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6 Southampton to Asia Cruise Reviews

We boarded the Holland America cruise ship Rotterdam in the UK for a 55-day voyage to Indonesia, via Portugal, Morocco, Spain, Malta, Greece, Egypt ,Oman, UAE, India, Burma, Thailand, Indonesia finally getting off in Singapore. We passed ... Read More
We boarded the Holland America cruise ship Rotterdam in the UK for a 55-day voyage to Indonesia, via Portugal, Morocco, Spain, Malta, Greece, Egypt ,Oman, UAE, India, Burma, Thailand, Indonesia finally getting off in Singapore. We passed through the Suez Canal at night due to the dredging of the Canal during the day. We were escorted by an armed military patrol through the pirate infested sea of the Gulf of Aden. We were once on the Rotterdam sailing through three continents, South America, Africa and Europe. Tri Wiyono the dining room manager remembered us from our trip and we were quite happy to see him again. He had been at sea for 48 years on board at least 15 HAL vessels including the old Rotterdam. He was on 11 world cruises and 5 continents. His wife, son and daughter live in Jakarta. The ship is 59,000 tons, has 600 crew members, and a 1404 passenger capacity. She is a healthy ship due to the cooperation of the passengers and the ships’ personnel. Despite the length of the voyage not a single case of Norovirus infection occurred. The passengers on board in England were 330 British, 245 Americans, 199 Canadians, 193 Dutch, 40 Australians and at least 34 Germans. Most were senior citizens, seasoned travelers and repeaters. The main dining room located on two decks seats 678 persons. The lower for open and the upper for fixed seating. Much to the delight of the guests the wait staff is encouraged by Tri and Budi his assistant manager to interact with the passengers. The staff who come mainly from Indonesia learn the names of their guests and food preferences. They do an excellent job. The ship’s galley is manned by pastry makers, cooks, and bakers, from the Philippines. They also handle the beverage section, security and the front office. Beef rib eye steak, escargot, pheasant, Peking duck, Indonesian and Filipino food were on the menu. Salmon and shrimp cocktail were always on hand. The Lido a buffet cafeteria for casual dining offers made to order stir fry oriental dishes and quite popular judging from the long lines. Pizza hot dog, hamburger, Mexican and Indian food are available at the pool area. Ice cream and desserts are available daily. The ship’s library has at least 2000 volumes with English and foreign titles. It is opened daily until 10 PM by Leticia from Romania, the full time librarian. Internet costs 75 cents per minute printing not included. Because it relied on satellite, the reception at sea is usually erratic at best. Travelers with laptops,iPad and kindles make a beeline for free Wi-Fi when in port. Father Lou a retired Catholic priest from Grand Rapids, Michigan conducts mass daily. He also participated in interfaith services on Sundays. He is easily approachable and knows most of the passengers by name. The ship provides church supplies. Our room had a good view of the ocean, at least 180 square feet with ample closet space. A small flat screen TV provide us with ship’s location and time. Rashid and Puto our room stewards from Indonesia were quick and responsive. They had our cabin ready by the time we return from breakfast. The public areas were squeaky clean, the glass and brass of the Rotterdam glisten. Most of the required visas were obtainable from the ship except for India. India compels contact only through private parties designated by them, a great inconvenience for travelers by a country trying to promote tourism. The agents charge high prices for their services. Oman reminded us of Istanbul, Turkey. The shops were similar to the grand bazaar, prices were reasonable, and easily accessible from the port area on free shuttle buses. Burma, now known as Myanmar have an abundance of Hindu temples. They are enormous and magnificent. Sarongs are and bare feet are required to enter. We reached Phuket, Thailand after a day at sea. We took advantage of the Thai silk that were reasonably priced. We finally reached Indonesia our first time and eagerly toured Jakarta, Java, Lombok , Sulawasi, and Bali. We rented a car with a driver who spoke fluent English. He took us where artisans practiced their skills of wood, stone carving, painting, batik making, gold and silver-smiting and a major Hindu temple. We had lunch at a restaurant in the middle of green rice fields. They served us an Indonesian lunch on a banana leaf covered tray with rice, crab, shrimp and other seafood. The bill came to $25 for 4 people, soft drinks included. We spent the rest of the day in a batik factory learning the intricacies of its manufacture. The ship presented a professional troupe of Balinese dancers accompanied by their native orchestra on the queen show lounge stage. Bali is the primary destination of tourists because of its beautiful surroundings and the ease of getting there. There are direct flights from Australia and China. The cruise port in Dempasar, Bali has free Wi-Fi that is accessible from the ship. Another cruise center is being planned to provide a port for more cruise ships. The Rotterdam invited families and relatives of the staff to visit the ship while in Indonesia. We were greatly impressed by this beautiful gesture of Holland America Line. We consider meeting the families of the staff a great privilege. Philreamon 2015 Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
PORTS: London-Lisbon-Malaga-Tunis-Malta-Naphlion-Athens-Suez Canal-Safafa-Dubai (2 days)-Abu Dahbi-Goa-Mangalore-Cochin-Port Blair-Langkawi-Kuala Lumpur-Singapore-(Indoneisa) Jakarta-Semerang-Bali (2 ... Read More
PORTS: London-Lisbon-Malaga-Tunis-Malta-Naphlion-Athens-Suez Canal-Safafa-Dubai (2 days)-Abu Dahbi-Goa-Mangalore-Cochin-Port Blair-Langkawi-Kuala Lumpur-Singapore-(Indoneisa) Jakarta-Semerang-Bali (2 days)-Lombok-Komodo-Makassar-Probolingo-Surabaya (Indonesia)-Singapore ITINERARY: 50 wonderful days from Jan-March 2013 sailing from Southhampton, England to Singapore via the Suez Canal with two incredible weeks working our way across just some of the islands of Indonesia - only 6 of the fabled 17,000 islands of this important SE Asian country. This was also home to many of the ship's crew members, whose families joyously were waiting to greet them at the dock. Holland America and the Rotterdam were up to their well-regarded standards from top to bottom and played gracious host to the crew's family members who were invited on board for tours and refreshments. FELLOW PASSENGERS: Cruise Director Glenn was one of the best and along with the rest of the staff easily handled the bi-lingual demands since this cruise carried a very large Dutch-speaking contingent, which the entire staff handled with style, charm and easy humor. We first moved through history of all the major Western civilizations from Portugal, Spain, Carthage, Roman Empire, Greece and Egypt. And then on to the newer global powers of the UAE, India, Malaysia, Singapore and finally got to see both the new and old worlds of fabulous Indonesia. DINING: The ship was in beautiful shape, the food wonderful and dining settings varied for any tastes. The specialty restaurant The Pinnacle provided a very elegant setting also serving specialty night menus from Michelin rated Liberije (sp?) in Holland and Le Cirque in New York. The standard Pinnacle menus for both lunch and dinner were superb. Try them at both times for sure. Sea days breakfast, lunch and tea in the lovely, tall glass windowed main dining room was always a welcomed treat because you can see the waves passing by while you dine, allowing one to really have the sense of being on a ship. The main dining room sparkled elegantly at night with white linens and silver dinner service, but darkness kept those wonderful full window views more obscured during those evening hours in this part of the world. The specialty afternoon teas should not be missed, esp. the Indonesian and Royal Dutch ones. The Lido, Grill and Slice additionally offered a wide variety of foods for all tastes if a more casual setting was desired - with the option of indoor, poolside or outdoor dining, Along with many specialty buffets like crab feasts, Indonesian, Asian, and German sausage tests -- all very good. Wonderful array of cheeses, along with their signature desserts, good ice cream, chocolate chip cookies and the splendid little meringues. ENRICHMENT-SHORE EXCURSIONS: Enrichment lecture speakers were good to excellent and all topical for the areas we were visiting. The only major hassle was Indian immigration which was counter-productive and inefficient. Their constantly changing demands with each Indian port kept the staff up all night meeting trying to get us onshore on time. Staff was brilliant trying to respond to this. Indian regulations and their over-kill make-work officials at each were petty and annoying serving little purpose. India needs to pay attention to this tourist turn-off in the future if they want people to jump through more and more hoops just to enter their country - and enjoy it and spend our money there locally. Shore excursions offered by the ship were all excellent and well worth the prices since we were often in ports that were not used frequently by cruise ships, local traffic was intense, tourism services few to non-existent, and lots of space to cover to get the best feel for the new areas we were visiting. PIRATE PRECAUTIONS: Yes, we did go through pirate precautions that are now standard for all cruises in this Upper Indian/Ocean Red Sea area. In fact, they were less stringent than we experienced on two other cruise lines for this same area. Since this comes with the territory, there should of been no surprises to anyone choosing to travel in this continually unstable area. Can't imagine why any passenger would want to put the ship at risk ignoring these appropriate precautions. No complaints from us. Know before you go. This is not an optional exercise. The Suez Canal passage was just one of the many highlights of this trip. Be sure and bring binoculars and stay outside as much as you can to hear the plaintive Muslim calls to prayers during the day. SMOKING: I for one hope HAL bans smoking all together as it ruins perfectly good public areas for the rest of us with lingering tobacco smells which made the lovely Crows Nest forward viewing lounge almost unusable due to the lingering heavy smoke saturation. That room needs a thorough and deep cleaning and then ban smoking up there entirely, so the rest of the passengers can also enjoy this grand public space. INTERNET: No one expected or got full ship to shore communications traversing this part of the world either. Internet was slow and balky so best to do your emailing when ashore or in the cruise terminal where all the crew members set up their own laptops too. CABIN LOCATION: We tried a lower deck ocean view cabin (Main Deck 2) this time due to the length and price of the trip and found it spacious and accommodating, but missed our balcony. Saving money on the cabin allowed us to enjoy more shore excursions. We were close to open wrap-around walking deck on Deck 3 and found plenty of outdoor and indoor public spaces to enjoy, particularly the wonderfully stocked Rotterdam library and reading room - the Explorations Cafe. OVERALL: Holland America has a winner with this itinerary and the Rotterdam is just the lady to do this special Holland/Indonesia exploration. I hope many can take it for its full 50-90 day length in order to take this fabulous travel through both time and space as one moves from the Old World into the Newer New World - and the global future where over 3 billion people are rapidly moving in to the middle class. Yet while still preserving much of their ancient past and traditions as well. Long being a global traveller with well over 100 countries visited, I realized I had not really fully seen the world until I visited Indonesia - it is a new jewel in the crown of my own family of nations. And we found we loved 50 day cruises too! Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
The Queen Mary 2 is a fantastic liner but as a cruise ship she falls down on her accessibility to cruise terminals due to her physical size. The result of this is that tours have very long coach journeys typically 4 hours or more for the ... Read More
The Queen Mary 2 is a fantastic liner but as a cruise ship she falls down on her accessibility to cruise terminals due to her physical size. The result of this is that tours have very long coach journeys typically 4 hours or more for the return journey. Additionally the inability of the the ship to dock at Hong Kong cruise terminal meant that all disembarking passengers and their baggage were shipped separately out to the expo centre near the airport (a 40 minute ride) and dumped there by Cunard to find their own way back to town. We were only informed of this change at the last minute so pre-booked taxis were unable to be informed of the change. To add insult to injury we had purposely chosen a hotel adjacent to the cruise terminal and instead of it taking just minutes to get checked in to our hotel we were still messing about at our own expense after 2 1/2 hours. Zero out 10 for Cunard. Have you noticed that on all the questionnaires they ask about the quality of the registration process but they never get feedback on the disembarkation process. The other point about Cunard is that they do not inform the passengers of difficult or sensitive changes to the itinerary. We were on a long 38 night trip but we booked an itinerary which included a call at Koh Samui, Thailand. This was dropped from the schedule without us ever being informed. Lastly be aware that if you join a multi sector world cruise for more than one sector , the entertainment package has a considerable amount of repetition. We covered 3 sectors and by the end we were becoming very disappointed. Having said all this we enjoyed our cruise very much. The ship is beautiful. The food is great. The staff are very attentive. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
People of a certain age just know that you have to wear a duffle coat at sea if there are any ocean days involved.....so I had to congratulate the man who was wearing his as he walked the decks as the QM2 began the run through the Bay of ... Read More
People of a certain age just know that you have to wear a duffle coat at sea if there are any ocean days involved.....so I had to congratulate the man who was wearing his as he walked the decks as the QM2 began the run through the Bay of Biscay at the beginning of the 2013 World Cruise. The QM2 is the last ocean liner in the world and, as such, is not suitable for some. If you don't want to spend some of your day doing "decks"-three times round equals a mile-or want lectures or having to mentally juggle the luggage allowance if flying go on something else because it'll save you getting upset at the Cunard experience. That experience was created when sailing was a different thing to what is expected now and so you could be disappointed if you don't remember this. Yes, the Cunard is clothes. The dressing up at night is what makes it for so many which is why so many still do it with enthusiasm and obvious enjoyment. You can see the man who has been bullied into a dinner jacket reluctantly appear and then catch sight of himself, pause and suddenly James Bond is there in front of you. The gowns have gone-luggage allowance has killed them-but posh frocks are still there a plenty. Effort is made by a good 98% Yes, Cunard is lectures. The speakers are many and varied and obviously some are more accomplished than others but there are a heck of a lot of passengers who are equally varied and they all take great interest somewhere along the line. Yes, QM2 is "the decks". She's a big ship and she demands to be walked upon. Are we a load of sad old people with nothing better to do? For some senior passengers the "deck" may take all day but it is totally absolutely social. They stop every 12th chair for a sit and a talk and there is always somebody to talk to. Walking the decks is how you get to know your ship and your fellow passengers. It clears the lungs and starts the day and it is done in every weather. Yes, Cunard is a different age but many of us were either there, knew people who were or want to experience it for themselves and the QM2 is the mightiest. The Britannia dining room is said to be the finest at sea and is far superior to where the Grills passengers eat. The staff are outstanding and if ever the food isn't to your liking they will do their best to accommodate. After a really beautiful roast beef I said the Yorkshire Puddings were so magnificent they should be served with golden syrup as desert...I got them. Yes, Cunard does overcharge by the ridiculous 15% on everything. Why do they do it? Who knows but it upsets everybody and is very bad PR. It just means you drink less. Yes, the QM2 is a ship to travel on again and again if you have the right frame of mind. The excitement of food shortages, pirates (the men with strange back packs were quickly identified), extremely dull midday announcements and the thrill of Las Vegas in the desert i.e. Dubai made this another fabulous trip because it was something yet again a bit different so it was good!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
I agree with all that 'graham 100' has said about his leg to Dubai. To start with the boarding organisation in Southampton was chaotic. The cabin was very clean and tidy - we had a good steward in Peter. The TV was about a ... Read More
I agree with all that 'graham 100' has said about his leg to Dubai. To start with the boarding organisation in Southampton was chaotic. The cabin was very clean and tidy - we had a good steward in Peter. The TV was about a 15" flatscreen which was pathetically poor together with the service it gave. The ship and decor could have done with some attention but overall it was satisfactory. The food in the Main restaurant was very inconsistent ranging from good to inedible. The Belverdere had fresher food but limited choice. We have cruised on Arcadia before and the food standards were much higher. Generally speaking the restaurant service was not good - the waiters were poorly trained and rarely smiled. Their supervision was almost non-existent. The drinks were fairly priced and the bar service was good. The Captain's 'Cocktail Party' was held in the enclosed swimming pool which was highly inappropriate/too small. The free wines were awful/undrinkable and we opted for a g and t. We had a glimpse of the Captain when he said a few words which was more than some experienced. We didn't bother to subject ourselves to the second 'party'. The elusive Captain was spotted twice when most of the passengers were on excursions! His officers were also rarely seen. The excursion programme was mostly a disaster according to most we spoke to. We had two 50% refunds because the excursions were disastrous. The guy that gave the pre-excursion talks was partly to blame because his information/photos were years out of date. The coaches used in Aqaba and Egypt were old and dirty - something P&O should have checked. There were some good speakers but some should never been allowed on board. The entertainment provided was mixed with a few good acts but mostly they were ruined by poor direction/sound control. The regular group The Headliners (Headbangers)danced quite well but their singing was dreadful. P&O's cost cutting I suspect was mostly to blame for this average and disappointing cruise. P&O are not the only cruise line that is falling into the same trap probably promoted by accountants! Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
This was a wonderful cruise on a ship that we had been on twice before. This time we avoided the Brittania restaurant - which is good, but has two sittings and is too large - by booking a club balcony cabin, thus having the Brittania Club ... Read More
This was a wonderful cruise on a ship that we had been on twice before. This time we avoided the Brittania restaurant - which is good, but has two sittings and is too large - by booking a club balcony cabin, thus having the Brittania Club restaurant which was just the right size, open dining, and first class service. Our last cruise was in the Queen's Grill, and although excellent, the service we received in the Club restaurant was just as good. The reason for the Queen's Grill was an upgrade due to a golden wedding anniversary. The food was excellent with such a great choice. The cabin was fine with plenty of drawer and cupboard space and the cabin service was excellent. Only complaint was that although the towels are of good quality, the size of the bath towels leave a lot to be desired. The ship was spotlessly clean and all the staff very friendly and helpful, apart from the pursers office where one did not always get the best service. O.K they are the ones who take all the complaints, but they were on several occasions, not the nicest of folk to deal with and gave one the impression of being superior, and not there to serve the guests. Two good things came out of this cruise. You can now buy Gin or Vodka (certain brands)plus 6 cans of tonic for $25 for consumption in your cabin, and they also turn a blind eye to you taking spirits or wine on board. Think they had to do it as P & O were already doing this. The prices charged in the bars and restaurants are exhorbitant especially with the 15% service charge, so we did not use them very much. One only had to look at the tables in the Brittania restaurant in the evening to see that there were not many bottles of wine on the table. They did actually reduce the price of some of their wines when we were aboard, but they need to reduce them even more for us to buy one bottle a day. Other cruise lines do not charge as much. Only did one tour as there again they are much too expensive and as seasoned cruisers we know how to do them much more cheaply. All in all a wonderful cruise, and one will always have some complaints after such a long time. I sincerely hope to rejoin QM2 in Capetown next year for parts of the cruise that I did not do this time! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010

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