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Mariner of the Seas Review

5.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating
1262 reviews
4 Awards

I've provided particualr details on tours and tour guides

Review for Mariner of the Seas to Asia
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Johndenis
2-5 Cruises • Age 40s

Rating by category

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Additional details

Sail Date: Oct 2016
Cabin: Superior Oceanview Stateroom with Balcony
Traveled with children

I got a bit freaked out about Visa Stuff in the run up, wondering if I should have applied for anything but it was all fine (I have an Irish passport and my wife and son have GB ones). We had seen some reports of the cruise food and entertainment being aimed towards a Chinese audience but I didn't agree with that. I think the food however was just OK - did the formal dining on a couple of nights and the quality wasn't great. Desserts were always terrible! The entertainment isn't great but I don't think it has a particularly Chinese influence - there is a covers band called I think "Lotus" who were really pretty ropey and looked very depressed. The "cinema" is tiny and they should really have even a small pool that babies are allowed into as I felt sorry for my son not being able to have a paddle, but there was a decent wee play room for him. The gym was great. The staff were all lovely and really tolerant of our baby.

I've set out some thoughts on each port of call below which will hopefully be helpful. Thanks to all the great people who post on the forms here and helped me assemble knowledge.

Shanghai. There were fixed prices indicated at the airport rank for taxis into the city. I booked a tour of the French Concession with Noodle Walking Tours. The tour was just OK I think. It also ended earlier than I expected and my subsequent request for a part-refund was initially accepted, then follow-up emails trying to arrange the refund were ignored, which made me feel like I had been ripped off. With hindsight we should probably have arranged to just spend more time near or on The Bund, which is breath-taking at both day and night. We got a taxi from the hotel to the cruise ferry on the meter. Guys at your hotel may try to sell you over priced "executive" international port transfers. Don't bother. From memory the taxi we got was about 60 yuan, we gave the bell hop a tip and I am pretty sure he then told the taxi driver not to inflate his price!

Cabin Review

Superior Oceanview Stateroom with Balcony

Cabin D1

We had a cabin with a balcony and while we hardly used it (we had our 1 year old son with us) it was nice to have the natural light and a breeze.

Port Reviews

Shanghai

There were fixed prices indicated at the airport rank for taxis into the city. I booked a tour of the French Concession with Noodle Walking Tours. The tour was just OK I think. It also ended earlier than I expected and my subsequent request for a part-refund was initially accepted, then follow-up emails trying to arrange the refund were ignored, which made me feel like I had been ripped off. With hindsight we should probably have arranged to just spend more time near or on The Bund, which is breath-taking at both day and night. We got a taxi from the hotel to the cruise ferry on the meter. Guys at your hotel may try to sell you over priced "executive" international port transfers. Don't bother. From memory the taxi we got was about 60 yuan, we gave the bell hop a tip and I am pretty sure he then told the taxi driver not to inflate his price!

Hong Kong

We booked a personal tour walking through Laura at Hello Hong Kong (bookings@hellohongkong.com.hk). Prices are clearly stated on their site. Niya was our guide and was absolutely excellent. No doubt other tours are cheaper, but if you have already paid thousands of pounds and travelled a huge distance and only have 1 day in Hong Kong, it's a false economy to not get the best tour you possibly can.

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Zoom Dung (dungzoom@gmail.com) moved us around Saigon in an air conditioned car with military precision for $230. Particular highlights were an iced coffee on the roof of the Rex Hotel, the spring rolls at lunch, and bartering at the market. I have seen Zoom described as a "real character" on here and I think that's a nice description. He had trouble with my accent and could seem kind of abrupt - but he was also very likeable. The rain on the way back to the boat was again "biblical". Wonderful place though.

Singapore

My wife had been before and we also had several days at the end of the cruise, so we didn't bother with a tour. You must definitely go to the Zoo, Gardens by the Bay, and also the hawker market in Chinatown for food. We stayed at Grand Park City Hall which I was very pleased with. Taxis in Singapore are all metred but one thing to watch out for at the ferry terminal is getting an "executive" car to your hotel (the people carrier things). It was really really expensive. We managed to just fit everything in a normal taxi on the way to the airport - the driver actually seemed to like the challenge.

Da Nang

We didn't have fixed plans for here. I think we had intended to get the cruise-organised excursion to the heritage town of Hoi An but decided against it when we realised it would mean 2 hours in a coach there and back. So we decided to just go for it and emerged at Chan May port (it's pretty much a bunch of shacks) with no local currency and hardly any taxi drivers about! There was luckily one working ATM and we negotiated with a lady who could speak English was waiting outside the terminal. We agreed a cost of $45 for a return trip - maybe a bit expensive but we hadn't done our homework. The driver communicated with us via Google Translate. We paid him when he returned us to the ferry. Even with the taxi driver rocketing along the journey still took about 45 mins each way. The weather took an incredible turn for the worse (biblical thunderstorm) and with hindsight we were probably lucky to get back to the boat. The long beach area looked good (had it been sunny, not a monsoon) and we got some incredible bargains on trainers and sportswear.

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