1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Norwegian Jewel
NCL Jewel South East Asia March 2019 - 12 day cruise. We are a couple from Montreal, Canada and travelling with a 6-yr old who enjoys adventure and travel as much as we do. This is not our first cruise, but first time on an NCL cruise. TRAVEL AGENCY We booked this cruise through a travel agency thinking that there could be some benefits that we could not otherwise access. None that I can see, but $100 to open our files. Once I gave my credit card info, my stateroom was booked, at the very front of the ship ( yes - the bow, and steps further ahead you are in the ocean) without my knowledge. I have just read an interesting article going over one of the most exciting step in the cruise is finding and booking the stateroom. Well not for us, and could do nothing to change it, without paying extra. This is a 294m ship long, with the buffet restaurant at the other end of the ship, and most other activities in mid-ship. This became, by default, our daily walking exercise. The last 2 days of the cruise, the ship was going through rough seas and I can tell you that it was not pleasant to be at either end of the ship. We opted to prepay the ship service charge and going for the unlimited beverage package, to avoid the pressure of thinking twice before ordering drinks. This package does not include freshly pressed fruit juices, bottled water or alcoholic drinks over US$15. RESEARCH I must have spent 100's of hours planning, researching and documenting to plan for this NCL South East Asia cruise. Info that I extracted from internet is very fragmented, incomplete, and at times contradictory. Many coming from some arrogant contributors. SOME TIPS Things that we brought along 1. Travel Adaptors (Canada uses 110-120V, Far East 220-240V) Just make sure that your electronic devices are dual voltage. The Adaptor is just a device to make your electronics fit in the holes. Adaptors are not power converters. 2. Battery Chargers (must be with your carry on, NOT allowed in checked-in Luggage) 3. Spare unlocked smart phone (used as hotspot for other devices and laptops to connect to ) 4. Photocopy Passport ( 40cs colour copy at Office Depot). NCL keeps all Passports and return them on the day prior to final destination. You will need a copy of your passport if you buy a SIM card. If crumpled, difficult for the SIM card cashier to scan to complete your purchase). If offshore and requested by local authorities, you need to show your room card key and a govt picture ID. This is where the copy passport also comes in handy. 5. Deet Insect Repellent. We got bitten just once (luckily!) close to the docks at dusk. 6. Roll of toilet paper (off shore excursions). 7. Singapore $300 in cash (CAD306) for 2 days. 8. Thai Bhat 8,000 in cash (CAD365) for 2 days 9. Hong Kong $4,000 in cash (CAD706) for 4 days. We did self-guided tours for Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong. You can certainly use less cash and more credit. We used credit cards for hotels/lodgings and higher value purchases in reliable establishments. Canadians do not need visa for these 3 countries above. For Cambodia and Vietnam, while self-guided tours are possible, if you stay close to the Port, we opted to book local tour guides to play it safe. PRE-PLANNING We online ordered a SIM card (Smart Comfort - SIM Card Asia) from SIM OPTIONS for US$39.90 + 9.90 = US$49.80 (CAD$68.45) delivered to our Hotel in Singapore. This gives us 12GB internet, 3G+ connection, valid for 30 days from first use, plug and play and valid for Singapore, Vietnam and Hongkong. The card will barely work where the ship docks, with fluctuating on-off signals. On land, and just simple emails, you would be ok. I am used to 135Mbps download speed at home, and that SIM card speed is nowhere comparable, but nevertheless acceptable and useful when on shore. If you find the speed too slow, relatively easy to buy sim in all 3 countries above. Singapore sells the 3-day sim at 7-11 convenience store (they all speak English) for S$13. I bought a sim in Phu My, Vietnam at a phone store, 10 mins taxi ride from the cruise port, for 140,000 VD (CAD$8). I wanted their fastest data SIM card for minimum of 3 days. Could not get myself understood, even with the help of Google Translate on my phone. My taxi driver with his very limited English, rescued me. They did not accept payment in US$. Once again, driver came to the rescue and lent me local money. HEADING TOWARDS CRUISE From our hotel in Singapore, we took a taxi to the Marina Cruise Centre. If you let Hotel concierge book the taxi for you, they do not tell you that there is a S$2 fee to your cab fares. Lots of taxis coming in to drop passengers off, all the time, that we took instead. We arrived at the Cruise Centre just after 2 pm, with a huge line up, with a good number of NCL staff to welcome and guide us. We left our tagged luggages at the entrance, and got them later just outside our stateroom. We got in the queue while filling up our profile forms and authorization for NCL to charge for Cambodia and Vietnam visa. (No Thailand visa required for Canadians). When we completed our forms, well over 200 people had joined the queue after us. US$89 per person for visa to go ashore in Sihanoukville, Cambodia is crazily expensive, given that this is only a one day (actually only 6-7 hours since ship leaves at 5pm) offshore excursion and total ripoff by NCL US$69 per person for visa to go ashore in Vietnamese ports is equally brutal in price. For a family of 3, the cost of these 2 visa would be a hefty US$474 (CAD640) We will now include this visa factor when evaluating costs for future cruises. Internet research to procure a visa for these 2 countries revealed it is easier said than done, as there are misleading, contradicting and incomplete information in any cruise forums/Trip advisor, and even "official" site. NCL takes advantage of this visa situation to make some good easy money from us all. Some reliable post claims that Celebrity cruise charges a single digit visa fee per person. Besides the very long wait in the queue, actual check-in was painless and our pictures were taken that would be used when embarking and disembarking the ship. We were told that NCL would use these same pictures taken for visa purposes. We downloaded the NCL app to view features of the ship and facilities offered. The app is only focused on advertising for their paid restaurants and offshore excursions. The rest is totally useless. No other pertinent information that’s worth hanging on to the app. 2 hours later, we finally went onboard. Our stateroom was ready when we got on board, reasonably clean and fully equipped. 2 single beds - Let housekeeping join them together to make a queen size bed, or the beds will somehow separate by next morning! Child wall overhead foldable bed 30” Flat TV Shower stall, toilet & sink. Shower gel and shampoo dispenser Soap bar, body lotion. Bath towels and beach towels Tissue paper Toilet paper (Dollar store quality) Safe (did not work), hair dryer, hangers, ice bucket. 2 bottled water labelled $5.50 each Mini fridge Room thermostat. Shelves to store stuffs. Two pouffes Two night tables with lamps. Three outlets on each of the 2 mini workspace: For laptop, double usb and a 3-prong. We used our travel adapter on the 3-prong outlets for charging other dual voltage devices. As we moved the night table around to maximize space, we found a pair of sunglasses behind, which we handed to our housekeeper. This therefore tells us that the room is not necessarily spick and span, as one would have liked it to be. Housekeeping is done daily. Twice daily actually. At about 5pm there was a mandatory drill regarding safety protocol where everyone has to attend (staff updating attendance register to ensure everyone attended) for about 30 mins. Ordering drinks at the bar was painless as our adult card keys were marked with the prepaid beverage code. We only needed to show 1 card to order for our 2 drinks. Long line up on the very first day. ONBOARD INTERNET NCL has a number of options, all crazily expensive. - Unlimited WIFI US$25.50 per day online purchase prior to cruise (Otherwise US$29.99) No VPN, no streaming. - Unlimited WIFI with VPN and streaming US$29.50 per day online purchase prior to cruise (Otherwise US$34.99) - 250 Anytime minutes for US$105 online purchase prior to cruise (Otherwise US$125). No VPN and no streaming. Need to log out when done, to stop the minutes counter. Note that for the unlimited options above, you will have to pay for the entire duration of the cruise, as there is no pro-rata charge. You therefore cannot purchase for a few days only, as I originally thought I could do. It's all or nothing unlimited package. After the 4th day of the cruise, the unlimited options are no longer available. Signals strength is best in common areas, but works to a lesser degree in the stateroom. Our first day on the ship was very promising and eager to start our adventure ... On the second day, a sea day, at 6am we were surprised that the Garden Cafe, and other restaurants were not open. Later in the same morning, we went to the restaurant reservation and politely enquired about opening hours of restaurants, to plan our offshore excursions. Arlene, on the customer service, raised her ducky squeeky voice to reply with such an attitude that took us all by surprise. For sure one of the worst staff we have ever encountered on any cruise ship. Ever. She sometimes worked at Chin Chin restaurant that my 6-yr old avoided like the pest. Seriously! We then realized that many of the staff, in general, on board the NCL Jewel are either ill-mannered or totally did not give a . Very cold treatment at the Tsar restaurant before we got seated. On the eve of the last day, on Friday Mar 15, at 7.54pm, I ordered a Scotch at the Atrium and the barman stated that he will give me a premium Scotch. I responded, that as long as I do not get billed, since I have a prepaid package. He stated that he will key in a lower grade Scotch. Another barman called vmal murmured, loud enough for me to hear: "Why such a fuss? This is the last night of the cruise" and turned his back on me without me having a chance to respond. I am flabbergasted with these kind of remarks. They sometimes forget that we are the customer. CRUISE REVIEW 1. The itinerary to South East Asia is splendid. 2. The ship itself has been renovated recently and feels like new. 3. Our stateroom was small but descent and contains everything one would require. 4. Staff attitude is perhaps one of the triggering point in liking or not liking a cruise line. While there are many lovely and polite staff on board, there is an equal if not more unpleasant staff on the NCL Jewel. Too many. 5. Process for check-in takes way too long. 6. The charge for visa is grossly exaggerated. 7. There is limited upfront information to a lot of things. The actual location where the ship docks at each port seems to be kept in secrecy. I arranged for a driver to pick us up in Phu My, Vietnam (as indicated on all documents we have) and have a nasty surprise that we docked at Cai Mep and had difficulty to contact the driver for this new location. In Sihanoukville, Cambodia we walked from the docks to the gate to meet our guide. In fact, there is a free shuttle to the gate but it was not advertised. What was advertised was $15 shuttle from docks to the City. 8. Going ashore using tender (In Ko Samui, Thailand) is a nightmare. Chaotic and totally disorganized. 9. Everyday struggle at the Garden Cafe Buffet to find a table, as the restaurant is too small to cater for the number of passengers. 10. Only a couple of good night entertainment show, and the rest is mediocre. Overall, the worst cruise line experience we have had.

Not good experience

Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by Trochetia

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: March 2019
  • Destination: Asia
  • Cabin Type: Inside
NCL Jewel South East Asia March 2019 - 12 day cruise.

We are a couple from Montreal, Canada and travelling with a 6-yr old who enjoys adventure and travel as much as we do. This is not our first cruise, but first time on an NCL cruise.

TRAVEL AGENCY

We booked this cruise through a travel agency thinking that there could be some benefits that we could not otherwise access. None that I can see, but $100 to open our files.

Once I gave my credit card info, my stateroom was booked, at the very front of the ship ( yes - the bow, and steps further ahead you are in the ocean) without my knowledge. I have just read an interesting article going over one of the most exciting step in the cruise is finding and booking the stateroom. Well not for us, and could do nothing to change it, without paying extra. This is a 294m ship long, with the buffet restaurant at the other end of the ship, and most other activities in mid-ship. This became, by default, our daily walking exercise. The last 2 days of the cruise, the ship was going through rough seas and I can tell you that it was not pleasant to be at either end of the ship.

We opted to prepay the ship service charge and going for the unlimited beverage package, to avoid the pressure of thinking twice before ordering drinks. This package does not include freshly pressed fruit juices, bottled water or alcoholic drinks over US$15.

RESEARCH

I must have spent 100's of hours planning, researching and documenting to plan for this NCL South East Asia cruise.

Info that I extracted from internet is very fragmented, incomplete, and at times contradictory. Many coming from some arrogant contributors.

SOME TIPS

Things that we brought along

1. Travel Adaptors (Canada uses 110-120V, Far East 220-240V) Just make sure that your electronic devices are dual voltage. The Adaptor is just a device to make your electronics fit in the holes. Adaptors are not power converters.

2. Battery Chargers (must be with your carry on, NOT allowed in checked-in Luggage)

3. Spare unlocked smart phone (used as hotspot for other devices and laptops to connect to )

4. Photocopy Passport ( 40cs colour copy at Office Depot). NCL keeps all Passports and return them on the day prior to final destination. You will need a copy of your passport if you buy a SIM card. If crumpled, difficult for the SIM card cashier to scan to complete your purchase). If offshore and requested by local authorities, you need to show your room card key and a govt picture ID. This is where the copy passport also comes in handy.

5. Deet Insect Repellent. We got bitten just once (luckily!) close to the docks at dusk.

6. Roll of toilet paper (off shore excursions).

7. Singapore $300 in cash (CAD306) for 2 days.

8. Thai Bhat 8,000 in cash (CAD365) for 2 days

9. Hong Kong $4,000 in cash (CAD706) for 4 days.

We did self-guided tours for Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong. You can certainly use less cash and more credit. We used credit cards for hotels/lodgings and higher value purchases in reliable establishments.

Canadians do not need visa for these 3 countries above.

For Cambodia and Vietnam, while self-guided tours are possible, if you stay close to the Port, we opted to book local tour guides to play it safe.

PRE-PLANNING

We online ordered a SIM card (Smart Comfort - SIM Card Asia) from SIM OPTIONS for US$39.90 + 9.90 = US$49.80 (CAD$68.45) delivered to our Hotel in Singapore. This gives us 12GB internet, 3G+ connection, valid for 30 days from first use, plug and play and valid for Singapore, Vietnam and Hongkong.

The card will barely work where the ship docks, with fluctuating on-off signals. On land, and just simple emails, you would be ok.

I am used to 135Mbps download speed at home, and that SIM card speed is nowhere comparable, but nevertheless acceptable and useful when on shore. If you find the speed too slow, relatively easy to buy sim in all 3 countries above.

Singapore sells the 3-day sim at 7-11 convenience store (they all speak English) for S$13.

I bought a sim in Phu My, Vietnam at a phone store, 10 mins taxi ride from the cruise port, for 140,000 VD (CAD$8). I wanted their fastest data SIM card for minimum of 3 days. Could not get myself understood, even with the help of Google Translate on my phone. My taxi driver with his very limited English, rescued me. They did not accept payment in US$. Once again, driver came to the rescue and lent me local money.

HEADING TOWARDS CRUISE

From our hotel in Singapore, we took a taxi to the Marina Cruise Centre. If you let Hotel concierge book the taxi for you, they do not tell you that there is a S$2 fee to your cab fares. Lots of taxis coming in to drop passengers off, all the time, that we took instead.

We arrived at the Cruise Centre just after 2 pm, with a huge line up, with a good number of NCL staff to welcome and guide us.

We left our tagged luggages at the entrance, and got them later just outside our stateroom.

We got in the queue while filling up our profile forms and authorization for NCL to charge for Cambodia and Vietnam visa. (No Thailand visa required for Canadians). When we completed our forms, well over 200 people had joined the queue after us.

US$89 per person for visa to go ashore in Sihanoukville, Cambodia is crazily expensive, given that this is only a one day (actually only 6-7 hours since ship leaves at 5pm) offshore excursion and total ripoff by NCL

US$69 per person for visa to go ashore in Vietnamese ports is equally brutal in price.

For a family of 3, the cost of these 2 visa would be a hefty US$474 (CAD640)

We will now include this visa factor when evaluating costs for future cruises.

Internet research to procure a visa for these 2 countries revealed it is easier said than done, as there are misleading, contradicting and incomplete information in any cruise forums/Trip advisor, and even "official" site.

NCL takes advantage of this visa situation to make some good easy money from us all. Some reliable post claims that Celebrity cruise charges a single digit visa fee per person.

Besides the very long wait in the queue, actual check-in was painless and our pictures were taken that would be used when embarking and disembarking the ship. We were told that NCL would use these same pictures taken for visa purposes.

We downloaded the NCL app to view features of the ship and facilities offered. The app is only focused on advertising for their paid restaurants and offshore excursions. The rest is totally useless. No other pertinent information that’s worth hanging on to the app.

2 hours later, we finally went onboard. Our stateroom was ready when we got on board, reasonably clean and fully equipped.

2 single beds - Let housekeeping join them together to make a queen size bed, or the beds will somehow separate by next morning!

Child wall overhead foldable bed

30” Flat TV

Shower stall, toilet & sink.

Shower gel and shampoo dispenser

Soap bar, body lotion.

Bath towels and beach towels

Tissue paper

Toilet paper (Dollar store quality)

Safe (did not work), hair dryer, hangers, ice bucket.

2 bottled water labelled $5.50 each

Mini fridge

Room thermostat.

Shelves to store stuffs.

Two pouffes

Two night tables with lamps.

Three outlets on each of the 2 mini workspace: For laptop, double usb and a 3-prong.

We used our travel adapter on the 3-prong outlets for charging other dual voltage devices.

As we moved the night table around to maximize space, we found a pair of sunglasses behind, which we handed to our housekeeper. This therefore tells us that the room is not necessarily spick and span, as one would have liked it to be.

Housekeeping is done daily. Twice daily actually.

At about 5pm there was a mandatory drill regarding safety protocol where everyone has to attend (staff updating attendance register to ensure everyone attended) for about 30 mins.

Ordering drinks at the bar was painless as our adult card keys were marked with the prepaid beverage code. We only needed to show 1 card to order for our 2 drinks. Long line up on the very first day.

ONBOARD INTERNET

NCL has a number of options, all crazily expensive.

- Unlimited WIFI US$25.50 per day online purchase prior to cruise (Otherwise US$29.99) No VPN, no streaming.

- Unlimited WIFI with VPN and streaming US$29.50 per day online purchase prior to cruise (Otherwise US$34.99)

- 250 Anytime minutes for US$105 online purchase prior to cruise (Otherwise US$125). No VPN and no streaming. Need to log out when done, to stop the minutes counter.

Note that for the unlimited options above, you will have to pay for the entire duration of the cruise, as there is no pro-rata charge. You therefore cannot purchase for a few days only, as I originally thought I could do. It's all or nothing unlimited package. After the 4th day of the cruise, the unlimited options are no longer available.

Signals strength is best in common areas, but works to a lesser degree in the stateroom.

Our first day on the ship was very promising and eager to start our adventure ...

On the second day, a sea day, at 6am we were surprised that the Garden Cafe, and other restaurants were not open.

Later in the same morning, we went to the restaurant reservation and politely enquired about opening hours of restaurants, to plan our offshore excursions. Arlene, on the customer service, raised her ducky squeeky voice to reply with such an attitude that took us all by surprise. For sure one of the worst staff we have ever encountered on any cruise ship. Ever. She sometimes worked at Chin Chin restaurant that my 6-yr old avoided like the pest. Seriously!

We then realized that many of the staff, in general, on board the NCL Jewel are either ill-mannered or totally did not give a .

Very cold treatment at the Tsar restaurant before we got seated.

On the eve of the last day, on Friday Mar 15, at 7.54pm, I ordered a Scotch at the Atrium and the barman stated that he will give me a premium Scotch. I responded, that as long as I do not get billed, since I have a prepaid package. He stated that he will key in a lower grade Scotch. Another barman called vmal murmured, loud enough for me to hear: "Why such a fuss? This is the last night of the cruise" and turned his back on me without me having a chance to respond.

I am flabbergasted with these kind of remarks. They sometimes forget that we are the customer.


CRUISE REVIEW

1. The itinerary to South East Asia is splendid.

2. The ship itself has been renovated recently and feels like new.

3. Our stateroom was small but descent and contains everything one would require.

4. Staff attitude is perhaps one of the triggering point in liking or not liking a cruise line. While there are many lovely and polite staff on board, there is an equal if not more unpleasant staff on the NCL Jewel. Too many.

5. Process for check-in takes way too long.

6. The charge for visa is grossly exaggerated.

7. There is limited upfront information to a lot of things.

The actual location where the ship docks at each port seems to be kept in secrecy. I arranged for a driver to pick us up in Phu My, Vietnam (as indicated on all documents we have) and have a nasty surprise that we docked at Cai Mep and had difficulty to contact the driver for this new location.

In Sihanoukville, Cambodia we walked from the docks to the gate to meet our guide. In fact, there is a free shuttle to the gate but it was not advertised. What was advertised was $15 shuttle from docks to the City.

8. Going ashore using tender (In Ko Samui, Thailand) is a nightmare. Chaotic and totally disorganized.

9. Everyday struggle at the Garden Cafe Buffet to find a table, as the restaurant is too small to cater for the number of passengers.

10. Only a couple of good night entertainment show, and the rest is mediocre.

Overall, the worst cruise line experience we have had.
Trochetia’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Ages Under 3
Ages 3 to 6
Service
Onboard Experience
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Norwegian Jewel price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Bangkok (Laem Chabang)
    March 7, 2019 Laem Chabang

    NCL Jewel South East Asia March 4, 2019
    While the nearest city is Pattaya, our plan is to visit Bangkok which is about 130 Kms away. What makes this port (Laem Chabang) a challenge for cruise passengers:
    - There is nothing in the vicinity of Laem Chabang to visit
    - The sun and heat is intense
    - There is a very large number of aggressive taxi drivers waving excursion flyer in your face
    - GRAB (the UBER equivalent) may show a cheaper rate to Bangkok 1,460B (CAD 61), but will show all drivers busy. Busy making more money from cruise passengers. Once all passengers are off ship and left, you might get lucky with GRAB.
    - The gate is over 1km away, in the middle of nowhere and there is a 400B (CAD17) fee per vehicle coming to the Port, through the gate. Not going out (as one taxi driver tried to discourage me, claiming that I would pay 400B if I walk to exit the gate - hence taxi is cheaper after the gate).
    - Trying to find transportation outside the gate is equally challenging, as the nearest life form is about an hour's walk from the gate.
    - Traffic is insane in Bangkok, as our taxi ride leaving at 10.15am ( on Thursday) from Port to Giant Swing (Bangkok) took 3hrs 25min. Our return journey to the Port leaving at 11.30am ( on Friday) took 2 hrs 30min.
    - Unless you have already booked an excursion, or a taxi ride, your option is to fall in the hands of some opportunist taxi drivers at the Port.
    I had previously declined an online offer received a week prior, from a reliable taxi service for 1,500B + 400B entrance fee (CAD$80), thinking that I could do better.

    We finally found a couple who was in the same situation to share the ride. At that time, many of the taxis have left and the cheapest one we could find is 2,500B (CAD$105), as most were just interested in excursions.

    While the ship docked at 8am, we arrived at the Giant Swing in Bangkok at 1.40pm (Half a day wasted).

    Good thing that I have booked an Airbnb close by, as our ship leaves the next day at 4pm.

    The SIM card I purchased a day earlier in Ko Samui worked perfectly well.

    I had booked a Tuk Tuk hop on hop off, online for 1 day, ideal if you are new to the city, and stay in the centre of attractions, e.g, Wat Pho, Golden Mount, China Town etc.
    Tuk Tuk operates from 8.30am to 6pm and use their app (hence wifi a must - they will also rent a wifi box) to capture your location, the nearest pickup location, the time of your pickup, and your intended destination. The app is relatively simple to use, and that means of transportation is just perfect, as (1) no need to bargain for taxi or TukTuk, (2) unlimited ride for the day, (3) an overhead cover to escape the intense heat, (4) you can see on the app where your ride is and how long it will take them to meet you and (5) they know exactly where to drop you off.

    Children under 100cm free, if travel with a paying adult.

    The cost is
    1 passenger 399 Bhat
    2 passengers 599 Bhat
    3 passengers 699 Bhat (CAD$30)

    Our first TukTuk stop is to Saphan Hua Chang (River boat stop). We took the boat going West for 10B (CAD $0.50) Per adult (children free). You do not need exact money, as the operator will return you change. This is an interesting boat ride.
    We got off Phan Fa Lilat Terminal (last stop) and cross the bridge to Golden Mount.
    Entrance is 50B (CAD $2) Per adult and you climb 244 small steps to get to the top of the Pagoda. Great place to take pictures of the city.
    Tuk Tuk to Wat Pho, world famous Reclining Buddha. Entrance fee 200B (CAD$8.50) Per adult. A site not to be missed.
    Tuk Tuk to Grand Palace. Unfortunately, it was closed at 5pm when we arrived.
    Tuk Tuk to China Town arriving at 6.10pm.
    It was a pleasant adventure to walk along the different streets in China Town and savour the numerous food stalls. The city came alive and buzzing. Lots of fresh seafood sizzling on the BBQ. The aroma was just too much that we finally gave up authentic Thai food and chose seafood instead. Fresh and so good
    Bangkok is indeed a great destination to visit.
    People are courteous and welcoming, proud of their rich culture, splendid architecture and cuisine that you instantly fall in love with. All combine to offer any visitors an unforgettable experience.
    View All 212 Bangkok (Laem Chabang) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Bangkok (Laem Chabang) Cruise Port Review
  • Koh Samui
    NCL Jewel South East Asia March 4, 2019

    March 6, 2019
    Ko Samui is the only Port (in our itinerary) that the ship docks close to Port, and you need a boat transfer (free - provided by the ship) to get on land. This is a 20 mins boat ride one way. It was announced that transfer ticket would be distributed on Deck 12 starting at 7.30am on the same day. Passengers could pick up tickets for other members in their party.

    Already at 6.45am (we were lucky to be walking through this location back to our room) long lineup (about 75) for the transfer tickets. As planned, distribution started at 7.30am. We were in Group 4 for disembarking. We later met some in Group 11 who stayed near the Docks as they disembarked too late, with no time to explore.

    At 8.00am the ship docked at Nathon Pier right on schedule.

    8.30am Passengers were let off ship, starting with privileged members and those who booked excursions through NCL

    At 9.50am, our group was called, and at 10.15am we were on solid ground on our way to a 7-11 (less than 10 mins walk from where we landed) to buy a data sim card. They sell for 299 Bhat (CAD $13), and a copy of your passport is needed to process purchase. They sell only DTAC. We then pass by a Morya Pharmacy, very close by, which sells AIS, which I read is Thailand's fastest internet. We were happy with the DTAC Internet speed, and was able to use the same card the next day in Bangkok.

    Now equipped with Google map, we started our self tour. I approached a driver who was parked outside that 7-11 and negotiated a reasonable fee to hire him for 4 hours and back to the same spot (10 mins from the docks). I ensured the fee is for our group of three and not for 1 person. On top, with his limited English, I made him repeat, so there is no disagreement later. I stayed away from drivers at the docks, as they seem to be more aggressive.

    Under my driving directions, Mr Nut Phiphop, our driver (a true gentleman) drove us around the Island starting south, with our first stop at 11.30am at Grandma/Grandpa rocks.

    At 11.55am we arrived at their famous Chaweng Beach where we had a good swim, as we came fully prepared. The sand is very comparable to that of Varadero, Cuba, with lot less waves. We changed in the hotel outside washroom.

    12.30pm stopped at Big Buddha, but first, a bite at a restaurant nearby to taste their famous pad Thai 120B (CAD$5)

    Visited the Pagoda and the many small souvenir and clothes shops around.

    Not enough time to pass by the Bophut's fisherman's village and we drove north and west, through the scenic roads back to our starting point and arrived at 3pm.

    We had time to do a last shopping stop at the numerous souvenir shops around, and walked towards the Pier, where there was a huge line up, with no one from NCL to confirm that we are in the right queue.

    25mins later, everyone in the queue was rushing towards another embarkation point, over 100m away. The elderly, and those not physically fit had trouble keeping up with the crowd to retain their place in the new queue. In fact, there were no queue, just a herd who was trying hard to stop people from pushing from the back.

    Finally at 4pm, we were relieved to be on board. Everyone was just in shock, as no one has ever experienced anything similar. And not one word of explanation or apology on that day.

    I have later read that NCL had announced some sort of vague apology 2 days later, that we were not aware of.

    Besides the fiasco of NCL, Ko Samui is a great destination to spend time at, good people and great beaches.
    View All 92 Koh Samui Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Koh Samui Cruise Port Review
  • Highlights of Silhanoukville
    March 9, 2019 Sihanoukville

    NCL Jewel South East Asia March 4, 2019

    We disembarked in Sihanoukville, Cambodia with a very open mind, knowing full well that we will not have the same comfort and luxury that we are used to, that we often take for granted.

    There was a money exchange kiosk setup just for cruise passengers.

    One could only hate this place or fall for it, no in-between. Those who do not like this port will even be more so, with the exorbitant visa fees that NCL charges.

    This is a country where cruise tourism is a relatively new phenomenon, and it shows in its rustic port, transportation facilities and the environment. The economy is therefore very dependent on tourism as new infrastructure are popping up at a rapid pace.

    We had booked a private tour by Tuk Tuk for 5-6 hours with www.sihanoukvilleguideservice.com, with the full amount payable to the guide at the end of the tour.

    Aya, our guide is also the owner, speaks perfect English, and picked us up at 8.30am, just outside gate 01 about 800m from the ship. NCL provides a shuttle from Port to the city for $15 pp. What NCL did not advertise was a free shuttle from Port to Gate 01.
    As we had a 6-yr old with us, Aya substituted our Tuk Tuk with a vehicle, fully air-conditioned. There was Aya, the driver and the three of us. We later realised that most roads that we drove on were not asphalted such that there was considerable amount of dust that we would have otherwise been subjected to.
    We visited the Phsar Leu Market,
    Phsar Leu Pagoda, Kbal Chhay Waterfall, the Starfish Bakery & Cafe for a cold beer, the beautiful Otres beach and went back to Phsar Leu Market, at our request, to have a bite and to complete our shopping.

    Aya was a wealth of information and one can only see Cambodia, through the eyes of a local. A percentage of her earnings go towards the children's foundation.

    Our hearts melted at the will power of the people trying hard to revolver from the state of their country in order to rebuild their future.

    This will be a long journey and we cannot turn our back on them.
    View All 12 Highlights of Silhanoukville Reviews
  • Singapore
    Day -1 Singapore Sat Mar 2, 2019

    We landed in Changi Airport at 10 pm on Saturday Mar 2, 2019.

    Singapore Tourist Card is a 1 day pass offering unlimited travel on MTR and buses for S$10 (plus S$10 refundable deposit). Kiosks sell them at the Airport, but they close at 9pm, and there are no self-serve kiosks at the airport.
    Strongly recommend this card, unless one does not intend to use public transportation. If you have previously travelled in any MTR, then you will have no problem at all with MTR in Singapore.

    Kids under 7 and under 0.9m travel free. I enquired with the MTR inspector regarding my child being under 7, but over 0.9m and he replied free. I like that answer.

    I booked the M Hotel at 81 Anson Road, Singapore 079908 which is situated at the Marina Bay. We did not book their fairly comprehensive breakfast (about S$20 pp), as we wanted to have an early lunch at the famous Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice restaurant.
    The hotel is:
    18 mins drive (21 Kms) from Airport
    5 mins walk to nearest MTR Tanjong Pagar)
    8 mins walk to China town.
    8 mins drive to Marina Cruise Centre, where NCL Jewel docks.


    Day 00 Singapore Sun Mar 3, 2019

    9.15am walked towards the Maxwell Food Centre in Singapore.
    We decided to go for Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice Restaurant, simply because of the many positive Yelp reviews and also the fact that the place was featured by Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay. The restaurant opens at 10am and already there is a very long lineup. Other places serve similar menu and get only customers who have no patience for waiting in line. Service was fast, but do not expect too much, except having a chance to taste this famous dish as this is a food court and tables were not necessarily spotlessly clean.
    I ordered 2 Hainanese Chicken Rice and 2 vegetable dishes for S$18. Fifteen minutes later, I was walking away with my order.

    The chicken was very tender with practically no fat. There is a sauce that you get in a small side container that would spice the food up, and I find the meat to be quite bland without.
    Not expensive, and worth a try.

    We took MTR to Mustapha Centre, very interesting place but could not find anything worthwhile to purchase there.

    I had ordered tickets online from Klook for Garden by the Bay for admission to Cloud Forest and Flower Dome.
    US$ 22.70 adult
    US$ 13.85 (Child 3-12)
    Total CAD $74.35
    This ticket is only good for the day that you select. Check the dates as the place is sometimes closed.

    While there is a discount when purchasing tickets from Klook, in our case, it was a hassle to exchange the Klook coupon with an actual ticket only at the Red Dot Design Museum at 11 Marina Blvd, 018940. The entrance to the Garden by the Bay is 18 Marina Garden Drive, 018953. This is a minimum 16 mins walk (or 12 mins taxi ride).

    This superbly magical place is truly a must see. You do not have to be a flower lover to enjoy.
    Best time to visit is 6 pm-10pm as you have time to see everything during day time and savour the lights during the evening spectacular show time. Do bring a sweater as it is chilling cold inside and there is a lot of walking with no bench or chairs anywhere to rest.

    I could have easily stayed there for the entire day
    View All 569 Singapore Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Singapore Cruise Port Review