Last cruise on Celebrity Century fantastic. Stayed in the Penthouse, was spacious, luxurious, kitchen, dressing room, very large bathroom, large balcony with furniture & jacuzzi great fun and nice and cool!
So it was last sailing ... Read More
Last cruise on Celebrity Century fantastic. Stayed in the Penthouse, was spacious, luxurious, kitchen, dressing room, very large bathroom, large balcony with furniture & jacuzzi great fun and nice and cool!
So it was last sailing before being sold, shop closed yes and bars ran out of some drinks, but plenty more to choose from. You can shop anytime!!!
Lots to do every day couldn't keep up! Lots of space to sunbathe away from pool if that is what you like, which I do. Food absolutely amazing !!! Maurano restaurant delicious. Service & staff throughout the ship exceptional. Couldn't do enough, very clean. Captain George a cheeky Greek we loved, captains table amazing, made us feel very special indeed.
John & Jane entertainment organisers did a great job!
Theatre shows something for everyone...
It was Century's last cruise, cannot believe guests didn't know this before boarding!!! But it made it more special !
After reading some of these reviews of guests who were on the same cruise, you should be ashamed of yourselves.. Can't keep everyone happy though! Always get moaners!
They explained why shop had to close, but plenty enough shopping at ports!
Celebrity it was our first cruise we will definitely be booking again, just need to earn the pennies.... Penthouse worth every penny,
Thank you butler Nelson & housekeeper Frazer fir looking after us, you spoilt us!
Also Sylvia Smidt concierge Michael's lounge, professional through & through who couldn't do enough for everyone .
Good luck to all the staff on Century hopefully meet again one day x Read Less
My sister and I travelled on the 14 day final cruise on Celebrity Century from Dubai to Singapore. What a disappointment. The shops closed down a week before we arrived in Singapore. Bars ran out of alcohol. The last meals in the ... Read More
My sister and I travelled on the 14 day final cruise on Celebrity Century from Dubai to Singapore. What a disappointment. The shops closed down a week before we arrived in Singapore. Bars ran out of alcohol. The last meals in the dining room seemed to be made up of leftovers from the previous lunch. The pool was in darkness from 9pm every night. The only nights it was lit up was when we left Dubai and when we arrived in Singapore. Practically no activities. If not for the casino and bingo, we would have had nothing to do. There were three shows which were very good; the shows featuring the ship's dancers were amateurish. Casino was closed and stripped out the day before we arrived in Singapore. The lifts were being used to move furniture around, so was very difficult for elderly or disabled people. This bad review is purely aimed at the company; the crew were exceptional. The crew were friendly, polite, cheerful. I have no complaint with them at all. We were not told it would be the final cruise when we booked. If we were told that we would only have half a cruise we could have decided then whether to go or not. Read Less
We were on Century, sailing from Singapore to Dubai on March 22nd. This was originally part of the Century's farewell cruise to Europe but changed when the ship was sold to China meaning the final cruise was a return from Dubai to ... Read More
We were on Century, sailing from Singapore to Dubai on March 22nd. This was originally part of the Century's farewell cruise to Europe but changed when the ship was sold to China meaning the final cruise was a return from Dubai to Singapore after we left the ship.
We were somewhat apprehensive after reading some of the negative comments about the state of the ship, however we always keep in mind that for every negative comment there is usually significantly more positive experiences because people are quick to criticise and slow to praise an enjoyable experience. Also some people appear to spend more time looking for faults than having an enjoyable holiday!
Embarkation in Singapore was fast and efficient, we were on board with a glass of champagne in hand with very little delay.
The ship may be the oldest in the Celebrity fleet but it has been very well maintained, certainly there was no evidence of undue wear and tear.
We had a balcony cabin on Deck 8, it was smaller than we're used to but adequate and comfortable.
Food in both the Main Dining Room and the Buffet Restaurant was of the expected standard with little room for complaint, the service was generally very good, it was especially noticeable that wine arrived very quickly, unlike what we've experienced on other cruise lines where, the worst example was when our wine arrived with our desserts.
We had dinner in Murano one night and the food and service was excellent, in particular the wait staff were friendly and helpful but never intrusive as can sometimes happen.
We only went to a few shows and they ranged from an Italian tenor who was excellent to a stage show which was ordinary at best, overall in our experience pretty much standard for cruise ship entertainment.
We went on shore excursions in Cochin and Mumbai which we enjoyed even in spite of an Indian Immigration system which conspired to turn every one off visiting the country, it was petty Indian bureaucracy at it's finest!
Firstly we required a visa which isn't unusual, then on the second day out we all had to spend about an hour in the Hemisphere Lounge filling out Departure and Arrival cards plus a port card for each of the four Indian ports.
Then on arrival in Cochin we had to queue for at least an hour for a face to face interview with an Indian Immigration official before leaving the ship. This process was so tedious that the queue became a conga line that stretched over two or three decks at it's worst and saw crew moving along the queue with water and juice as they made regular announcements to try and keep us informed.
We never went ashore in Goa or New Mangalore but we did in Mumbai where being the last Indian port the process was similar to Cochin but handled in a slightly more efficient fashion.
Our only comment and also that of many we spoke to was that if India wants to increase tourism, they need to lift their game to a whole new level!
Our excursion in Cochin was pretty much the usual ho hum excursion apart from the Chinese fishing nets which were interesting but could also be seen from the comfort of the ship as we sailed in. Our guide was an Indian woman who smiled a lot and knew the date of everything that ever happened in Cochin but was pretty mediocre as a guide.
In contrast, our excursion in Mumbai was fascinating with an excellent female guide who told us only historical facts that were relevant but also had a sense of humour and made the tour extremely interesting, having a more conversational way of delivery instead of sounding like she'd swallowed a history text book
The highlights were the architecture, the Gateway to India and the Taj Mahal hotel, the Lunch Boxes and the open air laundry, Ghandis house was also an interesting insight into the past.
The next stop was Muscat in Oman which was such a contrast with India, we simply walked off the ship and onto our tour bus, the highlight of this tour was undoubtedly the Mosque which is huge and fascinating and the Souk. The guide was a young man who was very knowledgeable and interesting to listen to. One of the really nice things we found with Celebrity was that when you arrived back at the ship all hot and tired after an excursion we were met with drinks and iced towels before boarding the ship!
On the subject of shore excursions generally it looks like cruise lines pick a tour company and select from their brochure without actually sending staff on excursions to assess them. Too may excursions see us trawl through endless churches, temples and museums etc which most regular travellers have seen enough of to last a lifetime.
One of the really nice things about Century was the lack of queuing on the ship, there were always tables available in the buffet restaurant, even at peak times, we had My Time dining for dinner and were always able to get a table for two with little or no delay.
The crew were outstanding, always friendly and helpful, our Cabin Steward, Antonio from Goa looked after our every need, the lady allocating tables in the main dining room was a delight, however the highlight by far was "Ferrari Man" in the buffet restaurant, he went around with tea and coffee on his wheeled round table all decorated with Ferrari merchandise, he was always happy and never failed to make the day of anyone he came into contact with.
This was our first cruise on Celebrity with previous cruises being on either Royal Caribbean or Carnival but we thoroughly enjoyed the experience and wouldn't hesitate to cruise with them again.
After seeing the advert on TV (Planet cruise channel #22 freeview), we were impressed on the 5* trip from Singapore to Mid-East via India.From flight to transfer, from the Hotel to the cruise itself there were just mishaps, problems, ... Read More
After seeing the advert on TV (Planet cruise channel #22 freeview), we were impressed on the 5* trip from Singapore to Mid-East via India.From flight to transfer, from the Hotel to the cruise itself there were just mishaps, problems, issues and more of the same.
The issues started form the flight to Dubai, stewardess were very rude, short of food choices, offered lamb was given chicken instead, the excuse given was; too many people on the plane.
What kind of excuse is that?
At Singapore airport there was no taxi booked for us, we had to make our way to Hotel and cost us $25.00, contrary to other guest we met on the way, they had the sign with their name on it, and the driver waiting at the airport.
At the Hotel, they couldn't find our reservation, as time was getting on, I got a bit irate and demanded to move hotel because we were far too tired. They offered me a smoking room which stunk and later somehow they manage to find a room suitable.
On board, I experienced a catalogue of mishaps,
-starting with cabin toilet blocked in 3 occasion,
-coffee machine in buffet areas not working properly,
-coffee served coldish,
-Shortages of mugs,
-At all occasion when I asked for a stronger coffee in sachet, it took nearly 15 minutes to locate the key of cupboard to enable waiter to get them,
-asked for a bottle of still water, was given room temperature bottle with no glasses or ice,
-in the restaurant we chose a 3 courses meal, was served 2 courses at the same time.
Got so stressed out that I resulted to have a 1 course only at dinner time to avoid arguments with catering staff.
-The gluten free bread was a disgrace,
-Portions in restaurant were very mean rather on the smaller side of it,
-Portion on buffet extremely poor, constantly asking servers to add more and more,
-Asked for a single espresso was given in numerous times the double shot, in two occasion the cup had a sharp chip which I remind the bar person to discard before it will cut the lips of some guests.
-Asked for non alcoholic cocktails, was given 2 Mojito and charged 4 cocktails.
-Asked for sparkling water, was given perrier water and charged accordingly for it; contrary to the explanation given when I bought the soft drink package which later on I found out it was not included, just the still water.
-On buffet style we found a row fish amongst the fish & chip offered on the day, complained to manager & chef, which they apologised but personally it's not good enough.
-Found in two occasion members of buffet team server using toilets and not washing their hands, contrary to international Health & Safety rule for food server. Yet there were waiting staff distributing fluid jell at main entrance, what a waste of manpower.
-All machine distributing the hand jell were not working, I gather someone ordered the wrong size for the distributor.
Got in touch with "Marco" the restaurant manager, Daniele Bar Manager, Dimitri, Buffet Manager, Kostas, Breakfast supervisor, and told them all to take actions, which I hope they did, but couldn't guarantee the end was satisfactorily.
-Arrival in Dubai, waiting for the transfer to airport, again my name not on the list, and in fact there must have being at least another 20 couple who they were arguing with the representative of the taxi firm, which he advised me to take a taxi because he had no notification of my name.
Again $25.00 paid by me.
How would you say all these problems can arise to one individuals alone? I wasn't even looking for problems, even though I work in 5 Stars establishments in London I know what to look for when it came to standards.
Our trip across south Asia took place from 11 March until 6 April 2015. Last September/October we had toured Denmark, Norway, Iceland and the British Isles, coming very close to the Arctic Circle. Our south Asia trip started in Singapore ... Read More
Our trip across south Asia took place from 11 March until 6 April 2015. Last September/October we had toured Denmark, Norway, Iceland and the British Isles, coming very close to the Arctic Circle. Our south Asia trip started in Singapore which is less than two degrees of latitude from the Equator. Ironic that the coolest place we visited outside of our stopover in Paris was Dubai. Still, we managed the heat with copious amounts of water.
Air France (France is in the air) was our airline, which had the best price to take us to the other side of the world and return. We have found that airline to be one of our favorites and we still receive Delta Skymiles. The meals were about as good as you get in coach and the wine flows. Guess what, it is French wine. Our trip started 11 March with a stopover in Paris the night of the 12th giving us a day and a half there. We did not want to do a transatlantic flight back to back with a 12 ½ hour flight to Singapore. I booked a hotel room at IBIS Paris CDG Airport, which is located right outside the doors of the Roissypole RER station, accessible via the internal CDG airport rail network. The price was good at 95euros. We checked in a few hours early and paid a modest rate for that.
I had been to Versailles years ago, but Ginny had not, so we planned to go there. We took the RER after checking in the hotel. It seemed to take us forever since it was during rush hour. Also, most of the area between CDG and the city center was not the best part of town. We saw much graffiti, slums, and poor areas until we reached the Sacré Cœur in Montmartre. The second half of the RER trip from the city to Versailles went through a much better area.
It took us about three hours to get to Versailles, but we had a 30 minute wait catching the train to Versailles. The RER station was walking distance to the Chateau and we joined the large crowd headed in that direction. Walking up to the Chateau, we could see the magnificent structure as massive as it is, with all the sparkling gold leaf. We used an audio guide that didn’t function in some rooms, but found that the tour was a large improvement from when I visited in 1983. There were many displays, some video that showed the history of the structure and the improvements added over the years. Louis XIII was the first French monarch to live there, but Louis XIV turned it into what it is today. Louis XIV lived and held court there, since we was not fond of Paris.
We spend at least three hours there and were starting to tire at the end with our jet lag. We skipped touring the gardens, since the weather turned chilly and very windy. We took a warm coat each, just for our day in Paris (didn’t need coats near the equator) but the wind seemed to chill us a bit. We made our way back to the hotel, had dinner there and slept for 12 hours. That helped us to recover for the next long flight. Our flight departed at 7:55PM, so after checking out we found our way via the internal rail (and what appeared to be a bomb threat) to our terminal, checked in and had a few hours in the terminal prior to travel. We were on a Boeing 777, which has most seats with three or four together, so I booked an aisle seat and Ginny a window. Air France or its computer assumed Ginny and I would sit next to each other and moved me to the middle seat next to her. The attendant on the plane managed to move people around so I got my aisle seat. When checking in at Dubai, we discovered that AF had done the same thing, but the attendant found us seats together at the rear of the airplane with no middle seat, we were happy. Just be aware if you book with a vacant middle seat that AF may move you.
We arrived in Singapore a little before 4PM and took a taxi to our hotel. The cost was modest as we learned that taxis are very inexpensive in that City. Apparently, the government heavily taxes private automobiles. The fees to bring a car into Singapore are $100,000 and you have to buy the car as well. There must be a tax break for taxis?
Our hotel was The Royal Plaza on Scotts, a 4.5 star hotel priced at $175 US per night. The hotel was in the Orchard Road (big shopping area) two or three miles from the city center. The same quality hotel would have cost about $100 more per night downtown. Since we took taxis (cost to city center less than $10 Singapore dollars ($7.5US), if we wanted to go downtown being on Orchard Road was not a problem. Also, all our tours but one had a bus to pick us up at the hotel.
The hotel had a new appearance with generally spacious rooms. We had free coffee and tea in the room, as well as a mini-bar. The room came with a “free mini-bar” but we discovered that no alcoholic drinks were included in the mini-bar, just sodas, orange juice, water and cookies. The hotel staff was very friendly and we would definitely stay there again if we return to Singapore. There was a nice computer center that was free as well. We did not eat in the hotel restaurant, since the cost (buffet) for dinner was $71 Singapore dollars ($53 US). There were many good restaurants in the neighborhood. We had some meals in the lower level of the Shaw Center, where a food court had good local fare as well as other Asian food for about $5US per meal. After dining on Asian food for four days, we did find a very good restaurant near the hotel called “The Ship,” which is a chain restaurant in the area. It was located at 1 Scotts Road in the Shaw Center (local food in the basement of the same building).
I had booked four local tours on viator, which we have used in the past, as well as the tour to Malaysia. All the tours turned out very well. The local tour company that provided the tours was Tour East.
Singapore City Bike Tour (with Druthers Singapore) was our first tour the next day after our arrival. We slept 12 hours to recover from the jet lag. We had the advantage of this biking tour on Sunday, when traffic was light. Also, our tour started at 9:30am when traffic is even lighter. Traffic did pick up by the time the tour ended at 12:30pm. We found biking around the city to be a great way to see the city. We covered a lot of the downtown area as well as Chinatown, the scenic harbor and Gardens by the Bay. The tour included the following:
Bicycle tour of Singapore city streets with a local guide
See sights from the ultra-modern Marina Bay Sands to traditional neighborhoods like Chinatown and Kampong Glam
Explore narrow alleyways with hidden architectural gems and amazing shops
Bike along easy routes past the Singapore Flyer, the Esplanade Theater, and Gardens by the Bay
Safety equipment and beverages provided
Small-group tour with a max of eight people gives you a more personalized experience
We had a group of six and we managed quite well getting around the city. It was hot, but while biking you have a breeze from the movement. While we visited Gardens by the Bay, we didn’t have time to visit the domed indoor gardens. Also, we did not pay to go up to the top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel/Casino, which is built like a ship held up by three very tall buildings.
After the ride, we walked back to the Singapore river area, which has a lot of restaurants. We had a great meal at a Vietnamese restaurant. On the way back to the hotel, we found the famous Raffles Hotel. First opened in 1887, the hotel has been a landmark since then. We settled into the long bar and had our $36S dollars Singapore sling cocktail, which was invented there. The drink was good, but I would have preferred a beer. Still, we checked off that experience. We walked back to the hotel, down Orchard road past a lot of shoppers, malls and shops. It was a good day and we were done after all the walking and biking.
Singapore Jurong Bird Park Tour was our first tour on the next day. The tour was described as follows:
Take a ride on the air-conditioned Panorail for a panoramic view of Singapore's Jurong Bird Park, also referred to as Wings of Color, and into a tropical world of jungle mists at the Waterfall Aviary. With this 4-hour tour you'll also enjoy the spectacular Penguin Exhibit with an underwater viewing gallery and do not miss the Birds & Buddies Show, reputed as world-class.
Jurong Bird Park, with a collection of 9,000 birds from 600 species it's the largest in Asia Pacific
Explore the world's largest walk-in aviary with the tallest man-made waterfall
Ride on the air-conditioned Panorail for a panoramic view of Singapore's Jurong Bird Park
Hotel pickup and drop off
The bird park was great. Our guide first took us on a tram around the park. We could see some of the birds from the tram, but stopped twice to see the waterfall (inside an aviary) as well as the wonderful lorry loft (an aviary with many of the beautiful birds). In the lorry loft many of the birds come up very close to you. We saw Antarctic penguins, a lake full of colorful flamingos and another with pelicans.
We saw two bird shows. The first show was a birds of prey show with eagles, vultures, hawks and owls. The handlers ably showed off the talents of the birds. The second show was even better with a variety of colorful birds performing for us.
You can visit the park without a guide, but the park is some distance from the city, having transport and a guide was a plus.
Singapore's Chinatown Trishaw Night Tour was our next tour, that same evening. We were picked up at our hotel at 6pm and taken to Chinatown. We had a Chinese meal first, which was good, not exceptional. We then had about an hour for shopping in Chinatown, which was way too long for most of us. We then were picked up by Trishaw’s, which are partially motorized with our driver providing additional locomotion via pedaling. We rode around Chinatown and then over to the Singapore river where we were loaded onto a bumboat for an evening river/harbor cruise, with a guide pointing out key landmarks. It turned out to be great fun and we happened to catch part of the light show over the Gardens by the Bay during the cruise.
Singapore Round-Island Tour with Changi Prison, Kranji War Memorial and Gardens by the Bay was our final tour in Singapore, the next day. The tour was a full day and described, as follows:
Retrace Singapore's WWII history with this round-island tour that will take you to Changi Chapel and Museum and Kranji War Memorial. Explore both sites with your guide to discover the small details of the lives of POWs that were imprisoned in Changi and the countless men and women who bravely defended Singapore against the Japanese invasion. Admire the intricate architecture of the structures of Bright Hill Temple and the modern developments of Gardens by the Bay. Your tour includes hotel pickup and drop-off and lunch at a local restaurant.
Round-island tour of Singapore with expert guide
Insights provided by a knowledgeable licensed guide
Pay respects to the brave WWII heroes at Kranji War Memorial
Explore Changi Chapel and Museum to learn about the lives of POWs imprisoned in Changi
Enjoy lunch at a local Singaporean restaurant
View over 250,000 species of rare plants in Gardens by the Bay
Hotel pickup and drop-off and scenic drive by air-conditioned vehicle
The tour took us over quite a bit of the island, focusing on World War II history. We saw where the Japanese invaded the NW shore of Singapore, an allied cemetery and the Changi museum of how the allied prisoners and Singaporeans were treated during the war. Also, we visited a large Buddhist temple known as Bright Hill Temple. The tour ended at Gardens by the Bay, were you could leave the bus to see the two domed gardens. We had seen the outdoor gardens on the Bike tour. After a full day, we elected to go back to the hotel, since we had plans to visit the Singapore Botanical Gardens the next day.
Singapore Botanical Gardens we did on our own the next day. The gardens were about a mile and a half from our hotel, so we walked there. We spent about five hours at the gardens, with one hour having lunch in an air-conditioned restaurant. The gardens were fantastic, probably the best botanical gardens that I have ever seen. There were many exhibits of various plants, but the highlight was the Orchid exhibit. The gardens were free, but there was a fee for the Orchid exhibit. It was only one Singapore dollar for us (seniors). The orchid exhibit was great. We very much enjoyed all the beautiful flowers and took several photos. Also, the gardens had an interesting evolution garden where they traced the evolution of plants through the ages.
2-day tour from Singapore to Malacca and Kuala Lumpur with a knowledgeable guide
We arranged to leave our large suitcases at the hotel and packed carry-ons for our two night/three day trip to Malaysia. I found the tour on Viator and we were not disappointed. The tour cost $ 262.60 per person and the highlights were as follows:
Relax on a train ride from Singapore through the countryside to the state of Johor
Discover Malacca’s history, culture and heritage on a walking tour of Malacca City
Visit main sites such as St Paul’s Hill, Porta De Santiago, Cheng Hoon Teng Temple and Jonkers Street
Venture to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, to visit the National Palace, the National Museum, the National Monument and more
See the Petronas Twin Towers, the two second-tallest buildings in the world!
Coach transport and overnight accommodation in a 4-star hotel included
The tour details were, as follows:
Day 1: Singapore – Malacca (L)
After pickup from your Singapore hotel in the morning, enjoy a relaxing train ride across the causeway and into the state of Johor, passing through the rural countryside and fruit and vegetable plantations along the way.
Disembark in the city of Kluang and continue the rest of your journey to the state of Malacca by coach. You’ll arrive in time for lunch followed by a historical walking tour of Malacca City, whose city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Discover Malacca’s history, culture, heritage and Dutch influences as you visit sites such as St Paul’s Hill, Porta De Santiago, Cheng Hoon Teng Temple and Jonkers Street, also known as Antique Street. Your knowledgeable guide will provide interesting information about the sites you visit.
For dinner, your guide will provide great recommendations on places to enjoy an authentic meal.
Overnight: 4-Star Hotel Equatorial or similar in Malacca
Day 2: Malacca -- Kuala Lumpur (B,L)
After breakfast, you’ll drive 2 hours north to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. Your tour of this city will cover sites such as the National Palace, the National Museum, the National Monument (sculptured by the creator of the Iwo Jima monument in Washington, DC), the National Mosque, the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and the Royal Selangor Club. You’ll also pass the Petronas Twin Towers, the two second-tallest buildings in the world!
You’ll be served an authentic Malaysian lunch at midday. At the end of the day, relax on the drive back to your Kuala Lumpur hotel, where your 2-day Malaysian experience will conclude.
We expected to be part of a large group, but were the only persons on the tour. In effect, we had a private guide. Our guide was excellent.
The tour bus dropped us off at the Woodland’s train station, which also acts as the immigration clearance for exiting and entering Singapore from Malaysia. It is a busy place. Our initial guide provided us with rail tickets and after processing through immigration, we took the train to the Malaysian city of Kluang. The train was not a typical European train, it was well worn and noisy, but comfortable enough. We were on the train for almost two hours, then transferring to our small bus, with our driver and guide. On the way to Malacca (on the southwestern shore of Malaysia) our guide pointed out various trees and explained the industry associated with the trees. There were many palm trees, since palm oil is a major industry in Malaysia. We stopped once on the trip to see rubber trees. Out guide pointed out how the rubber was harvested from cuts into the trees. We learned that cars are manufactured in Malaysia and saw many. The highway system was fairly good, especially the toll road from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur (like an interstate). The driving was relatively normal, unlike what we found later in India.
We arrived in Malacca and had an excellent lunch at our modern hotel, The Hotel Equatorial. In fact, the food that we had in Malaysia was superb. It shows Indian, Chinese and Thai influences.
After lunch we did a walking tour of Malacca, which was a key Portuguese port dating back to 1511. In the 15th and the 16th century, Malacca was the capital of the Malaccan Sultanate after the Malays moved over from Sumatra. However it was colonized by the Portuguese and later by the Dutch and British. We saw the old fort at Bandar Hill, colonial building, and the site where Malaysia declared its independence in 1956. We saw Cheng Hoon Teng temple, a Chinese temple practicing the Three Doctrinal Systems of Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. Nearby was a mosque as well as walking down Jonkers Street with all its shops.
After a good breakfast at our hotel, we checked out and proceeded to Kuala Lumpur, the country’s capital. We stopped at the national palace where the Sultan lives. The position more or less rotates among the nine Sultans in the country. We visited the national museum, national mosque (not inside), as well saw the Royal Selangor Club and the colonial building known as Sultan Abdul Samad Building. We saw the twin towers of the Petronas Twin Tower, which are the tallest twin tower in the World. While on the tour in Kuala Lumpur, we had another wonderful lunch at a very nice restaurant. The restaurant was Songket, located at No. 29, Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, Kuala Lumpur 50450.
The tour ended when we were dropped off at the hotel that I had booked. The hotel was the five star HOTEL ISTANA KUALA LUMPUR. It was a fabulous hotel with free breakfast, all for $95 per night. Malaysia is inexpensive to visit. The hotel upgraded us to a suite that overlooked the city and a wonderful view of the Petronas Towers. The hotel was great, people there great, but we found the bed to be harder than we prefer. If it had a sleep number from 1-100, it would have been 95. Still, we slept well and prepared to head back to Singapore.
This portion of the trip did not go as I expected. I had researched taking the train back to Singapore, as well as a bus. There were many private bus companies and I found one that departed from a nearby bus terminal at 9:45am, with a 4 ½ hour transit time.
We arrived at the terminal early and went upstairs to the directed ticket booth to find no one in attendance. A note was provided that our bus to Singapore departed from gate 13. The bus company was known as StarQistna Express. I had a voucher from our tickets and looked all over the station for a bus with StarQistna Express painted on the bus, without finding one. Finally, at 10:15, someone runs up to gate 13 (down in the hot, non-air-conditioned area) asking for someone going to Singapore. Ginny was standing there while I was looking for our bus. Fortunately, that was our bus. We hopped on, not happy, but relieved. Then the fun began, our bus spent over an hour going to another bus terminal to then fill up the bus, finally getting on the toll road to Singapore. I asked when the bus arrived in Singapore and was told 3:30pm. NOT, we stopped again at a bus terminal just over the border from Singapore and entered Malaysian immigration at about 3:30. Then, we proceeded to Singapore immigration, catching a taxi about 5:15PM. We got to our hotel in about 20 minutes. We were wiped out after our 7.5 hours of travel. My advice, if you need to go from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, take an airplane.
Not arriving at 5pm was a little bit of a problem, since I had arranged for a pre-cruise greeting at nearby wine bar. When we arrived in Singapore, we found that the wine bar was closed for renovation. I tried to arrange an alternate location, even with the help of the hotel concierge, but had to cancel the greeting. I had put the cancellation notice on the cruise critic roll call a few days before, but wanted to be there and explain, in the event someone showed up. As it turned out Patti and Dennis from Wisconsin, who we cruised with on the Black Sea cruise showed up and found the closed bar, but then found us checking in to our hotel (they booked the same hotel).
The hotel made up to some degree for our terrible day. We were upgraded to the “club,” on floors 14 and 15. There was a club that provided free drinks (alcoholic) as well as food that qualified for dinner. Also, we had a free breakfast there the next day. Patti and Dennis had been upgraded as well, so we got together that evening.
Comparing Singapore with Malaysia
Singapore is a thriving city-state that is prosperous. It has made full use of its assets, such as it location as a key port. It is more expensive to live there, but the standard of living is clearly near first world levels. It was once a part of Malaysia and went its own way. Malaysia a more agricultural country with some industry, and but it is not at Singapore’s level. Still, Malaysia seems to be moving in the right direction. Both countries are multi-ethnic, but Singapore has a majority of Chinese ancestry, while Malaysia is predominately Malay. Also, Singapore’s population only has about 13% Muslim population and Malaysia has a majority of Muslims. In Singapore few headscarves are evident, while they are common in Malaysia. The people in both countries are friendly and the food is excellent in both, especially in Malaysia. The infrastructure in both countries is far better than in India.
Our taxi to the cruise port was $15S tip included. We were processed quickly and found a good seat in the Rendezvous Lounge while we waited for our cabin to be ready. Heather, our roll call manager had posted photos of many of us and I recognized Frank and Norm, so I went over to meet them. Our cruise critic meet and greet took place in the Crystal Lounge the next day. We were able to meet those who had signed up for tours. Since I had organized tour for each of the four Indian ports, I wanted to let everyone know what I looked like.
Back to day cruise day one. Our cabins were ready and we proceeded to our Sunset Veranda cabin, which was an aft cabin on deck 12 overlooking the Sunset Bar and a large tarp on deck 11. We were in cabin 1246, which had an extra-large balcony. The cabin was great, but I did not anticipate the heat in late March. The balcony was too hot to use for most of the cruise. I think an aft balcony would be better for an Alaska cruise, with chilly weather, since you don’t have much wind at all there. We would have appreciated more wind and more shade as well. There were a couple of issues that were irritants. First, our bed was curved at the corners (first time we have had this kind of bed) and at 6’1” I could not stretch out my right leg out completely. Therefore, I had to sleep at an angle or undo the covers that were tucked under the bed. Also, from time to time we seemed to have only lukewarm water for our shower. This was particularly true if we wanted to shower in the late afternoon after a hot day of touring. Others complained about the same problem.
Before I selected Cabin 1246 for this cruise, I read about a dozen reviews on cruise critic from people that had stayed in the cabin. Most had a positive evaluation, however one reviewer complained about the bird poo on the tarp above the sunset bar. Ginny thought this was funny and every day we examined the tarp for bird poo. We never saw any on the tarp, but one day, late in the cruise, there was a huge splat of bird poo on our balcony, close to the sliding glass door. Ginny took a photo to show others and we had a laugh about that.
Our first night dining in early dining found us a table for eight, no problem, but it was in a noisy area. Our tablemates complained about this and moved. They called us later to explain and invite us to their new table, but we had already moved to select dining (anytime dining). When we arrived for our meal the second day, all new people had taken over. It was a family with small children as well. We would have been the only others at the table and asked to be moved to select.
This is the second cruise were our early dining table failed. We will probably go with select dining in the future.
We found the 20 year old Century to be in pretty fair ship, however the longer we were on the ship; we noticed items that needed repair. Still, the Century was in pretty good shape considering her age. This was the next to last cruise of the Century, which was sold to be a gambling ship out of Shanghai.
Food and Service
We found the food and service to be similar to our other Celebrity cruises. Both were consistently good. One exception, our favorite dessert, the crepe suzette was not up to par.
We didn’t see every show, but what we did see was very good to excellent. Opening night was very good, we saw the Celebrity Singers and Dancers, Aerialists Alex and Vlada as well as Charlie Butler and Tammy Rafferty. The show was not flashy, but entertaining.
We enjoyed the production show with its singers and dancers. There was A Touch of Broadway, Century Rocks and Dance Around the World. It was all well performed; however, the Century Rocks (British 60s music) had poor song selection. It seemed to include every second rate song. Still, it was well performed. Dance Around the World was similar to other World shows we have seen on Celebrity and we enjoyed the show.
We saw Greg Scott, the world’s tallest violinist, twice and his shows were excellent, while poorly attended. Marco Romano, an Italian vocalist performed a range of show music as well as some opera. He was excellent.
Getting off the Ship
We had quite a time getting off the ship in Cochin (first port in India) as well as the second port, Mangalore. In Cochin, we waited in line for an hour and twenty minutes, largely because of the Indian immigration authorities. In Mangalore, Celebrity was poorly organized in arranging for all the passes to be set up by deck delaying us for about 45 minutes. I will say that the Century learned from its mistakes, because in the next two Indian ports, Goa and Mumbai, everything went very smoothly.
There were four sea days between Singapore and Cochin, so we had time to explore the ship, visit the fitness center and socialize with friends, many we met on cruise critic. Heather was the key organizer. Ginny participated in an earring exchange where one would draw lots for earrings. I didn’t participate.
I did organize a Cabin Crawl with about 25 persons participating. We visited 8 cabins, including suites, balconies, concierges, an aft balcony, an inside and an ocean view. After that we crawled to a bar for a drink.
Cochin was our first port in India, and we were excited to be there. After the tedious immigration process, we met our private tour guide with Cochin Day Tours-Muziris Heritage. Lijo Jose was my point of contact and may have been the owner of the company. We met Lijo while on this tour.
Our tour was the Cochin Backwater Tour that included a peaceful two hour ride on a houseboat. We had a nice Indian lunch on the houseboat. We cruised the waters of Alapuzha, and then drove back to Ft. Cochin. Back in Cochin, we had an opportunity to shop and visit the Paradesi Synagogue. It is the oldest active synagogue in the British Commonwealth of Nations. It was constructed in 1567. The tour was seven hours and cost $75 per person.
The two hour road trip out to Alapuzha introduced us to the Indian highways and white knuckle travel. Driving in India was very suspenseful. Many times our small bus would be passing a motor scooter (lots of them) and find ourselves in the middle of the two lane highway. Another vehicle would be approaching us, almost like we were playing “chicken.” At the last second either our bus or the other would slip back from the middle of the road, averting a collision. Not sure how the drivers seem to read each other’s intentions, but we saw no collisions. Still, the drive was a bit stressful. However, just going through the countryside, we were able to observe the state of the area. The road infrastructure in India was very poor and with 1.2 Billion people in the country, the roads always seem full.
However, our two hour houseboat cruise was very peaceful and refreshing. All on our tour very much enjoyed this experience.
Our next port was Mangalore. The tour was with the same company of Lijo Jose. Our guide was excellent on this tour. His name was Anup D’Almeida. This tour included a lot more to see, but we were out in the Indian heat for six hours. The cost was $85 per person.
The tour is described in this link. It included:
1. Pick up from the cruise terminal
2. Cashew factory visit
3. Kadri and Gogarnatha temple visit
4. Visit Central market
5. St. Aloysius Chapel visit
6. Orientation tour of Mangalore city
7. Drop you at the cruise terminal according to your schedule.
Anup took us to two Hindu temples and provided some background on the faith. Our guide in Cochin had provided us with some information as well. We were told that the Hindu faith has three main gods (a trinity) as well as many other gods. However, they all go back to god the creator. In this way the Hindu faith is not like the ancient Greek and Roman religions. First, we visited a cashew factory (and purchased some cashews). It was interesting to follow how cashews are processed. The process seems tedious, since there are several stages before you arrive at the edible nut.
Our first Hindu temple was the Gogarnatha temple. The temple was about 100 years old, but very elaborate and impressive. The second, temple, Kadri Manjunatha dates back to 1068 A.D. Both temples required us to take off our shoes. At the end of the day, the soles of our socks were black. Still, it was instructive to see the various shrines and understand their significance.
We visited the St. Aloysius Chapel at the site of a Catholic compound that included a large Catholic school. Our guide had graduated from that school and was familiar with the people there. The art work on the interior of the chapel was amazing.
The Central market was one of several markets that we visited in India. Warning, the fish market will overcome your olfactory senses. We saw a huge fish market with row after row of fish, first the dried fish, then the fresh fish. Apparently, fish is dried out if not eaten soon after the fish is caught, since proper refrigeration is not always available.
This tour exceeded our expectations for Mangalore, since I had assumed that this port would be the least interesting. However, we were out in the heat most of the tour and wiped out when we returned from the ship.
Our next port was a former Portuguese colony until annexed by India in 1961. There are a higher percentage of Catholics in the state than in the rest of India. Our tour in Goa was provided by Lijo Jose’s company, as in Cochin and Mangalore.
The tour was described as follows:
We start the day to a visit to the former capital of Goa “Old Goa where we visit Churches built by the Portuguese. Visit the Basilica of Bom Jesus where the relics of St Francis Xavier been kept, later visit the Se Cathedral this church is the second biggest in Asia.
The Shri Mangueshi Temple is set atop a hill at Priol, northwest of Ponda leading to Old Goa. The temple has a seven-story lamp tower (which is a unique trait of Hindu temples in Goa), a Nandi bull (Lord Shiva's conveyance), as well as shrines to Parvati and Lord Ganesha. During the festival of Mangesh Jatra, the rath (temple chariot) is pulled by several devotees.
The Mahalsa Narayani Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu's consort Laxmi, though some people believe it is the Lord Vishnu's female form Mohini. A lamp tower, which is seven floors high, can also be found here. Garuda, the great bird that was Lord Vishnu's conveyance sits atop a pillar, which rests on the back of a turtle. There are intricately carved columns and painting of the 10 avatars or incarnations of Vishnu.
From here we drive to the spice plantation. Tour guide will then take you on a tour of the plantation which will last about one hour, the guide will explain about all the spices and plants you discover and tell you about their medicinal properties. Black pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, chillies, coriander and all spice are just some of the spice plants you will find in the plantation. Varieties of Cashew trees, betelnut palm trees and some tropical
fruits like Star fruit, Custard apples, Papaya, Bananas, Pineapples and the Citrus fruits are also found in the grounds.
After you turn round the plantation, you will be served lunch. The lunch is a very tasty local meal served on a banana leaf plates, accompanied by a sweet dish and a tipple of cashew feni (Goan specialty).
Then proceed to Margao City , which was once considered the Capital of Goa during its early centuries, left the job of capital to the river port of Chandrapur or now presently called as Chandor.
Our tour was $70 and included a wonderful lunch at the Spice Plantation. We visited the Churches described above, but only passed the temples mentioned. Also, we visited another market. It was very colorful, especially since some of our group saw three or four dead rats in the streets. The inside of the markets were clean. We would see more markets in Mumbai, but no rats.
The highlight of this tour was the spice plantation. It was shaded there and cooler. Our guide at the plantation pointed out many species of spice plants. There was an elephant in the creek on the plantation and some young people were riding the elephant.
After the Goa tour four of our party that were scheduled to go on my Mumbai Magic tour the next day indicated that after three days of touring in the heat, they were opting out for the Mumbai tour. I was able to find additional persons to replace them.
This city was the one that I had most anticipated visiting. The tour was with a company known as Mumbai Magic. It was a seven our tour of the city and markets at the cost of 3000 Indian Rupees (about $52US per person (lunch not included). It was two tours combined.
The tour was described as follows:
Mumbai By Day
This tour tells the story of the transformation of Mumbai from a mono-cultural sleepy fishing hamlet into a melting pot that is today the commercial capital of India. The tour will showcase all aspects of Mumbai – the narrow geographical layout, the coastline, the daily commuting, the various communities that make up the city, the old heritage district, the old commercial and residential districts and the upcoming districts.
The tour includes a short walk through the Heritage District and the Kala Ghoda Art Precinct.
The tour covers all the must-see places on any traveler's itinerary:
• The Gateway of India, and the area around it
• Regal Circle and the heritage buildings there, including the Prince of Wales Museum, NGMA, Police Headquarters, etc.
• The Kala Ghoda Art Precinct
• Bombay University and cricket at the Oval Maidan
• Flora Fountain
• Town Hall
• Victoria Terminus and the Municipal Building
• Crawford Market
• Marine Drive and Chowpatty Beach
• Mani Bhavan, home of Gandhi
• Malabar Hill
• The popular Dhobi Ghat
Mumbai Bazaar Walk
The tour covers Crawford Market, Jama Masjid (meet India’s oldest Muslim community, who came here in the 6th Century), Mirchi Galli (spices market), Mangaldas Cloth Market, Zaveri Bazaar (where everyone’s crazy about gold), Phool Galli (Flower Street), Mumbadevi Temple (where the city gets its name from), and the quaint Madhav Baug.
You’ll also get an inside look at the Jain community, visit a Panjra Pole (animal shelter) – and you’ll finally figure out what this ‘sacred cow’ thing is all about!
Sancia was our guide. She was intelligent and articulate and provided much information about the city. Our tour required the bus to travel a lot in heavy traffic, but we saw everything on the city tour and did visit markets, however, by the time we visited the markets, it was late in the day and we were tired and time was short. Still, the tour was excellent.
Our first stop was at the famous Gateway of India arch. The landmark Taj Mahal Hotel is nearby and we went through security to go inside the hotel. Ginny found an Indian cookbook at the hotel bookstore. The hotel appeared to be the model of luxury. We stopped at the Victoria Terminus rail station for a photo opportunity, but were unable to go inside the terminal. We drove on Marine Drive and saw Chowpatty Beach, then on to Malabar Hill and had time to walk around the hanging gardens park and take photos of the city. We had a brief visit at a Hare Krishna temple. It was elaborate and one lady there was trying to convert me.
Sancia took us to a nearby restaurant, which was very nice and we had a light lunch with a tasty yogurt drink and thin flat bread with a kind of potato spread. It was just what we wanted and only cost us 500 rupees for two.
After lunch, we visited Gandhi’s home (in Mumbai- he was from another city in Southern India. The home was interesting, but crowded. It did provide some history of the man’s life with photos and a nice diorama. At some point we went back to Victoria Terminus to see the men that deliver home cooked meals on their bicycles. They bring the food from homes and then transfer the containers (many on the bikes) to the assigned person for delivery, via bike.
Dhobi Ghat was our next stop, where we saw a large area with many concrete pools where laundry was hand washed and you could see many places were the laundry was drying in the sun. Apparently, about five thousand persons from outside the city come temporarily to launder for many clients, including some of the local hospitals and hotels. A shanty town has grown up in and around the area as well. There were hawkers selling other items as well in the area. It was a very interesting visual for us.
The market part of the trip took about an hour and our guide took us through different markets. Then on to the ship, which was to sail to Muscat, Oman that afternoon.
Sancia told us that the population of India is 55% male and 45% female. She explained an interesting policy instituted when Rajiv Gandhi was prime minister some years ago. In an effort to limit population growth and educate women more, the policy stated that if a family was limited to three children that the women were provided free education, including college. I cannot find this policy on an internet search, but I did find policies that reserved 30% of spaces for women.
India was fascinating, but I would advise not to go in March. Go in November-February, when it is cooler. Also, the rich culture, history and friendly people are worth the visit, but the country is generally poor (we were told that half the people in Mumbai live in slums and largely unemployed). The highways are not for the faint of heart. The food is fantastic and I wish we had an Indian restaurant in our community.
Oman is a country with about 4.5 million people on the southeast corner of the Arabian Peninsula. It has been a stable country lacking in internal conflict and terrorism. The country is largely Sunni, Muslim and moderate in nature.
We were now in a largely desert country with a dry climate, but the high temperature during our visit reached 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Still, we found the heat less oppressive than the heavy humidity nearer the equator in India.
Ginny and I took a Celebrity excursion (cost $99 pp). It was called Fabulous Forts. It was described, as follows:
Overview: Venture into Oman's mountainous interior to visit historic forts in Nizwa and Jabrin. At Nizwa, the country's historic capital and longtime religious center, you'll explore the fortress with its massive tower offering spectacular views, and stroll the new souk complex where artisans sell their wares. The nearby town of Jabrin is home to Omani fort, whose 17th century structures retain a medieval atmosphere and decor. Relax over lunch at a hotel before returning to port.
Highlights: Nizwa Fort: This impressive fortification's massive tower offers expansive views of the mosque, this ancient city and surrounding landscape. Nizwa Souk: Stroll past stalls selling everything from fruits and spices to local artisans' fine handmade leather and silver goods. Jabrin Castle: Admire the exquisite decor as you wander through rooms and courtyards of this spectacular 17th century fortification.
What to Bring: SeaPass card and photo identification Camera Cash/credit cards Sun protection
Our tour guide was Achmed, he was an excellent guide with a good sense of humor. We visited the two forts after a two hour ride past some scenery that reminded us of Arizona. The forts were in the interior of the country. The forts had ingenious ways of keeping the interior of the buildings cool in the intense heat. One method was an interior courtyard shielded from the sun with massive walls kept the heat from permeating the interior of the structure. Another method, which we saw as well in Dubai, was a venting system that diverted wind down into the building. We had an excellent lunch at a nice hotel. The food was Arabic and everyone specifically raved about the Arabic dessert that was some type of custard or pudding. It had cinnamon, raisons and more, with no calories.
On the way back to the ship, Achmed stopped at the Muscat Grand Mosque for us to take photos of the outside. Since it was prayer time, we could not go inside the mosque. The mosque was massive, but in a couple of days we saw the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, which surpassed this mosque.
Our final port was Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, which includes seven emirates, each with an Emir. The Emir of Abu Dhabi is the elected head of state. Ginny and I signed on to a marathon private tour with Fiona, from NSW, Australia.
The tour was named the '7 Emirates in a Day' tour. The tour was advertised as 12 hours in length, but turned out to be over 16 hours. We departed at 8am and returned after midnight. The ship was still there, since our disembarkation was later that day.
The tour was $65, an amazing value for a tour that took us over about 600 miles to all the emirates.
There were 21 of us on the tour, most were from Australia. Aussies are always fun, so we enjoyed the group. The tour was great, but exhausting.
In some emirates, our tour was largely a windshield tour, but we stopped at important sites and very much enjoyed the trip.
Our tour began at the old Dubai fort, which is also a museum. The museum was interesting and we only had about 30 minutes there. From there, we proceeded to the famous creek and took a boat ride across. Then, we had a walk through the gold suk. , We then proceeded toward the emirate of Sharjah, which is the next one east of Dubai (Dubai is the second largest emirate, Sharjah is the third). Each emirate is like a state and has its own laws. Dubai is more relaxed and cosmopolitan while Sharjah is traditional and conservative (like Saudi Arabia). Sharjah has sharia law and punishes for crimes like kissing in public. Many live in Sharjah and commute to Dubai, since real estate prices are lower. The Ajman emirate was next and we could see the beach from our bus. We then drove on to Umm Al Quqain emirate. We stopped about noon at the rak-al hamra mall in Ras Al Khaimah emirate. The mall was modern with two floors and a large open area. There was a Johnny Rocket’s restaurant in the mall, as well as other restaurants. We bought takeout from Nando’s restaurant (which all our Australian friends were familiar with). The food was good, but we had to eat while the bus was moving and avoid spilling sauce on or clothes.
After lunch, we drove off into a more remote area (there was a new road being constructed in the area). To see the RAK Queen’s Palace, reputed to be 3000 years old and the Queen of Sheba’s palace. The small building remaining was at the top of a hill that required some effort to climb. There were steps part of the way, but at some point using hands and feet was required. Still, it was worth the effort. Not sure is it was the Queen of Sheba’s palace, but was probably 3000 years old. There were great vistas of the landscape.
Moving on to Fujairah emirate, our sixth, we first saw the oldest mosque in the UAE, the Bidya Mosque. We were told it goes back to the 15th century. It was small, but we were able to go inside briefly, until prayer time began. This emirate faces the Arabian Sea, not the Persian Gulf and we learned that there is a pipeline underground from Abu Dhabi to this location (avoiding a potential cut off of shipments out of the straits of Hormuz. Our last stop in Fujairah was at the massive Fujairah Fort. The fort is the oldest in the UAW, over 200 years old.
Our last emirate was over two hours away and it was late afternoon. We were tiring, but told by our guides that the grand mosque in Abu Dhabi was worth the time.
About half of our group, including some children opted to head back to Dubai without going to Abu Dhabi. Our guide Kafir, arranged for another bus to meet our bus, off the freeway and our group of 21 was down to 11. We were all tired, but pushed on. Upon arriving at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, it was discovered that our reservation was lost, so Kafir had to make another. Further, Ginny and I, as well as Patrick and Sandra did not meet the conservative standard for clothing. Our guide knew how to go around that, by calling taxi that would take us to the other side of the mosque, so we could walk underground to pick up the proper apparel. We managed this and entered the mosque with a little over ten minutes until it closed. The mosque was virtually empty and we made the most of that with our several photos. The mosque was huge and cost 2 billion dollars.
The mosque is the largest in the UAE and can hold 40,000 persons. From the carpet to the chandeliers, the place was awesome. There was fantastic air work all around. The chandeliers were from Germany and carpet from Iran. The carpet is considered the largest in the world. There three large domes on the mosque inspired by Persian, Mughal and Moorish mosque architecture.
Leaving the Mosque, we proceeded back to Dubai and arrived after midnight. It was an amazing day with all that we had seen, but we were very tired and had to finish packing our large bags to put outside our room for the luggage handlers later that morning. We only had a few hours of sleep when the wakeup call rang.
I had booked a city tour of Dubai that ended at the airport. The tour description was not detailed by Celebrity, so we were not too happy when we discovered that about half the tour duplicated yesterday’s tour. Once at the airport we took a taxi to the Holiday Inn Express, Dubai Airport, where we checked in for about 8 hours. We were able to sleep a couple of hours, relax and take a shower in preparation for our 26 hour trip back home. We were on Air France to Paris, then a five hour layover in CDG airport (fortunately same terminal), then on to Atlanta.
It was great to be back in our home state and country. I can remember when the airplane would erupt in clapping when the plane landed.
Upon entering the immigration room in Atlanta (we have been there many times), it became apparent that there was gridlock somewhere. Non-citizens were directed to line up in front of booths with real persons checking their passports. US citizens were confronted with a mass of idle machines. The machines appeared to be non-functional. After about 20 minutes, some of the machines were working and the line moved slowly. People were angry and worried about missing their connecting flights. Fortunately, the computers started working and we were processed through the system and made our way to our Jacksonville flight.
We made it home before 8pm to find our cat Simon waiting for us. He wanted immediate love and affection.
Our trip was great, but I am convinced that Ginny and I need to complete our long distance flights while we can still handle the brutality of back to back 9 or 12 hour flights. .
We recently had the privilege of cruising on the penultimate sailing of the “Grand Old Lady” of the Celebrity fleet, the Century, from Singapore to Dubai via India. As the title of the review may suggest it was pretty much a ... Read More
We recently had the privilege of cruising on the penultimate sailing of the “Grand Old Lady” of the Celebrity fleet, the Century, from Singapore to Dubai via India. As the title of the review may suggest it was pretty much a mixed bag experience with many positives yet some notable negatives as we elaborate on further below. It was also a fascinating emotional roller coaster ride being exposed to a range of mind opening experiences in the space of a few short weeks. Witnessing the poverty, squalor yet authenticity of India was indeed humbling, an experience that contrasted so vividly with the sheer opulence, architectural majesty, but somehow artificial engineering marvel that is Dubai.
Notwithstanding some serious misgivings we had about certain aspects of the cruise discussed later in the review, we thoroughly enjoyed our adventure to the sub-continent. The good stuff quite definitively out-weighed any perceived shortcomings.
The crew: We thought the crew from senior officers through to pool butlers, stateroom attendants, wine stewards, waiters etc., to be outstanding and one of the best crews we have experienced on any of our previous cruises. The Master of the ship Captain George Iatrou and his highly visible officers clearly lead by example. Virtually all the crew we encountered were invariably polite, cheerful, accommodating and efficient always being prepared to “go the extra mile” with a smile.
The ship: We were pleasantly surprised at the overall condition of the Century. From reports we had perused we had expected her to be somewhat rundown and dilapidated. However, while she obviously showed signs of her age we found her to be pretty well maintained, scrupulously clean and possessing of a refined ambience that one seldom finds on the more modern, glitzy cruise ships.
Food: Quality, variety and presentation of food in all the restaurants on board was more than satisfactory. We had only two relatively poor dining experiences throughout the two week cruise and generally found the standard of fare on offer to be good to very good with some exceptional meals.
Fellow passengers: We met and enjoyed the company of many wonderful people on board from a number of countries including Canada, Britain, Australia, Germany and the USA, especially during the nightly Elite member “happy hour”. The mix of passengers both in terms of ethnicity and age was broader and more diverse than we have experienced in most of our cruises.
The weather: Not one bad day during the entire two week cruise! Generally flat seas, long warm to hot days and virtually no precipitation. The heat and humidity was oppressive at times especially in Goa and Oman but who’s complaining!
Embarkation/disembarkation: Both embarkation and disembarkation procedures were smooth and efficient. We arrived at the cruise terminal in Singapore shortly after 11h00 and were on board quaffing a welcoming glass of champagne twenty minutes later. We disembarked quite late in the process so did not experience any congestion at the arrivals terminal at all.
Indian immigration system: The mindless bureaucracy of the Indian immigration authorities and the complex, repetitive, paper driven immigration system were mind boggling. Apart from already having to acquire a costly visa, the authorities also required each passenger to complete documentation for individual shore passes for each of the four ports on the Indian itinerary – an irritatingly laborious, time-consuming and shambolic procedure. A copy of the passport had to be affixed to each individual shore pass and on two occasions, passengers had to line up for a face to face inspection by the immigration authorities before being allowed on shore. This in addition to having to produce the Celebrity SeaPass which is accepted by immigration authorities in virtually all other places we have visited worldwide!
Then, to compound matters, all documentation had to be checked again at the port entry/exit point. In Mangalore this incredibly entailed a uniformed immigration officer actually manually writing down each person’s passport details which presumably had to be reconciled manually on return to the ship. Who designed this process? And what earthly purpose can it possibly hope to achieve?
India is one of the most technologically savvy nations on earth and, even if the authorities could see some value in the complex system they have installed, one would have thought in this technological age, that a simple software programme could be devised and installed to at least remove the endless paperwork from the system. In the private sector companies have been forced to question the purpose and validity of all their systems and to re-engineer and simplify those that are deemed to be essential in order to remain relevant and competitive. This is the antithesis of the Indian immigration process.
We had been previously informed that India had inherited bureaucracy from their previous colonial masters the British. Given the pointless stupidity of the immigration system that passengers had to endure on this trip, it is clear India has taken bureaucratic complexity to a new level!
The convoluted immigration process is a major inconvenience and disincentive to visitors to India which should be doing everything it can to encourage more tourists to its shores. India has until only recently become a cruising destination and quite frankly we feel the cruise companies should advise the Indian authorities that unless they are willing to simplify and make their immigration process less onerous on the cruising tourist, they will seriously reconsider retaining India as a cruise ship destination of choice.
Ports information: Information on the ports visited was minimal and in some cases inaccurate. Ship shore excursions were, to our mind, pushed far too aggressively with virtually no alternative information being offered to help passengers to tour on their own. The docking location in many of the ports visited also necessitated taking a shuttle or taxi to get to the downtown areas. It appeared that Celebrity made no effort to lay on appropriate shuttle facilities notwithstanding the remote location of the docking pier to the actual port of call in most instances. If India is to remain a cruise destination, cruise ship companies need to seriously investigate alternative, more accessible cruise ports to visit.
Indian ports: Apart from Mumbai which we thought was an impressive city, we were disappointed in the other ports visited on the Indian leg of the cruise.
We did a ship excursion in Cochin that included a ferry ride to the unique fishing nets as the highlight but was largely a waste of time as we had better views of the nets on the sail in to the port earlier that morning!
In Mangalore we opted to do our own thing as none of the ship’s excursions seemed that appealing. We took a taxi to downtown Mangalore – absolutely disgusting and filthy. Damaged and overgrown sidewalks with stinking litter and garbage strewn about everywhere. Amazingly, one of the ship’s excursions was “Downtown Mangalore on your own”! We frankly question whether anyone from Celebrity’s management had actually taken the time to visit downtown Mangalore. Had they done so they surely could not have marketed this as a recommended shore excursion?
The highlight of our Mangalore experience was a hair raising, white knuckle tuk-tuk ride back to the ship where our driver literally raced another tuk-tuk through the congested, pothole ridden street at high speed. Although potentially dangerous we somehow felt relatively safe throughout the journey. Quite an exhilarating experience!
We shared a taxi with a delightful Australian couple for a private tour of Goa which included visits to a couple of churches (that we could not visit internally as Palm Sunday services were underway during the time of our visit), plus a ride through the relatively bland countryside to visit some of Goa’s amazing beaches. We were impressed with the potential of Goa – with a bit of entrepreneurial vision and of course a large cash investment, Goa could, in our view, easily become a tropical paradise that could compete with Mauritius, the Seychelles and the Caribbean.
Mumbai was really impressive and interesting. The ship’s excursion, where we had an exceptionally knowledgeable tour guide, gave us a good insight into the city, its history and customs. Visits to the Gandhi museum, and exposure to the incredible “lunchbox” delivery service (that amazingly achieves six sigma status) and the unique laundry facility were notable highlights.
Although admittedly, we only had a snapshot of India, nothing prepared us for the squalor, filth, litter, poverty and environmental degradation in the ports and cities we visited, with the possible exception of the city of Mumbai. Downtown areas of the ports included in this itinerary (apart from Mumbai) had very little to offer making it almost mandatory to take a costly ship excursion or private tour to see the sights in the immediate hinterland and even then, if our taxi tour of the Goa area is anything to go by, is equally depressing from an environmental sustainability perspective
Overall, we enjoyed the cruise immensely. The cruise days were relaxing especially the four days at the commencement of the cruise that allowed us to unwind before taking on the rigours of India! While we were appalled at the abject poverty and squalor of many places in India, we were nonetheless humbled by the experience of visiting this vast, culturally diverse land and amazed by the resolve, fortitude and spirit of its people despite the conditions under which many of them live.
After the cruise we spent a further four days in Dubai experiencing this wonder of the modern world. Initial impressions of the city are breath-taking. It is hard to imagine that Dubai itself was an underdevelopment minor settlement in the barren desert until oil was discovered in the region less than fifty years ago. Since then the development of Dubai has been rapid and massive. We were overawed by the splendour and architectural diversity of the massive skyscrapers that adorn its impressive skyline and by the engineering ingenuity of many of its manmade marvels such as the Palm Jumeirah, the Marina and the towering Burj Khalifa. Development seems to have no bounds and shortly before we left Dubai the Prime Minister announced a further AED 14 billion was to be injected into new developments in the next five years. The sheer over the top opulence of the city was indeed something of a culture shock after the poverty we were exposed to in India.
Yet, despite the magnificence of its architecture and structures we were left with the impression that the monument to capitalist excesses modern Dubai represents somehow lacked soul. We much preferred the old part of the city where our hotel was situated overlooking the Deira Creek.
Getting around Dubai is easy with their extensive system of buses, taxis, subways, monorails and water taxis. However, as this was our first time in Dubai we opted for one of the two Hop-on, Hop-off buses to get a feel for the city. Our two day ticket gave us access to all four routes the system offers enabling us to visit most of the major highlights of both the old city and newer Dubai such as the gold, spice and textile souks, many of their huge malls (Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates), the Dubai fountain and Burj Khalifa precinct, the magic Garden, Marina and Palm Jumeirah areas and the Dubai Museum.
We also did the obligatory cruise of the Deira Creek and a desert safari that included an exciting dune bashing experience followed by a traditional dinner in a canned so-called Bedouin camp. Interesting but a bit too commercialised to our liking.
All in all a great vacation. We had always had India and Dubai on our bucket list so we can now tick off a few more boxes. As Dubai is a convenient transport hub for us South Africans, we will probably visit Dubai again. We may not be so enthusiastic to revisit India but it was an experience we are glad we have been able to undertake. It has certainly given us a new perspective on some of the similar issues we face in southern Africa.
A final note. We were saddened to learn that the Chinese consortium that has bought the Century apparently intends to convert this beautiful ship into a floating casino. This is a travesty. The Century frankly deserves a more dignified retirement!
We set sail from Singapore on the President's cruise visiting Vietnam, Hong Kong, Philippines and Sabah.
The cruise itself was wonderful with the usual great service from Celebrity staff on board. We certainly enjoyed the ... Read More
We set sail from Singapore on the President's cruise visiting Vietnam, Hong Kong, Philippines and Sabah.
The cruise itself was wonderful with the usual great service from Celebrity staff on board. We certainly enjoyed the 'extra's provided for this special cruise inlcuding the special dinner within the Imperial Citadel in Hue. We appreciated all the work that went into the evening and it was unfortunate it was rainined out half way through the evening. A big applause to Captain's Club for all the extras provided.
We knew that the Century was an older ship at the end of her time with Celebrity but still found the cruise to be enjoyable.
The only complaints were:
**** We had been advised by Celebrity Australia to obtain visa's for Vietnam prior to leaving home. These were obtained at the Consulate in Sydney at a cost of $90 per person. We were most annoyed to find these were offered onboard for $6 per person. Exact information should be provided prior to embarkation.
**** The rudeness of some of the other cruisers especially to staff. We consider ourselves to be seasoned cruisers but would say this is the worst we have ever encountered. It would seem that some people dont know the difference between servers and servants. Many times we witnessed an appalling absence of basic please and thank you, The pushing and shoving to get food at the buffet was disgraceful....dont forget to pack your manners folks. No excuse for rude behaviour.
We are not novice cruisers, having sailed with Celebrity before, as well as with Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Holland America. Never before have we had cause to complain about anything but this was a new and different ... Read More
We are not novice cruisers, having sailed with Celebrity before, as well as with Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Holland America. Never before have we had cause to complain about anything but this was a new and different experience......
First, the good news: Considering the age of the Century she is in very nice condition. (We learned that this was the last cruise as a Celebrity ship; she was being sold to the Chinese.) The style is a little more traditional compared to the more modern vessels, but it has its charms. The staff were very courteous and attentive, especially the wait-staff in the Grand Dining Room; exemplary and well deserving of praise. The entertainment was good. The food was mostly excellent and the variety available in the "Islands" restaurant was quite impressive. Top marks to all the food staff in all dining rooms!
NOW THE BAD NEWS:
All in all, the cruise might have been an enjoyable experience. Or it would have been had we not been assigned Stateroom 8229 which was at the very aft end of the ship in close proximity to the propellers and associated mechanical functions. We learned soon enough that this was a poor location - while under way the noise level and vibrations were bad enough to keep us awake at night; articles placed on the small tables next to the bed would vibrate off the tables and crash onto the floor! Two weeks of sleep deprivation can really color your opinion..... Of course, we complained to Guest Services in short order; they were sympathetic but were "unable to do anything; no alternate availability....". After about ten days of sleepless nights I again confronted Guest Services and let it be known that the situation was intolerable. Again, a "sympathetic" response and an offer of small compensation. Not good enough. I let it be known that I would take this to the highest levels of Celebrity corporate management. Shortly thereafter I was contacted by a "supervisor" with whom I was able to negotiate a more realistic compensation. And I learned that this was not the first such complaint that they had dealt with. I do believe that they were doing their best to help, BUT.... I learned that on the next segment of the cruise (following our departure) they had booked someone into the same stateroom. The bottom line here is that Celebrity has no business inflicting such a stateroom on paying customers.... But then again, this was to be the last cruise, so who cares? Apparently not Celebrity. Yes indeed, two weeks of sleepless nights can color your opinion - to the extent that we shall be a little more careful about whom we cruise with in future.....
We have recently returned from a 2 week cruise to Asia and sadly we were disappointed . We knew that the century was being sold very soon and had read on cc that she was becoming a bit tired but we were not expecting to have maintenance ... Read More
We have recently returned from a 2 week cruise to Asia and sadly we were disappointed . We knew that the century was being sold very soon and had read on cc that she was becoming a bit tired but we were not expecting to have maintenance taking place all around. Obviously some degree of care has to be done but the amount taking place daily was extreme to say the least, if it doesn't move paint it or varnish it seemed the order of the day in fact on several occasions my husband had to warn people that handrails etc were wet as there was no warning signs. Apparently for our comfort and convenience is was thought ok to close half of the island restaurant so that they could lay new carpet why couldn't they have done that during the night or at least while in one of the ports. The worst incident was when they closed half of the sun deck adjoining the island restaurant putting all the smoking and non smoking tables together and then proceeded to with a very big machine to sand the deck at LUNCH TIME it took 4 complaints from my husband before it was finally stopped. We understand that all this work was being done because the CEO was boarding the ship for one of her last cruises, we hope he has a lovely time at the expense of our holiday and not a cheap one either. It has to be said that all the bar, restaurant , butlers (than you Kimberley) and housekeeping were all wonderful and were always very helpful and pleasant its a pity this cant be said for the officers who seemed to have a don't care attitude. The food in the restaurant was without exception very good at both breakfast and lunch . We have for the last 3 years cruised with Azamara there is no comparison Azamara are streets ahead its a shame we didn't choose there cruise instead but the celebrity dates suited us better . We had a sky suite which was fine it had a lovely large balcony with a table 2 chairs and 2 loungers a shame that the cushions were filthy as were most of the windows on the ship in fact our neighbour said the windows in the gym you couldn't see out appalling. When we returned from the cruise I emailed Celebrity with our comments as yet I have had no reply very poor customer service.
We sailed on the 2/7 cruise out of Singapore--started with an overnight in port. We had previously sailed with Century on a back to back in 2013 out of San Diego and enjoyed the ship and ports very much.
We sailed on the 2/7 cruise out of Singapore--started with an overnight in port. We had previously sailed with Century on a back to back in 2013 out of San Diego and enjoyed the ship and ports very much.
Most people know that the ship is completing its final cruises before transitioning to a new ownership with a Chinese cruise company. We found the cruise to be excellent in many ways with only a few shortcomings--nothing major.
First the bad part--I had not looked at the cabin position (4105) and it turned out we were underneath the kitchen area of Murano--so late at night there was a lot of bumping/grinding/noise level that woke us up. Ear plugs solved the problem for the remainder of the cruise but during sea days it could be a little annoying. The Guest Relations folks were very attentive but I didn't think they could keep the crew from doing their work so I only complained 1x.
Food: We loved it and there was a lot of variety at the buffet and the dining room service and food were excellent. If there was a main dish we didn't like they removed it, brought what you wanted and the captain of the section came over to understand what was not to your liking--we thought the meat and fish were of good quality, temperature and taste.
Beverages: We had the classic package and it worked out fine--no complaints or concerns about what was available. Didn't see a need to upgrade on this cruise-
Ports: This cruise was on the list because of Myanmar which was wonderful. We did independent tours in all ports so can't comment about the ship's offerings.
Crew: In a word--fantastic--everyone was so friendly, including the officers, the cruise director was probably the best we have ever had and the activities, room attendants, wait staff, etc were all great. Hope to see them on a future Celebrity cruise--
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