32,826 breadsticks mopped up 21lbs of caviar. Two popular spots on the ship are the Observation Bar on the deck 11 which features high tea for an hour from 4pm then a friendly circular bar open until midnight; and The Retreat on the top deck (12) an exclusive enclave with 15 private cabanas, lavish amenities and an oversized whirlpool spa. Evening entertainment in the Grand Salon, often starring one of the slickest teams of ships’ dancers and vocalists we have seen on a cruise ship and backed by Seabourn Ovation’s highly professional orchestra, featured a range of top-class acts from a comedian and to an opera singer. A tip: For an unobstructed view, find a seat away from the intrusive supporting pillars. A shore excursion with a difference on Seabourn’s Asian itineraries is the idyllic day spent on the company’s picture-postcard tree-fringed private beach, ‘The Den’ on the exclusive Thai island of Kood. On a clear sunny day more than 400 souls disembarked from Seabourn Ovation tenders to discover rows of deck chairs under shade trees, a feast of lobster, steaks and salads, champagne on ice and a full bar. All of this ferried ashore from daybreak and served by the ship’s crew and a group of local Thais. With only a few days left and most passengers staying on board for the cruise to Dubai, we were wondering whether they still threw stowaways in the brig. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Here is our review of the recent 14 day Hong Kong to Hong Kong segment of the QM2 World Voyage from 19 February to 5th March 2019, plus pre and post cruise information. As background we are in our 50s and 60s, my husband has been ... Read More
Here is our review of the recent 14 day Hong Kong to Hong Kong segment of the QM2 World Voyage from 19 February to 5th March 2019, plus pre and post cruise information. As background we are in our 50s and 60s, my husband has been retired for a year, we are originally from the UK and have lived in Maryland USA for the past 30 years. We have predominantly cruised on Celebrity, but recently have become a bit jaded with them and have started to try out other cruise lines, including Azamara and Oceania, to see if we can find one that’s a “better fit”. So, why pick this cruise? My husband lived in Hong Kong as a child and had wanted to visit again. I wanted to cruise the QM2 for a second time. Cathay Pacific introduced a new 16 hour non-stop flight from Washington DC to Hong Kong (as opposed to 24 hours via anywhere else), and February 17th 2019 would be our 30th wedding anniversary. It seemed like the stars had aligned for us and this trip would be the perfect way to celebrate! How was that non-stop flight? We flew out of Washington Dulles to Hong Kong at 00:15am on the 15th, and I had hoped to get some sleep on board. We had booked Cathay Pacific’s Premium Economy, and enjoyed the hot towel and champagne welcome and the expedited meal service, (served with real cutlery!). The premium seat had a decent recline, a large pillow and nice thick blanket, but I still only managed about an hours sleep. Ugh. I did get to read a lot and watch 3 movies though, and we did arrive about 45 minutes early which was a bonus. The plane took a route north over the USA and Canada, over the pole and down through Russia, Mongolia and China. A 15 hour non-stop flight really takes its toll though, and I was super grumpy when we arrived. How was the hotel? We had booked a harbour view room at the Royal Pacific Hotel, (part of the Sino Hotels chain) in Kowloon for 4 nights, and as our flight was due in at 5am, we reserved the room from the previous night and advised them of our very late arrival, so we could get to bed straight away. We had also asked for hypoallergenic bedding as I am allergic to feathers. Everything was prepared as requested, but grumpy me thought the room looked seedy, and after fighting and losing with the nespresso machine, tripping over the step in the bathroom and giving up on getting the shower to work, I went to bed. What a difference a few hours sleep makes! I woke up, pulled back the curtains to find an amazing view over the harbour to Hong Kong Island and The Peak, and then discovered a huge bathtub as well as a separate shower in the bathroom, and a kettle in the cupboard. Hooray! What did you get up to in Hong Kong? Saturday was sunny and warm so we had lunch at the Satay Inn in the hotel, and then walked through several shopping malls to the Star Ferry, crossed to Hong Kong, took a taxi to The Peak and walked back down to the ferry via the University where my husbands father worked as registrar in the 1960s, and Robinson Road where my husband lived in his teens. The apartment block is still there, but dwarfed by the surrounding tower blocks, and the harbour view has gone. 15,000 steps later we had a quick dinner in the hotel, had a glass of wine in bed and watched the laser light show on the harbour through the window and had an early night. Sunday 17th was our wedding anniversary, and also the Hong Kong Marathon and everywhere was crowded and chaotic and frustrating, so we celebrated with a sulk and a light lunch at the Mandarin Oriental and a relaxing Shanghainese dinner with fizz at Ye Shanghai. The weather took a turn for the worse during the afternoon and we had booked a tour to the Giant Buddha on Lantau Island on Monday. The forecast was for rain and thunderstorms, so we called and rescheduled the tour for post cruise. Monday we were lazy, bought a few supplies (wine!) for the cruise, and decided on a light dinner at the hotel bar. So far the hotel clientele had been predominantly asian, but tonight the bar was full of english people. We walked in and were met with a chorus of “I bet you are going on the QM2 tomorrow”. It seems that the Royal Pacific Hotel was one that Cunard uses for its customers on fly cruise holidays. We chatted with a few soon-to-be fellow passengers, and bizarrely never bumped into any of them again once on board! Boarding Day! How did that go? We had originally booked a guarantee BV sheltered verandah cabin with late seating, and when we got our cabin assignment about 5 week before sailing, we had been upgraded to a BU cabin, midships, deck 6, with a 2:30pm boarding time. Two weeks before the cruise we got another upgrade notice, this time to a BA cabin, Britannia Club deck 12, 1pm boarding. What a nice surprise! The morning of the cruise we checked out of the hotel and took a taxi to the Kai Tak cruise terminal. When I first flew to Hong Kong over 30 years ago, planes landed at Kai Tak airport. It was a scary place to land as final approach was a steep plunge down through the skyscrapers, and if you survived that there was always the chance of ending up in the harbour if the pilots didn’t brake fast enough! Kai Tak airport closed a few years ago and the old airport runway has been turned into a cruise terminal. We dropped our bags and entered the terminal where we were given boarding number 7. We waited and waited, well past 1pm and 2 pm. Boarding groups A, B, C, D were called, then finally they started on numbers. Eventually we got on board around 3pm. I was frazzled. I like to get on board early and get organised. We dropped our bags in the cabin and went to the buffet. There was hardly any food, and what there was looked old and dried up. Not a good start. We did muster drill, unpacked and then headed up on deck for sailaway. There was a Caribbean band playing reggae music, drones flying after us, a lovely sunset and skyscrapers slowly lighting up. Probably one of the best sailaways I’ve ever experienced! How was your Britannia Club Cabin? First of all our cabin was about as far as it could possibly be from the Britannia Club dining room, apart from the Club cabins on deck 13! We got plenty of exercise walking to and from meals! Our cabin was configured with a king size bed, and prepared with hypoallergenic bedding. The bathroom was a decent size and the water pressure in the shower was good. The toiletries were nice. We found two bottles of sparkling wine in the cabin, along with canapes which were a gift from our travel agent. Our tour tickets were waiting for us along with our dining table assignment. Our cabin steward, Chris, kept the cabin clean, changing out the towels and emptying the trash twice a day. How was the Britannia Club restaurant? We enjoyed our time in the Britannia Club restaurant, and were seated at a table for 2 in a row of 4 tables for 2, so effectively a table for 8, as there was less than a foot between each table. Our waiter explained the dinner menu with the selections that changed daily at the front and the a la carte always available items listed in the back. He explained how everything was prepared “a la minute” in Britannia Club, (I think he was fibbing about that), and that if you wanted the a la carte duck you needed to order it the day before. I like eating fish and enjoyed many of their smoked salmon appetisers, and salads. I am not sure that the main course fish dishes were prepared “a la minute”, especially if we went to dinner at 8:30, as the fish seemed dried out, as if it had been hanging around under a heat lamp, or had been grabbed from the main Britannia galley. It was also difficult to get a steak cooked medium. One thing I did notice was that after bringing a course and wielding his pepper grinder, the waiter never came to check on whether the dish was OK. On the whole the food was pretty good. I only had one dud meal, a chicken and corn consomme that was actually more like a very heavily salted thick corn chowder. I couldn’t eat more than a couple of spoonfuls of that. The waiter never enquired as to why I hadn’t eaten it, nor did he offer to bring me something different. That same night I ordered a filet mignon medium. It arrived beyond well done, and was tough and gristly. My husband ate it as he didn’t want me to complain, and I enjoyed part of his chicken tikka masala. The fact that one disappointing meal stands out, is probably a sign that overall the food was really good! Desserts weren’t outstanding, but I loved the variety and quality of the cheeses offered on the cheese trolley. Wine service in the restaurant was OK, although initially the pouring was slow. I did notice that other people tended to only have one glass of wine a night and made a bottle last 2 or 3 nights whereas we prefer to enjoy the entire bottle in one sitting. Once the sommelier realised this, he was very attentive at keeping us topped up! We particularly enjoyed the french rose that came in a shapely bottle, and a very reasonably priced Cava. So that’s dinner taken care of, how about your other meals? We had a couple of breakfasts in Britannia Club, and appreciated it being available on disembarkation morning. However the poached eggs were cold both times I ordered them, and they didn’t have chocolate croissants either time we ate there, so not a great experience. Room service was a better breakfast option, especially as they had an excellent scrambled eggs and smoked salmon which always arrived piping hot, and they had chocolate croissants :) We did enjoy lunches in Britannia Club as it was quiet and relaxing. There was a fish curry for lunch one day that was a real standout dish. After the boarding day lunch we never ventured back into the Kings Court buffet. The Corinthia lounge was a nice place for a specialty coffee and a bite to eat. Breakfast offerings were quite eclectic, ranging from fresh fruit bowls to yoghurt parfaits, from breakfast burritos to shiitake mushroom and scrambled egg croissants, and (my favourite!) quails eggs over peppers, chorizo and potatoes. They offered nice salads for lunch too. Another favourite lunch spot was The Golden Lion Pub. We had excellent fish and chips, cottage pie and bangers and mash there. Another nice coffee spot was Sir Samuels, the Godiva Chocolate cafe. Lots of lovely chocolatey treats there, that we enjoyed looking at but never were hungry enough to sample! What was the bar scene like? I am used to cruising with drinks included, but the drinks package offered by Cunard was an eye-popping $69.99 per person per day, and required both people in the cabin to have the same package, plus there was an $11 price limit on things that were included. It didn’t seem worth it so we opted for paying as we went, and probably ended up spending under $100 dollars a day, including a bottle of wine with dinner, Perrier, tea and coffee, and pre and post dinner drinks. I thought the individual drink prices were quite reasonable. We enjoyed pre and post dinner drinks in the Chart Room. They often had either a harpist, string trio or jazz combo playing there. We tried the Commodore Club one night and while we enjoyed listening to the pianist we found the venue dark and claustrophobic. The Golden Lion also had a really good guitarist in the early evening, and in the late evening he performed as part of a pop duo. I was really impressed with the quality of the live music on board the ship. How did you keep busy on sea days? We felt that Cunard excelled in the quality and variety of activities they offered during the day, compared to other cruise lines we have sailed on. Usually we find very little to interest us so bring books and puzzles to keep ourselves busy. On this cruise we were spoilt for choice for things to do. We enjoyed the talks about QE2, Titanic, The Royal Yacht Britannia, The Apollo Space Programme, The History of Japan, and the music masterclasses on Pink Floyd and Peter Green. We missed the talks on China, the QM2, the talks from the sports commentator Henry Blofeld and the masterclasses on Jimi Hendrix, The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac. We never got chance to go to the cooking demonstrations as we were so busy. Chinese language, calligraphy, painting and craft classes were also offered, along with dancing lessons and bridge lessons! Trivia was also a favourite activity, offered 3 or 4 times a day in varying formats and taken very seriously by some passengers. We actually won “Name That Tune 1980’s”, and the prize bottle of white wine was very drinkable! What’s the deal with the dress code? We had 4 “gala” nights (including Black and White, Night in the Orient and Madam Butterfly Balls), where the dress code was tuxedo or dark suit and tie for gentlemen and gown or cocktail dress for ladies, with the remaining evenings designated “smart attire”, jacket but no tie for gentlemen and cocktail dress or pant suit for ladies. My husband fell foul of what we jokingly called the “6pm jeans curfew” one night when he lost track of the time and tried to order a drink in the Chart Room at 6:15pm in polo shirt and chinos. The waiter, who had served us many times discretely came up and asked him if he would be “popping up to his cabin to put on his jacket on”. My husband looked confused, and the waiter added “It’s 6:15 sir, you need to be properly dressed if you are going to have a drink here”. I loved dressing up as I don’t get the chance to at home, my husband not so much, but he went along with it! Any passengers who didn’t want to dress for the evening had the option of dinner in the buffet, and then drinks and entertainment in either the Corinthia Lounge or the Golden Lion Pub, and boogieing the night away in the nightclub, G20. What about the ports? There were six port days on this cruise, with Shanghai and Beijing being the highlights. Both cities were quite a drive from where the ship docked. Usually we book private tours, but we struggled to find fellow passengers on the roll calls to share with, so we ended up with Cunard tours instead. All the visas were taken care of for us by the cruiseline. We noticed that as well as having guides, Cunard tours also have a crew member, (pianist, dance escort and bridge teacher), acting as an escort on their tours. They monitor things, make notes of any problems, and bring up the rear and double check everyone is back on the bus! How was Shanghai? In Shanghai we took one day tours. The first was Best of Shanghai, and the second Shanghai Old and New. The Chinese authorities took longer than expected to clear the ship in Shanghai so our Best of Shanghai tour started and ended late and the order of the sites had to be reorganised as the lunch was at a fixed time. We started with an hour in the Shanghai Museum, then had lunch in the function room on the top floor of the Shanghai Theatre. The Chinese meal, served family style, was really well organised and the food was fresh and tasty. In the afternoon we visited the temple of the two Jade Buddhas, the Yu Gardens and the bazaar, and ended with a stroll on the modern side of The Bund. Day 2 we were surprised to see we had the same guide as the day before! He was very concerned that we would be revisiting a couple of places from the day before, but we didn’t care. We started with a ride to the top of the Shanghai Centre, (the tallest building in China and the second tallest in the world), in the worlds fastest elevator! The view from the top was incredible! Next we walked around the french part of The Bund, had a dim sum lunch (again delicious and well organised by Cunard), visited the Yu Gardens and the bazaar again and ended with a walking tour along the old side of the Bund. Shanghai is a really vibrant city, full of energy and very forward looking. The weather both days was overcast and smoggy and over 200 on the air quality scale which was really unhealthy. What did you do in Beijing? We booked ourselves on Cunards Beijing 2 Day Discovery tour, along with 500 of our closest cruisemates! It was a very popular tour! We started with a 3 hour drive to Beijing, followed by a 20 minute ride in a trishaw. It was a cold day and whizzing round in an open vehicle was absolutely freezing. We noticed that people not on a tour had a leisurely ride wheras tour people were driven at breakneck speed. Our driver probably did the circuit in 10 minutes, jammed his brakes on and said “out!”. We had lunch at a restaurant in a jade shop near the Great Wall, and then visited the wall itself. Wow! What a fantastic sight! I got halfway up the steps, looked back and thought “OMG if I don’t turn round now I’ll never get back down”. The steps were a foot high in places and very uneven, and not for people with vertigo. My husband got all the way up onto the wall and walked past three guardhouses until he was finally able to get a photo with no one else in it! Our overnight accommodation was at the China World Shangri-La Hotel and it was awesome! So awesome in fact, that we decided to forego that evening’s Peking Duck Banquet in favour of a nap, a few drinks and a light meal in the hotel lobby, a long soak in the fabulous hotel bath and an early night! We also took an executive decision to not bother with the 5:30am buffet breakfast, and enjoyed an extra hour in bed, ate the apples we found in our room, and headed downstairs for our 7am start, raring to go! There was a fair bit of whingeing and moaning on the bus about how people only got 5 hours sleep, about how disappointing the food at the banquet was, and how exhausted they were! Glad we passed on that! Day 2 in Beijing had us at Tiananmen Square by 7:30 and The Forbidden City by 8:30. We loved the guided tour of the Forbidden City and were surprised at how big the complex was. We had an early lunch banquet and then took a 40 minute Bullet Train ride to Tianjin. It got up to 215 mph, and was really quiet and smooth. Very impressive! The ship was scheduled to depart at 5pm, but 6pm came and went and at 7 they started calling certain passenger names and asking them to see the purser. We were still in port at 8pm and the Captain announced that there were problems with the Chinese authorities and some of the special tourist visas the ship had obtained for us. By the time the issues were resolved, and a slot in the river traffic had been assigned to us, we finally left around 11pm, six hours late. Next stop Kitakyushu. Where on earth is that? It is on Japan’s Kyushu Island, and it was a maiden port for QM2. We docked in a container port, where a makeshift passenger terminal had been created out of tents for us. We arrived to an incredibly warm welcome, crowds cheering and waving, and brass bands playing. I heard there were fire boats streaming plumes of red, white and blue water as QM2 entered the port! Because of the delay leaving China, and despite making up some time, we finally arrived at 11am instead of 8am, so the tours started later and the itineraries were rearranged. We had booked Best of Kitakyushu, and our first stop was at a local hotel for lunch. We were each presented with a Bento Box with lots of tiny portions of exquisitely flavoured food. It was delicious and a nice change of pace to the Chinese banquets. 

I am not a fan of public loos, but I made an exception here and went to check out the Japanese toilets I’d heard about. These didn’t disappoint and although I did like the heated seat I wimped out of pressing any of the other buttons! Compared to Shanghai and Beijing, there wasn’t a lot to do in Kitakyushu. We visited a museum with a very good robotic dinosaur exhibit, looked at the outside of Kokura Castle, which was closed for renovations, went up the Mojiko Retro Town Observation Tower and a wander around the town.

The locals treated us to a fantastic firework display as we left port. Did you go anywhere else? Yes, our final port was Seogwipo City, on Jeju Island, South Korea. Another new country for me and another maiden port for QM2. We were the first cruise ship to dock at their brand new cruise terminal. We were greeted with music, K Pop bands, speeches and free packs of facemasks, (as in skin care!) for everyone! Todays tour was Seogwipo City Highlights, our bus had disco lights in it, and our guide introduced himself and told us not to look out of the windows. Huh? It turns out that the new cruise terminal and nearby naval base had been a bone of contention for some of the locals, and along with “Welcome QM2” banners, there were some not so welcoming ones that he hadn’t wanted us to see. We walked over the longest pedestrian bridge on Jeju Island, and did a brief walk around Saeseom Island and then over to Cheonjiyeon Falls. Our final stop was to a local food market, which I always find fascinating. How was disembarkation? It was surprisingly easy! Immigration was all done behind the scenes for us by Hong Kong officials who boarded the ship in South Korea. We picked up our passports on the last evening and our Hong Kong visas were already inside. We put our cases out late on the last night, reusing the tags we used for boarding. We had to be out of our stateroom by 8:30am, so had a quick breakfast in Britannia Club, and then headed up to the Carinthia Lounge, where we were scheduled for a 9am departure. Our number was called at 8:50am. Disembarkation was quick, we found our bags, cleared customs and waited about 10 minutes for a taxi. Couldn’t have been better. We checked into the Royal Pacific Hotel again, and after a walk around the shopping centres next door to kill time, managed to be in our room by noon. Hong Kong Part 2, how was that? The miserable weather that had followed us for most of the cruise continued in Hong Kong. It varied from fog to drizzle to torrential rain and put a bit of a downer on our post cruise plans. Our rescheduled tour to Lantau Island and the Giant Buddha took place in awful weather. We visited a beach in the rain. Had a tour of a market and a river boat ride in a thunderstorm and torrential rain. The skies briefly cleared when we visited the Buddha, and then the fog descended for the rest of the day. We visited the Po Lin Monastery for lunch and their vegetarian banquet was fantastic, probably the best “included lunch” we had on any of our tours. Sightseeing was really not possible so our Plan B inevitably was food! Highlights included Jimmy’s Kitchen for a “ Classic British Food From The 1970s” fix, the Pho Boozer for a ridiculously cheap 3 course lunch in either Indian, Malay, Thai or Vietnamese style and Bombay Dreams, with its Michelin Star winning Indian lunch buffet. Our “last hurrah” was at the Intercontinental Hotel, Kowloon, where we went for drinks in their bar overlooking Hong Kong harbour and had front row seats for the 8pm laser light show, which was spectacular. It was pouring with rain so we abandoned plans to find a restaurant for dinner and splurged on a selection of fabulous asian tapas right where we were. How was your journey home? We arranged for late checkout at 1:30pm and used the hotel limo service to the airport as we couldn’t face dragging our bags out in the rain and trying to get a taxi. It was money well spent. We weren’t expecting to find a hotel employee waiting at the curb for us when we arrived at the airport. He took care of our bags and fast tracked us to the Cathay check in desks, oversaw the check in procedure for us and directed us to immigration. He wouldn’t take a tip and said it was all part of the hotel service. What a nice surprise. All flights to the USA have extra security, and we were screened at the gate and again just before we boarded the plane. Our 16 hour flight was scheduled to leave at 5:30pm Hong Kong time and arrive in Washington DC at 8:30pm the same day. I planned to try and get a little sleep mid flight. The meal and drink service was more leisurely flying back. I had an excellent steak for dinner, 3 glasses of wine and watched a couple of movies before sleeping, amazingly, for 6 hours! They served beef sliders about 10 hours into the journey and then, bizarrely, breakfast a couple of hours before we landed in Washington in the evening. The omelet was really good. This time the flightpath skirted China, Japan and Russia, entering the USA over Washington state, then heading east, and we arrived a few minutes early into Washington Dulles. For once the Global Entry machines were empty, and they didn’t reject our passports, so we whizzed through immigration. We had a bit of a wait for our bags, and finally got a Washington Flyer taxi around 9pm and were home by 10pm. We were absolutely shattered. Is it good to be home? Yes! Absolutely! But wow, what an epic trip! I would definitely fly Cathay Pacific again, and I think we have found our new cruise home with Cunard. I can’t wait to sail on Queen Mary 2 again and look forward to trying out Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth too! Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We started as a cruise of a lifetime and ended as a demotivated disaster. This once great international liner is now a British floating holiday park, There is a ghost like senior management team only ever to be seen fraternising ... Read More
We started as a cruise of a lifetime and ended as a demotivated disaster. This once great international liner is now a British floating holiday park, There is a ghost like senior management team only ever to be seen fraternising with Grills guests and drinking wine. With the distinct exception of Captain Wells who seems now to do the job of Cruise Director and Hotel Manager as well as his own. In 34 Nights I only saw 4 Shows and 2 bumpers involving the singers and dancers. The rest of the evenings were guest entertainers of which only 3 were of a standard expected of QM2 ,the rest were not even suitable for my local village hall. I suppose not surprising as the whole feel of the entertainment was that of a holiday park. Who is booking this holiday park drivvle. No entertainment outside the sailaway party was more of a wake than a party with the so called band finishing their set before the ship had gone anywhere. The cruise staff who were not even upto holiday park standard spent most of their time chatting to each other and photographers rather than guests.Once again no senior management to be seen ALL SAID THIS IS THE WORST CRUISE I HAVE EVER BEEN ON. This once great elegant liner is now Haven holidays at sea. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Chose this cruise for its itinerary as it was going to all the places we had not visited before. The new refurbished ship looks good and from recent reviews it was overdue for the upgrade. We had just come off the Celebrity Solstice and ... Read More
Chose this cruise for its itinerary as it was going to all the places we had not visited before. The new refurbished ship looks good and from recent reviews it was overdue for the upgrade. We had just come off the Celebrity Solstice and flew into Hong Kong to pick up this Ship. You can see the difference between a Solstice class and a Millenium class but all in all the Celebrity Millennium is very good. The Captain Alex is brilliant with his great sense of humour. The food in the restaurant was not as good as the Solstice even though the menus are identical. The upstairs Buffett is very good with a good variety of food available throughout the day. The highlight I think for us, was the Ships tour to the lantern festival in Taiwan this was a great experience and we were very fortunate to be there at that particular time to participate in this beautiful event. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We have just returned from a 2 week cruise around Asia. What a beautiful ship and refurbished to a high standard. The selection of food was fantastic , breakfast times are a bit hectic with people hogging seats and not moving on once ... Read More
We have just returned from a 2 week cruise around Asia. What a beautiful ship and refurbished to a high standard. The selection of food was fantastic , breakfast times are a bit hectic with people hogging seats and not moving on once they'd finished. What can I say about the staff, a total credit to the company . Everyone was warm friendly and always there to help you in any way . We had the most beautiful sole serve us every night in the Cafe al Baco bar , Hannah . What a gorgeous person who made us feel so welcome from the first day , thank you Hannah . We would also like to thank Annabelle who kept our cabin lovely at all times and was very king on the days I didn't feel well, thank you Annabelle . Our only grip would be the entertainment , if you liked an act you had to follow them around the ship to watch them , not much choose for the younger cruisers Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We wanted to cruise southeast Asia and this ship has several big pros, ship updated, great itinerary, good value and BLU. If you are a foodie who wants a small ship dining experience Blu is excellent, made all the difference for us and ... Read More
We wanted to cruise southeast Asia and this ship has several big pros, ship updated, great itinerary, good value and BLU. If you are a foodie who wants a small ship dining experience Blu is excellent, made all the difference for us and we would never cruise Celebrity without it. You need to upgrade to aqua class but well worth it. Both service, food and ambience are much better. Unfortunately, the upgrades to the ship caused some issues, our shower leaked onto the bathroom floor for the entire cruise, Celebrity tried to fix but not 100%. New decor was generally good and made the cabin space bigger. Crew on the ship was very good, especially Sebastian in Blu and our cabin attendant Narish. Cruise director was so so. If you’re focus is to see Thailand this isn’t the right cruise, terminal was 2.5 hours from Bangkok, nearer Pattaya which is a dump. But the rest is very good. Hong Kong and Singapore are excellent and docks close to town. Celebrity has decided to make playing Bridge difficult for some unknown reason. So visit forums to find players and bring your own bidding boxes and cards. We had a lot of sea days and thankfully found bridge partners, without any help from Celebrity. Lastly bring your cold flu remedies as these long haul winter cruises tend to have illnesses onboard. Celebrity does what they can to sanitize but I will stay clear of the buffet in the future. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019

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