We booked this cruise because of the variety of port of calls in a region of the world we didn't really know. We spent a few days in Singapore before boarding, had a chance to scope out the cruise terminal ahead of time. Therefore, our embarkation went very smoothly.
We didn't have anything to complain about with the ship or our cabin. We tend to carry our luggage onboard and had no problems with that. We could settle quickly. Food in the dining room and the Lido was good, though service was somewhat slow in the dining room. Entertainment was generaly good when it was the dancers and singers, except for one singer that I didn't like much. The other entertainers were OK. Activities on sea days were the usual shopping/games/casino stuff that we don't partake in. We did like Dr. Kam with his talk about China and Hong Kong though I wish that he had different presentations for the second part of the cruise. Service was perfect throughout the ship. We loved the itinerary but, in some ports of call, we docked far from the actual destination. In these cases, it was difficult to travel independently but we managed and had great adventures in the process. A main complaint with Holland America is the excessive price of their excursions and the lack of information provided to independant travellers by their team. Still, we had a great time and will travel again with HAL.
We had reserved a car with driver to take us to Bangkok, 2 and half hours away. We stayed overnight as we were visiting freinds. We used Oriental Escape, prepaid round trip cost us 5,300 Baht ($160).
We joined a tour organized by another CC member for a visit to Namuan falls, an elephant ride, visit to the Mountain Buddha and to the Grandfather Rock, all in open truck. It was a lot of fun and we saw a lot in a short time. This is a tender port.View All 11 4WD Jeep Jungle Tour Reviews
We spent a few days in Singapore. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Clarke Quay. It has a wonderful subway system that is easy to use. We bought a 3-day EZ Tourist pass at the airport for S$30 with unlimited use for subway and buses. We found a tourist office on Orchard Road with very good information and helpful staff.
We took the free shuttle provided by the city to the central market. Though the ship was in port until 9:00PM, the last shuttle back was much earlier: 4PM if I remember correctly. Tuk-tuk drivers surround the bus when it arrives trying to get customers. You can negociate fair prices. For us, it was enough time. We took a tuk-tuk around town and it took us to 2 temples and 3 beaches, which are the highlights of the town. The market was an experience as well!
The port provided a shuttle to town, which is 20mn away from the port. We visited the Da Nang museum that was very well done with a lot of English explanation.
This is a tender port. As we got off the boat, there were vendors for Jonk cruises everywhere. Once you agree on a price, they take you by minivan to the port for departure and take yo back after the cruise. We had a very nice 3-hour cruise of the area with a stop at one of the caves. Later in the day, we took a taxi to the center of town for $5 and explore the markets and the area. Beautiful scenery!
We docked in town, near the Bund. Since we'd been to Shanghai before, we took the bullet train to Suzhou on the first day. We needed our passport to buy our tickets at a manned ticket office. Foreigners cannot use the ticket machines. The second day, we visited areas of Shanghai we hadn't seen. It has a great subway system, easy to use and safe.
The port is 2 hours away from Seoul. The immigration officials were late to start passenger face-to-face clearance so we stayed in Incheon. There was a shuttle bus to the center of town. Cute town.
The ship docked in Tianjin, a commercial port 2 to 3 hours away from Beijing. We decided to stay in Tianjin. There was a free shuttle from the ship to the closest subway station 40 minutes away. The subway was easy to use and clean but it took 1 hour to get into Tianjin proper. Tianjin is a huge city and we had a lot to explore.
This is a great port of call but we didn't enough time, only half a day. On top of that, immigration was very slow. We arrived at Noon but we didn't get through immigration until 2:30PM. I heard that some people didn't get through until 4:00PM. We visited the Atomic Bomb museum and the peace garden. The museum is well done.
There was a free shuttle from the ship to Sakurachima ferry terminal. We bought a transit pass that gave us access to the ferries to the volcano island and unlimited ride on public buses. We went on the island and took a public bus around the volcano for a view of the crater still spewing smoke.