The reason DH and I decided to book a cruise departing from Singapore, was the Piano festival that was held in Singapore and DH wanted to visit. We decided to combine a visit to this festival with a cruise and the timings and itinerary of this cruise fit perfectly. It also gave me (a big cruise fan) a chance to sail on Princess, which was one of the only main cruise lines I had not sailed on yet.
We flew from Amsterdam to Singapore on KLM on Friday March 4. Great flight and we arrived without any problems in Singapore on Saturday March 5.
We booked the Southbridge hotel in Chinatown to spend the night. It is a basic hotel in a good location and an easy train ride on the metro from the airport.
We had booked a Balcony Guarantee; however, a few days before our cruise departed, we still had not been assigned a cabin. I checked on the Rollcall for our cruise and I read that the ship was overbooked and some people had received move-over offer. 2 days before our flight to Singapore, I received an email from our travel agent to say Princess asked us to move to an unobstructed Oceanview cabin, but we would be refunded the whole amount we had paid for the cruise. I was a bit hesitant at first, because I had always booked a balcony cabin on previous cruises, but DH had no doubts and convinced me to take the deal. And I have to say… it was a great decision! The location of the cabin was excellent! We were in Cabin P318, which is very near the Piazza with the International Café and the bar. Great for those morning coffees and breakfast in bed. It was also close to the Churchill lounge on the fiesta deck. This is the indoor Cigar bar, so easy for DH to go there for a quick smoke. It was also a quiet location and the furniture in the cabin was arranged in such a way, it seemed we had more space than we would have had in a balcony! We would book this cabin again in a heartbeat.
I also liked the walk-in closet space and the On-demand TV.
This is not near Bangkok, but actually a 2-hour drive away from it (depending on traffic)! Therefore, if you plan on going to Bangkok on this cruise, you best book your transport with the Shore Excursion desk. This way, if you are stuck in traffic, the ship will wait for you. There is a Shore excursion that only offers transportation to and from Bangkok and lets you explore the city on your own.
Alternatively, you can take a bus to Pattaya, which is only a 30 minutes’ drive away from the port. You cannot book this bus before your cruise. During the cruise, you will receive a request form in your cabin for transportation to Pattaya. If you want to use it, you fill out the form and put it in the Shore Excursion mailbox. You will receive your tickets the night before you arrive in Laem Chabang and a bus will be waiting for you when you exit the terminal building.
Off course you can decide to stay in port, but if you want to leave the ship, please bear in mind Laem Chabang is an industrial port, so not much to do and nowhere to go…
We went to meet DH’s ex-boss who had been relocated to Bangkok by his company. He had to be in Pattaya for business anyway and decided to come early to meet us there.
We took the bus to Pattaya, which was quick and comfortable. Our bus actually broke down on the way there, but before we had a chance to get worried, another, empty bus, had arrived to pick us up, so we could continue our journey. I was very impressed by this efficient solution!
We were dropped off at a nice hotel on the boulevard, where we could go to take the bus back as well.
I have to say, the lunch with DH’s ex-boss was very pleasant, good food, excellent company. However, Pattaya is not the nicest place you can find in Thailand.
When we walked to the restaurant to meet our lunch-date we saw many loud bars, shops, billboards, neon lights and people. Not a place to go for a bit of peace and quiet, but if you are looking for a party, this might be the place for you. I think we also saw more American Food chains then authentic Thai food. We ate at the Pattaya Beer Garden, which was very nice. The food was good, and the location (on a pier above the ocean) was even better.
However, to get to the restaurant, you had to walk through a bar, which was closed during the day, but was clearly offering some different style of entertainment during the night, judging by the boxing rings spread throughout the bar.
If you continue on walking along the boulevard, with the ocean on your right hand side, you will get to the (in)famous “Walking street”, the red-light district of Pattaya. During the day, it does not look that special, with lots of tourist shops and a few restaurants. However, during the night, it turns into the biggest party place in Thailand. Since we had to get back to the ship, we did not get to experience that.
We did not feel like taking a tour, so decided to go and have a look around ourselves. We had a leisurely breakfast while we waited for the crowds to disappear at the tender docking station. When there was no queue, we took the tender to Nathon pier, leaving behind our home away from home…
The small town is quite touristy, with all your normal tourist shops and a few bars. You can stock up on things you need at the 7-Eleven and catch some Wi-Fi at Coffee Island, the first bar you see on your left-hand side when you leave the pier.
It is not a pretty town, so we had a walk around and went back on the ship.
We spend a few more days in Singapore after we got off the ship. We stayed at a friend’s place who took us around Singapore to show us the sights. One of the nices places we went to was Supertree Grove. It is an area near the Marina that has these amazing (artificial) trees that light up in the evening for a show with music and lights. Very nice to go there. It also has a botanical garden and a foodcourt.
Another nice place is the Marina Bay sands hotel. It is quite a distinct building with, what seems to be a replica of a ship on top of it. We did not go there, but a colleague of mine took his wife to the roof-top terrace for a drink and he said it was very nice!