It was cruise no. 47. We went before on HAL's EURODAM and WESTERDAM and had some concerns. We made already the experience that you CAN make very good experiences with HAL but also few single items ended in a desaster. We loved the Signature-/Vista-Class Ships and had some concerns before because the price of the balconies was extremely high.
Furthermore we booked originally Hong Kong - Kobe but they just changed the itinerary without notification. You learned about the changes in cruisecritic.com or when you were wondering where your booking dissappeared to.
My parents (end 70s) went with us. So we know that HAL has a certain infra-structure for this range of ages.
Hotel Info (if any)
We booked the Inter-Continental in Singapore ourselves. Great hotel. We liked it.
Well - we really had concerns going on board since we already read some bad reviews on cruisecritic.com. But we were nicely surprised how good the ship's condition was. We had a great space ratio and we had only minor problems in our cabin which mostly were solved within hours. We loved the ship. When you are used to travel on Vista-/Signature-Class Ships you miss some options. But maybe it was only because of the length of the cruise.
I loved the musicians on the stage but also in the bars and lounges. Especially the bar pianist James Blackmon and the Adagio Strings. The shows were too old-fashioned for my flavour. Once the CD announced: "The music your parents and grandparents loved" - well I am mid 40s but it was more for my friend's parents and grandparents and he is mid 60s!!! We had no chance to participate other major activities but the M&G with the facebook and cruisecritic.com-members.
99% outstanding-fantastic-cordial-personal-wonderful etc.
1% idiots you always have on ships (like giving 4 pieces of candy for a table of 6)
Three samples for outstanding service:
1. we had so many vouchers for the Pinnacle Grill and asked instead for a beverage value card and they did.
2. we asked for a dragon fruit and someone walked up to the Lido and got it for us in the MDR.
3. a port call was cancelled due to weather conditions and so my birthday party which I paid was just gone. But they give me a table in the Pinnacle Grill for lunch and dinner so I had a wonderful day onboard.
Port & Shore Excursions
Because of the size of our group and the high prices we arranged all tours ourselves.
Singapore - Singapore Flyer - Ducktours - honestly it was too hot and too humid to do anything. Just stayed at the hotel.
Koh Somui - Half Day Tour on the island
Laem Chabang - First day: Bangkok highlights with delivery to the airport
We flew to Siem Reap to stay there two nights for Angkor Wat.
For this arrangement we paid about 500 USD per person while the ship wanted more than 3,000 USD pp for their arrangement.
We flew to Phnom Penh and had a small tour there before we returned to Sihanoukville to join the ship.
Phu My - Tour to Saigon but with some desaster and stolen iPhone
Nha Trang - was cancelled due to weather condition
Sanya - We had a private tour as we had independent visa
Halong Bay - I became my own Hotel and Cruise Director... We chartered a junk incl. two cabins so my parents could rest. So we could stay after sunset.
Hong Kong - I did one day Macao and the 2nd day Ladies' Street, Aberdeen and tram ride and finally Victoria Peak.
Here you find pictures of our tours and more detailed information in this cruisecritic.com-Thread:
Excellent: so many things were 120%. So what was good was really good. But what was bad (especially outside SOP) it was really bad.
Travel To Port of Embarkation
We were lucky as Lufthansa sold for 1,111 EUR business class tickets on November 11, 2011. So it was a perfect way to travel to the port as it was an Airbus 380.
Wonderful - due to location easy access to promenade and larger than standard rooms. We loved it: 2715 - and it was so cheap as it was sold as obstructed view but we did not feel like in one.
It was good. Due to the length of cruise towards the end of the cruise I had the wish to have something different. Terrible the new "healthy" low fat cream they used. I loved their desserts before but with the new cream it was terrible.
Best was the Pinnacle Grill - the lunch was wonderful. But I had only once chance to get access. Wondering how other get the tables as they never advertised for them for lunch. Two dinners: just outstanding - especially the service.
Le Cirque: due to the high level of Pinnacle Grill it could not meet my expectations and was just a disappointment - although the food was good. But as said: due the performance you get in the Pinnacle Grill itself, Le Cirque is a big disappointment as the cover charge is 39.00 USD pp.
We did not used.
Smooth - but very crowd due to fascilities.
But anyhow we want to have the good things again that we accept all bad things: so the next HAL cruise is booked.
Pictures of the cruise and detailed comments can be found in this thread:
I think the best cabin you can get. Our room war larger than standard and we had a good shower instead of a tiny bath tub. Great location with easy access to promenade. Was calmer than we expected so noises around was acceptable.