We chose this cruise based on a couple of the cities that were on the itinerary that we had never been to before. Unfortunately, when we arrived onboard to our stateroom, there was a letter stating that Koh Samui had been removed from the itinerary and they had replaced it with Sihanoukville in Cambodia. This was not a huge issue, considering we had not been to Sihanoukville before, so we were looking forward to going there instead, as an alternative. In relation to the shore excursion, we opted for the free shuttle that was offered. After waiting 1.5 hours in the baking sun on the port in a huge line, we were informed that the shuttle buses were stuck in traffic and they didn't know how long it would be till they arrived. A guest suggested that a drink of cold water and some umbrellas for shade would be a good idea for the elderly and the children stuck in the line (this was after waiting for over an hour) and finally we received them. When one shuttle bus finally arrived back in port, the passengers who got off it said they had been on the bus for 3 hours. They had been stuck in traffic in the one spot for 2 hours going nowhere and then the bus turned around and brought them back to port. They didn't get to the market at all. Another passenger who had gotten a private taxi to the market said that it wasn't even worth going to. Very busy, crowded and only items relevant to the locals were being sold there. We had been keen to go to the market and then get a tuk-tuk down to the beach for a few hours. We thought they should have found out beforehand how many people were interested in going on the free shuttle so they could have had an idea of numbers instead of just waiting to see how many people lined up to get off. We were very disappointed to have missed out on this opportunity, especially after the disappointment of missing out on Koh Samui. The reason they had given us for bypassing Koh Samui was that there would be too many ships in port on the day of our arrival. These itineraries are arranged a year in advance. This did not seem like a very valid or viable reason, given that if Koh Samui were going to turn away a ship, it not likely be 3,000 cashed passengers. The tv advertisements for the cruises always show just a couple of people enjoying privacy and space on the ship and on the shore excursions. this is not the reality. But if you go with that in mind, you wont be too shocked at how busy it is and the shore excursions are always a bit of a rush and expensive.
The food is very good and I loved having the formal nights. It is lovely to get dressed up and have a fancy dinner. It was also really good that everyone else was dressed up too. It wasn't just a few people, nearly everyone joined in on the formal nights. We were also pleased that once a movie had been shown on the outdoor cinema that it was then available to watch again in your stateroom on your tv. There was a great variety of movies and shows available in your stateroom.
We purchased the soft drink package before we left. We had a note in our stateroom that the complimentary tumblers that came with the package were all gone and more would be arriving soon. In the meantime, they gave us a bottle of water each for our room as a thank you for our patience whilst we waited for them to arrive. A few days into the cruise, we went to the reception desk to enquire about the tumblers only to be told that the bottle of water was all we were being given. The card we had stating that we would be receiving the tumblers was wrong and there was nothing we could do about it. Again, a bit disappointing, but it didn't detract from our overall relaxing holiday that we enjoyed.
The cabin was not as big as we thought it would be given that it was a balcony stateroom. However, it was clean and neat and the bed was extremely comfortable. However, if I was staying onboard for longer than 10 nights, I would find it lacking in wardrobe space and floor area. The area where the kettle is located, on the shelf above the fridge, does not have a power point, so you have to move the kettle to the desk area in order to boil it.
This is where we embarked so it wasn't a place to do an arranged shore excursion.
We did the shore excursion of bike riding through the countryside. It was a slow ride with a lot of stops. Some stops seemed pointless to us but we were mindful of the fact that there were riders of varying ability on the excursion. It was a very flat ride and very easy to do.
We have been here before so we decided to stay on the ship. We had a lovely day onboard just relaxing by the pool. It was a nice opportunity to chill out without the usual crowds around the pool and in the buffet, that you usually get on the days at sea.
We took the free shuttle into Pattaya and enjoyed a massage and did some shopping. it is what you would expect from a town in Thailand. shopping, massages, food, markets. We enjoyed our few hours here.
we didn't get to go here because they changed our itinerary without any prior warning to embarking on the ship. We were very disappointed as this port was one of the reasons we had chosen to do the cruise. There were a lot of passengers who had done the same. The alternative port, Sihanoukville in Cambodia, was so poorly organised and executed that after waiting 1.5 hours in line on the port, we had to go back on the ship without even going anywhere because the shuttle buses had been stuck in traffic for 3 hours.