We were on a Cruise 1st combined China Land Tour and Japan Cruise. There were five buses of us and a further 4 buses of Trip-a-deal on the cruise. I think this helped as we already knew quite a lot of the international passengers before we boarded and would often run into them on the ship. As we were Diamond Plus Crown and Anchor members we had priority boarding and disembarkation so this I believe helped a lot, no standing in long queues, we just bi-passed everyone. We also had access to the Concierge Lounge, no one seemed to be here most of the time, so nice and quiet - access to coffee and food most of the day. We also had access to the Solarium restaurant for breakfast, this also got us away from the crowds...and access to the Solarium pool area night and day...This was also reserved for suite guests I believe, but not very busy. The Chinese did have their babies in the Hot Tubs even though rules stated that babies not toilet trained were not to be in there. There were many diapered babies in these pools. Rules need to be enforced as this is a definite health hazard. We had a booked time for dinner in the Restaurant (we tried all four restaurants) the food was very good (both Asian and western) I enjoyed it all. I did expected it to be all Asian as we were in Asian waters. Breakfast and lunch was also a mixture of both cultures. Entertainment was good. Sonic Odyssey was very good, and I guess catered to the language barrier, being mainly music orientated. Starwater show was a bit weird, the second half was far better than the beginning. Needs to start with a bang. The Ripcord Ifly was $29pp and the North Star Ride $20pp, things that in other parts of the world are free. We did expect the Chinese on the whole to be loud, rude and pushy but overall it wasn't too bad. They did however smoke in the Casino which did penetrate to other close-by parts of the ship. There were lots of activities on sea days so no need to be board, in fact many more than on most of the cruises we have previously been on. The service we were given by all the staff was extraordinary, including wait staff, room attendants and any others we passed on the ship. We had an inside category (11709). Our cabin was very small for a new ship, although it had a virtual balcony, I did spot a few other cabins with much bigger & better virtual balconies. We have been on the Ovation before and this ship was the same except for the different paintings etc...Most of the ports were just okay...nothing extraordinary, there were not many ship tours in these ports and it seems not much to do. We did all our ports on our own with the cities public transport and ended up having wonderful days. It was very hard to find out much about these ports before we went on our cruise. On disembarkation there was a free shuttle bus from the port to the nearest railway station, and we then caught the train to the airport. We did however have to change once. (18 stations - change 5 stations), beautiful trains and easy to navigate. We arrived at the airport at the same time as those that did the ship transfer to the airport. Be aware that their are two airports in Shanghai, (we had booked a transfer with friends prior to cruise, only to find out that we were going to different airports). So need to check your departing airport. I think the Ship only offered transfers to Pudong Airport. We had quite a large contingent of english speaking passengers on this particular cruise and this made it for a very pleasant time. On the whole, I would highly recommend this cruise.
We were towards the rear of the ship, but no trouble with movement, just a little far to walk to the stairs, but it burns more calories. Well appointed, a little bit small and only a sitting chair, Royal usually have a lounge to sit on, I missed this. Bed comfortable. Very small bathroom, smaller than most. We did get to visit friends in the Loft Suite and it was amazing, so if you can afford a Loft go for it.
We were still on a Cruise 1st land tour of China whilst experiencing Shanghai. We found Shanghai to be wonderful. We did a morning tour of the city including the Bund and the Shanghai Museum. We also visited the Old Town for shopping (cheap) and Nanjing Road (expensive shopping). The highlight however was a Night Cruise on the Huangpu River. Simply Stunning. Highly recommend this cruise, it certainly finished our Land component with a bang.
We did Hakodate on our own, we caught the ship shuttle into the town centre (JR Hakodate Station), where we bought an all day transport ticket (Y1000) and caught the bus to the Goryokaku Park and Tower. Best thing we ever did, as the Cherry Blossoms were in full bloom. (1 May). The queue seemed long to go up the tower, but went relatively quickly. What a wonderful view. We then caught the tram to the Motomachi area where there were lots of churches and historic areas to see and investigate we walked back along the river to the Red Brick Warehouses. Unfortunately we had planned to ge up the Ropeway to Mr Hakodate but visibility was nil, so passed on this, but this would be beautiful on a lovely day.