We had never sailed on HA and had heard good things about this cruise line, so when a Dec cruise to Asia came up with ports we had never been to but wanted to see, we jumped at the chance to be a part of this experience.
First off, the crew and staff for the most part were great - very friendly, helpful and accommodating. In addition to the destinations, they were the best part of the cruise!
1. our cabin - it looked good, but the air conditioning never worked so it was always 75°F or more, in countries that were already uncomfortably hot and humid. The staff were vigilant in trying to fix the problem but were not successful. Also, there was a leak somewhere that left a wet area outside our bathroom for the entire 2 weeks. To remedy the problem, a large, loud fan that blew hot air onto the spot was brought in, but as our cabin was already too warm, we sent the fan away after a few hours.
2. public areas - meanwhile, the hallways and public rooms (bars, theater, restaurants, library, etc.) were freezing cold, which other passengers also complained about. That finally got fixed on our last 2 days on board. It's a wonder that we didn't catch a cold.
3. the food - the food at the Lido and in the dining room was bland for our tastes (being foodies from SF who are 65+) and seemed geared to older people whose taste buds don't like surprises. I finally started asking for sambal to be brought out for my meals, which they did. We also thought that the meat and fish served was not the best quality... The fries at the Dive-in and the morning congee and omelettes at the Lido, however, were some of the best we had.
The other problem with the food was that it was generally not served until 7am or after 8.30pm, so there were a few times we woke up or went to bed starving. Also, as everything at the Lido had to be served, there were long lines of impatient, sometimes rude, passengers.
4. the activities - On Princess cruises I'm usually racing from lectures to dance classes to trivia, and back again, often without enough time for a sit-down meal. On this HA cruise, I was rarely busy as there were few lectures and even fewer dance and arts and crafts classes. It was good to have down time, but I felt again that this cruise was geared to older, more sedentary passengers. The Test Kitchen and lectures that were given, however, were excellent and informative.
5. the excursions - Most ship excursions are expensive, and these were no exception, but the HA excursions were much better than the ones I've been on with Princess. The guides, transport and organization were generally excellent, but were worth paying the premium prices.
Our cabin looked good and was spacious, with a sofa and desk, but the air conditioning never worked so it was always 75°F or more, in countries that were already uncomfortably hot and humid. The staff were vigilant in trying to fix the problem but were not successful. Also, there was a leak somewhere that left a wet area outside our bathroom for the entire 2 weeks. To remedy the problem, a large, loud fan that blew hot air onto the spot was brought in, but as our cabin was already too warm, we sent the fan away after a few hours.
We signed up for the fishing village excursion but cancelled when we realize that we were paying $80/pp to see people living in dire poverty. Others who went on the excursion were not thrilled with it. Unfortunately, Cambodia has not recovered social/economically from its tragic past. What it needs is people to help re-build and educate, not tourists throwing money at the beggars.
We were 8 people in an air-conditioned mini-van with an excellent, English-speaking guide. We were able to go around the whole island to see 4 different beautiful temples, which filled our temple-seeing quota for the rest of the trip...View All undefined undefined Reviews
Took the $12 shuttle into town and then shared a local cab with another shipboard couple to go to Hoi An and Marble Mountain, both of which were worth seeing - we spent over 2 hours in Hoi An and 1+ at Marble Mtn. Our cab driver was a nice family man whose limited English did not hinder communication - we paid him in $$ on an agreed-upon sum before getting in his taxi.
Singapore was clean and safe and the people very helpful and friendly - we loved it and wished we were there more than 3 1/2 days! We opted for the Hop On-Off bus for 2 days and went to the Botanical Gardens, Little India, Chinatown, Gardens by the Bay, local neighborhood markets, everywhere!The only thing we didn't like was the 80% humidity, and we were there in Dec, a month of cooler temperatures.
We decided to take the tender into town, and then used the wifi at the large hotel across the street from the tender drop-off. Then near the pier, we found a local rep, who rounded up other passengers from the ship, who agreed to take us all on a cruise on Halong Bay and a visit to the Thien Cung Cave. We had to take a 20-min minibus ride to the boarding site and then ended up walking a few blocks to board the public converted fishing junks. A trip not to be missed - the Halong Bay karsts are magnificent to view, and the cave is spectacular, truly the highlight of our cruise!
We were here for only 3 days and wished we could have stayed another week. The new metro system and buses are wonderful - makes it easy to get around HK, Kowloon and the New Territories. Be prepared, however, for the crowds of pushy people.
An expensive 11-hour tour, but worth it when we considered it was 2+ hours to get from the port to Bangkok, and then maneuver through the horrendous traffic in Bangkok. We had a comfortable air-conditioned bus, another excellent, Eng-speaking guide, and an excellent Thai buffet lunch at the Sheraton (with Thai beer!). The river trip was interesting but uncomfortable as we were sitting on hard, wooden benches for 1+ hours that were so close together that passengers' knees behind kept hitting the butts in front. The flower market/market was fun to see and walk through, but we were exhausted at the end of the day, mostly due to the heat and humidity.
The next day, we booked a 4-hour tour to Pattaya to see another buddha and worthwhile panoramic view. But the highlight of this tour was the 2-hour full-body Thai massage we all received - a needed comfort after the previous long day. We were so happy with our massages that we tipped our masseuses more than was recommended!View All undefined undefined Reviews
Took the $12 round trip shuttle offered by HA as it was quite a distance to town - totally worth it to see how far Vietnam has come. Drop-off is in front of a modern shopping center with a food court on top, and across the street from the beach! Shared another cab to the local market but was not worth the extra trip. Do be careful crossing streets however as there are millions of motorbikes that do NOT stop for pedestrians.