We chose this cruise mainly because we wanted to get back on the sea, have a decent length of time and because the mini-suites were priced exceptionally well for this cruise. We got a great deal.
Overall this was a great cruise – the sea was mostly calm with very few rough days, the weather was good to beautiful most days, the staff were mostly good, the food was everything from okay to wonderful and the experience was very enjoyable – especially the mini-suite experience on these Sun class ships, where the room configuration is superior to other mini-suites. I was pretty excited about having a bath at sea in rocky waters. I did get to do this eventually but it wasn't as weird as I was expecting.
In addition, I always love travelling on the Sun class ships because of the excellent promenade. I didn’t exactly come back new, but I came back relaxed and content with the cruise, so that’s a good outcome.
That said, there were some issues with this cruise that made it slightly less satisfactory than previous experiences and I will outline them here.
While I was pleased with the itinerary when I first booked the cruise, investigation revealed that of the 11 ports, 6 were troublesome. 3 ports were way too far from the cities they claimed to visit (Bangkok (Laem Chabang), Ho Chi Mihn City (Phu My), Kuala Lumpur (Port Kelang)) and another three required tendering (Bali (Benoa), Lombok and Koh Samui). In addition, most stops in port were quite short and I found this very annoying – especially if the next port was 5 hours away by ferry and yet we were leaving at 4.30pm. Why? I thought we should have had an overnight at Singapore too. Phu My was particularly annoying because I read that ships used to dock at Vung Tau. I so much would have preferred that.
2) Shore Tours
The shore tours were, in general, not that great for both legs of our cruise. I mostly had to book ‘on your own’ type tours because of distance and lack of decent choices. Most tours seemed to involve long time wasting Westernised buffet lunches, visits to craft centres I wasn’t interested in or souvenir shops I just didn’t care about. I would have much preferred some decent snorkelling options or some tours where you visit 3 cool things and then have a decent amount of time on your own. But as mentioned above, this was hard because so many ports were too far from the action and the time in port was quite curtailed. Also there were not many options for more local tours or if tours were offered, they seemed very limited. Though Siem Reap was mentioned somewhere when I was booking, this cruise offered no overland overnight tours to Siem Reap, which was disappointing. It turns out to be a very difficult place to visit in terms of getting to and getting from Siem Reap without missing too many cruise days so we didn't bother trying to visit.
3) A perceived drop in some standards. I felt that the cabin staff were not as prompt and reliable as previously and they did not explain and go over the features of the room and some of the bar staff were abrupt (Might have had something to do with the passengers). In addition, crème brulee no longer seemed to be offered as a dessert and I missed those – much healthier than cakes and anyway, I don’t care much for cakes.
4) Other passengers. There were a lot of kids on this cruise as it was school holidays. I won’t make that mistake again! But anyway, being school holidays, there were a lot of kids and a proportion of those children had parents who really didn’t care what they did. They did some terrible things. I don’t even like to mention some of what I heard in case it wasn’t true, but they definitely had a kid or kids purposefully poop in the pool 3 times, leading to some inconvenience for every single person who likes using the pool. I heard worse things concerning poop too. I haven’t cruised with so many kids before and now I know why so many people don’t want to cruise with kids (not that they were all bad, but the whole cruise in general would have been nicer if the bad ones weren’t onboard). In addition, there was the usual Aussie crowd of pursed lips and sour expressions to contend with. You'd think Australians have a much worse time on holidays than they do at home if you judged them by their cruise faces.
5) Tendering process: I can never understand how a ship can tender so often and still stuff up the process again and again. We had great tendering in Lombok despite using only ship’s tenders, and terrible tendering experiences in Koh Samui and Bali. Maybe changes to staff at Singapore explains it? But anyway, it went from a well run process to a terrible boring burden. The ship sailed almost 3 hours late from Bali because, even though they had previously experienced rubbish getting caught in the tender propellers, they did not book enough extra help from the shore until halfway through the morning. Even then it wasn’t enough – people had to queue for hours. Koh Samui was better but they had some really inexperienced tender drivers working and it made the trip and the docking at each end nearly unbearable – they were so slow, they had to try to dock so many times! The local guys were just driving up to the dock/ship and tying up, no problems.
6) The in room entertainment and communication systems really need an upgrade. Also the big screen on deck 14 seemed a bit outdated and not as functional as on other Sun class ships, though I could just have flawed memories from previous ships. The in room movies should be on demand and it would be great if a channel ran text of the captains and other announcements.
7) Not enough good chocolate available at the shop! And overpriced too! Remember, as always, to stock up on everything you might want before you get on the ship!
That’s about it. I list these things but must reiterate, I enjoyed the cruise, my cabin, the dining room and staff and various ship features. It was a good cruise! I spent most days feeling just great about everything.
I mention the above for others who are considering the Treasures of Asia itineraries – just be aware of where the ports are and what ships tours are available when you decide to book! If you are wanting to actually see and spend significant time in these cities, maybe visit them another way. If you are wanting a nice warm cruise in fairly sedate oceans with some short visits to interesting places, it’s a good cruise.
This is a good cabin. A couple of small issues - if in heavy seas, the velcro that holds the shower door shut isn't strong enough and it bangs every now and then, which can be annoying. Also, the cabin is quite near where the steward parks the cart for room refreshing which can be annoying - sometimes it feels like someone is always outside your door. Otherwise, it is quiet and very pleasant.
Fremantle is a great place to visit - lots of nice places to eat and things to see and do. A lot of Australian colonial history in the area.
We booked our own snorkelling tour to Gili Nanggu before we sailed and we had an excellent day snorkelling the Gilis in the next harbour. Lombok was one of the places we really had a great day. I was surprised that Princess did not utilise the port location to offer more nearby snorkelling type tours. Perhaps there are no operators that meet the standards?
We visited Batu Caves which was great. I would have liked to spend more time there. I have to warn - the steps to the caves are really steep. I felt muscles I didn't even know I had. We then went on to visit the Royal Selangor Pewter factory and a museum and had a buffet lunch. To be honest, I could have done without any of that, but, that was the tour. Others seemed to enjoy it just fine. The museum was small - I was quite surprised by that.View All 20 Batu Caves Reviews
Penang was a great port - you walk off the boat and you are right in the action. I enjoyed the port. We self toured and caught a hop on hop off bus. Not sure I would do that again - it was way too slow. I think next time I would pick where I wanted to go and then jump in a taxi, or else do a half day/short ships tour and then do my own thing in the ship area. There was a lot to see and do!
The Mangrove Tour was really nice but I was a bit disappointed they bothered with a buffet lunch and would have much preferred to just do the tour and then be dropped off at Underwater World and get a ship's shuttle back to the ship. Langkawi was great - self touring would be easy there. In future I would just organise my own tour.View All 10 Mangrove Cruise Reviews
Singapore is a wonderful place to visit - even if only from 7-5pm. We walked to the MRT from the ship (about 5-10 mins) and bought tickets (pretty easy to work out and staff at the station speak English too) to Gardens by the Bay and visited those (spectacular) and then the Marina Bay Sands Sky Park (wonderful views), then caught the MRT into town to have a Singapore Sling at Rafferty's hotel, then walked (I don't know why we walked!) to the river to go on a bum boat and see the Merlion. We managed to get off at Marina Bay Sands and go in there to get some food (Kawa toast - yum!) and enjoy the air conditioned shopping mall and then we returned to the ship. It was a good day. There is so much to do there - so many good days to be had.
The tour was basically a bus ride into Ho Chi Minh city - you then did your own thing. I'm rating it as average because it was only 4.5 hours and not nearly enough time - though the distance of the port makes any longer difficult. It really is a 1.5 hour ride to Ho Chi Minh. The Phu My port is not really satisfactory. I wish ships still docked at Vung Tau.View All 104 City Tour Reviews
We caught the ship's shuttle to the local market - not a great market but interesting. We then caught a tuk tuk (very overpriced) to Sokha Beach Resort and ate a delicious meal, swam in the warm ocean on the lovely beach and also utlised the pool for a fee of $20 per person. It was a nice day. The hotel gives you free Wifi too.
My review may be a bit unfair because I didn't get off the ship at this port - Bangkok is probably wonderful, but I'm not going to find that out if the ship docks at Laem Chabang because 2.5 hours each way is ridiculous. I'll visit some other time.
I'm rating this tour as average because, again, it was simply a ride to and from Chaweng Beach and the time onshore was just too short. It wasn't even a terribly long drive either. Chaweng Beach itself was interesting - the beach is beautiful and there are many resorts where one can have a nice meal with great views. I really liked Koh Samui as a destination and plan to visit again.View All undefined undefined Reviews
I'm giving this an average rating because it was only a short drive to Kuta but the time was really limited. This could have been a much longer tour. Kuta beach was lovely, it was an interesting area - very commercialised I suppose but I enjoyed the visit.View All undefined undefined Reviews