Having previously read bad reviews before travelling, we feel it is only right to set the record straight regarding this particular sailing.
Like may others reading the poor reviews regarding the ship, we were very apprehensive before travelling but these turned out to be unfounded.
We started on a 9 day land tour of China with Wendy Wu tours which was fabulous. (see separate review)
Upon arrival at Tianjin Cruise terminal along with 1000’s of other guests the whole process was fairly smooth and within 45 minutes we were on the ship. Sadly this cannot be said for some guests travelling on 72 hour visa’s where entry to China was refused from 2 days before up to sailing day with no valid reason given. Many flew home and some flew to the next port awaiting the arrival of the ship. This was very distressing for all concerned. To date, no explanation has been provided.
Once on, what a total surprise. We have sailed on most of the different class of Royal ship’s and this was different again. It was spotlessly clean, light and airy and totally ready for 1000’s of Western cruisers. In fact the captain’s stats declared we had less than 100 Chinese travellers. Totally the opposite to the reviews we had read. Before we boarded, the ship had a total overhaul of staff, menu’s, restaurant names and Cruise Director (Ken totally nailed it) and entertainment staff.
This was a 12 day repositioning cruise to Singapore before going to dry dock for 1 month then spending the winter season in this area. Many ports had not seen a ship this large and bravo to the Captain on being able to get into the ports. These included Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam (2 ports) and Singapore. Originally our time slot for Hong Kong was 7am til 2am the following morning but sadly this was cut short to 5pm due to the continuing protests. The shuttle stop provided by Royal Caribbean was at one of the MRT stations which closed at 4pm due to ongoing protest so making it back to the ship became quite hairy! We just made it with 10 mins to spare. However on the plus side, we sailed out of Hong Kong as it got dark which really was a sight to see from a ship. The best view in our opinion.
The rest of the ports lived up to expectations and the excursions with Royal that we did do were well organised and fabulous.
Our cabin was perfect size for the little amount of time we spent there. All the restaurants were easily booked and seemed to improve as the week went on. Mostly the entertainment was great particularly the INXS tribute band. Sun beds on sea days was difficult if you did not get up by 8am to grab one,However, crew were going around and removing towels if no-one had been back to the beds within the hour.
We were lucky enough to witness a terrific storm at sea at 4am on the way to Hong Kong and we have never seen rain like it in Vietnam but this, because it was so hot, just made it more of a memory.
So the moral of the story is to not believe everything you read, go with an open mind and do some research before you sail.
On a final note, the icing on the cake for this sailing was our captain. Captain Sindre. What a star. He was to be seen everywhere on the ship, not shy with the cameras and spending time with all guests.
The land tour and then the cruise really made this a trip of a lifetime!
Perfect for the little time we spent there