Ahoy Captain~~ Who lives in the pineapple under the sea..
The Royal Caribbean Cruise has been rated as one of the more affordable (if you take the lowest class) yet luxurious cruise. Based in Florida, this Norwegian-Florida cruise company has established a brand name for itself in this industry. With 22 fleets under its wing, it has expanded beyond the Caribbean, the United States and Europe. It now has presence in the middle east, Asia and even Australia and New Zealand!
To date, this is the second cruise that I have taken. The first time was 9 years ago where I took an overnight cruise to Port Klang (one way). Back then, Star Cruise was so popular! However, as the on board duration was less than 12 hours, I did not have an enjoyable time at all. The room was small and cramp and the activities (9 years ago) were limited. 9 years later, I’m on this majestic Mariner of the Sea which can accommodate up to 3,600 guests; a far cry from Star Cruise biggest ship – Super Star Virgo (1, 870). If you think that 3,600 is a huge capacity, wait till you see Caribbean’s latest addition: Quantum of the Sea. This cruise actually has iFly and this cool jewel shaped capsule and even bumper cars and zipline!
Alright, back to my humble experience on board the Mariner of the Sea. In Spring 2013, this ship had relocated to Asia. It started off cruising the Shanghai – Incheon – Jeju – Busan route for about 6 months before setting foot on Singapore in Nov 2013. Currently, it runs 3N, 4N and 5N cruises, covering ports like Port Klang (Kuala Lumpur), Penang, Phuket, Ho Chi Minh. The cruise would sail continuously, to and from Singapore from now till March 2014, and then it sets off on its China-Korea route again. With that being said, there’s a large number of Chinese crew on board this ship. Even the American emcee/host/crew director can speak a bit of Chinese! Alright I’m done with the long introduction.
[22nd November 2013, Friday]
We reached the Marina Bay Cruise Center at approximately 10 minutes to 1pm. Checking in was a breeze. The first part was the luggage bag scan. Then, we were given a form to declare that we do not have any flu symptoms. Next, we went to collect our sea pass (which will be your room key, credit card, identity pass for the next 3 days).
Before entering the ship, we had to surrender our passport which we will only get back on the last night.
The ship looks really majestic and grand! (Alright my only comparison that I had was Star Cruise) It has a total of 15 decks, ice skating area, basketball court, rock climbing wall etc. After entering the cruise, we dashed straight to our rooms to deposit our luggage bag. By the way, for more convenient boarding and departure, pack your things into a convenient carry on baggage and DIY.
I got the lowest & cheapest class stateroom – the windowless interior stateroom.The room is pretty decent. A king size bed which can be separated into 2 super single beds. There’s walking space (yay!), once again, a lot better than my star cruise experience 9 years ago where I had to sleep on foldable bunk beds. and Yes, the toilets were bigger than the ones I had in New York. At least I don’t have to bump into the four corners while changing my clothes! Maybe due to the lack of windows, the air was rather stale and dry and that’s the only complain I have for the room.By the way, toothbrush is not provided, towels – yes in 3 sizes, so please remember to bring your own!
Then, it was lunch time at Deck 11, Windjammer Cafe aka Jade. I still can’t differentiate the reason behind the dual names but basically both are the same place. It is a buffet spread of really random delicacies. Ranging from Indian cuisine to Western to Chinese to Spanish to Mexican food (really random!), it was hard to not try everything!
Anyway after lunch, something embarrassing happened. I actually dozed off at the dining table!! Well, I didn’t sleep the night before due to unforeseen circumstances. I ended up squirming back to my room in the half-dazed self and poof! the entire afternoon was gone T_T
Woke up rather punctually close to 5:45pm for our pre-booked dinner at some rhapsody blue deck 3 restaurant. Whether you belong to the sound of music restaurant at deck 4 or 3 or 5, it is all the same food and the same place. There’s a strong emphasis on sanitization in this ship. There are purell hand sanitizer everywhere, especially outside the restaurants where they have crew holding the bottles, reminding you to sanitize your hands before eating!
Alright the dining hall looks pretty grand with a beautiful grand staircase in the middle (feels similar to the one in titanic). Everyone should have already a reserved seating at a specific table. Mine was number 300+ with like 10 people on this long curved table.
View from my table – Sentosa Cove. The boat was only gonna set sail at approximately 7pm.
After sitting down, you would be greeted by a smiley and polite waiter/ess who will be the one serving you throughout your entire cruise. They would be more than happy to interact with you, chat with you, ask about your day etc. (I guess Caribbean spends extra effort to ensure that they are really hiring good crew with the correct attitude) They will assist to put the napkin from the table to your lap, then passing you the menu of the day. It is a 3 course meal, appetizer-mains-dessert. There is a section on classics (which is available for all your days in the cruise) and another section which changes daily. If I’m not wrong, there’s about 8 to 10 choices. Also, there’s a section for premium food which if of course, payable; and a wine menu too.
After selecting your food, they will serve you bread (delicious!) which comes in like 3 to 4 choices. You can ask for more servings. It can be eaten with butter, which is provided on the table. The first dish that I had was this prawn/shrimp appetizer. Apart from the presentation and plating, the taste was rather average. (Then again, what can I expect from mass production)
The main course I have chosen, was of course – prime ribs. Maybe I expected a little too much, this dish was a major disappointment. The steak was super well-done. It tasted like it was probably steamed/stewed. It was a struggle trying to finish off this weird-tasting beef =/
After finishing the main course, you will be presented with a dessert menu. Once again, there are the classic options and the section which changes daily. The one that attracted me was none other than the creme brulee! Full marks for presentation and maybe a 6/10 for taste.
However, the dessert my mum got was fantastic! Low fat mango pudding (If I’m not wrong). It’s not on the classic section and it was only available on the first night.
To end it off, you will be served with your choice of tea or coffee. (I love this flavour)
If you’re on the first sitting at 5:45pm, do the waiter/ess a favour by leaving early. They have to clear the tables and change the sheets by 8:45pm, for the second seating. After dinner, since the casino wasn’t open yet, we roamed around a little while before going to the Savor Theatre for the show. Since we were very early, we had the luxury of choosing the best seats – 5th or 6th row from the front. However, if you love being in the limelight, you should take the front row as the chances for audience participation will be higher.
Our host/emcee for the entire cruise was Dan Dan Mian (I bet he got this nickname from the china route) and [Hello] Kitty (Chinese national). They were really good emcees and you will see them on your TV channels everyday, providing you activity and itinerary information. It’s really tiring for them to take on this role despite having to handle their existing roles as cruise director and activities manager respectively.
Then, it was a set by singer/juggler David Dimuzio. Pretty amazing. He covered one or two chinese songs as well and his juggling act was really cool.
After approximately 30 mins set, we were done with the show and Casino royale is so strategically located and we walked into it while find our way around. and there was where a few hours of my night was donated to. Well, it was rather cool cause I won a little on the first day playing “big/small”. FYI, my bets are pathetically small yet I get the thrill of winning. On the first day, I also eyed upon this cool jackpot machine and how this person playing always wins something..
Feeling contended with my small winnings, I retired back into my cosy little windowless stateroom. The bed is very comfortable and it was a deep deep deep sleep.
[23rd November 2013, Saturday]
The ship docked at Port Klang at approximately 7am the next day.
It had been a tough decision on whether to get out of the ship or not. The shore excursions were pricey and there was only one reason I wanted to visit Kuala Lumpur for – the delicious crumbs ice cream at Pavilion Mall. Was it worth the 30~40 USD shore excursion? We had breakfast at the Rhapsody Blue dining hall at deck 3. Unlike last night’s dinner, there was no assigned table. We were given a menu to choose how you want your eggs to be done (scrambled, omelette, benedict, sunny-side, poached etc.) Yes, there was the delicious orange juice! The grilled tomato was nice and the hashbrown goes perfect with that chilli sauce. I love that chili sauce they have on their tables. It is absolutely tasty and I wish I could bring it home with me. I had it with almost everything. The eggs were.. overcooked. It was a 6/10.
After breakfast, my mother and I soon realised that there were practically nothing much to do in the ship. Casino wasn’t open (only open in international waters); the activities available were predominantly attracting families with young children; the movies available didnt entice me either. I had no plans to splash water in the pool, nor visit the gym or sun tan. Wasn’t in a group to enjoy activities like basketball or soccer and neither was I fit enough for rock climbing or roller blading.
It soon struck into our head that alighting was the best option available. Took a stroll out to the cruise terminal to recee the area. Apparently, you don’t require your passport at all! All you need is your sea pass to leave and enter the ship!
To my greatest delight, there’s a free wifi zone in the cruise centre and I googled and found that there’s a huge shopping mall in Port Klang city – AEON shopping mall. We went down to the first floor and found a taxi counter and they quoted us 100RM for a return journey to AEON shopping mall (2o mins ride away). Overpriced but trust-able. (We learned from another person on board the cruise that you can actually attempt to walk out to the main road where there are other taxis. Out there, you will be able to negotiate for a better price. Perhaps going by meter, it would only be RM20 to 30 each way) Soon we were off in that taxi to the mall!
Made arrangements with the driver for pick up at 4pm at the entrance. AEON is a very normal mall with the usual international brands like Guess, Dorothy Perkins etc. Also, there were the whole lot of usual fast food and also this food street with a lot of restaurants ranging from HK, Korean, Jap, Thai etc. We ended up eating mookata because it was cheap. Heh. 49RM for everything.
It was aimless shopping for us as we had nothing in mind to buy. Bought a few items from DP. I’m not sure if it’s just me, I think that malaysia is going through some massive inflation right now. They 100percent gummy sweet that I love to eat is so expensive now!! I know somewhere somehow I ended up at the arcade playing the basketball machine. I had few days of muscle ache after that. I used to be able to play 2 to 3 games straight. We also ate the famous herbal jelly, right outside the supermarket. I don’t exactly like it because the herbal taste is so strong! But I guess it must have some kind of health benefit which justifies the price and the taste. Also, McDonald’s in Malaysia is currently selling the supposedly super uber popular hello kitty! I was tempted to get one for the sake of getting one but I didn’t like them enough. Ended up trying their blueberry pie which was nothing fantastic. After which, we waited for our taxi, which came punctually at 4pm, and proceeded back to the cruise center. Grabbed a magnum from the convenience shop. If I’m not wrong, it cost 6 RM. Not too cheap but argh I wanted to eat ice cream. Then, I proceeded up to level 2 for the free wifi. Didn’t really want to get back to the cruise early but ahh, I still had to tear myself away from technology.
We returned to the ship by scanning our sea pass and belongings. No customs no passport chops no nothing! After throwing the shopping loot back to the stateroom, I decided to take a walk around the ship since I slept through the whole afternoon the day before.
This is what the cruise center look like from the cruise. You have to walk this really long passageway. Surrounding the cruise center, you can see that there’s is almost nothing in its vicinity. The only way was to explore was to cab out or join the shore excursions. Now for a photo deck tour.
So amazing to actually have a rock climbing wall on a cruise! And also a mini golf challenge.
A full size basketball court. I waited for so long for a free ball.. but it was worth it. I haven’t touched basketball for a few months already.
Random pavilion which can’t seem to be themed.
The pool area. brought my swimsuit but didn’t use. the walk from the pool to my stateroom was simply too far and the thought of shivering back to bathe scares me.
Ideal photo taking spot!
Sunset and the clouds.
And this is my favourite place in the deck. Self-Serve yoghurt ice cream! I love to DIY and I love the lack of cream taste.
Then at approximately 5:45pm, we went for our sit-in 3 course dinner. The appetizer which I have chosen today:
Apparently, the waiter heard me complaining about the large eggplant and by luck/chance/courtesy, he gave me an extra bowl of soup.
My main course tonight was Teriyaki Chicken with fried rice. Average Tasting.
My mother had the tiger prawn dish and she was so ‘amazed’ with the size of tiger prawns. It was delicious though, only the prawns.
Dad’s dish was black pepper beef and rice.
Dessert was a nicely plated slice of tiramisu. It was oh-kay. However, after dinner, we realised that the desserts came from the same kitchen as upstairs and there were a whole tray of tiramisu on the buffet table. Same pattern, same same.
Once again, we had nothing to do after dinner and my dad suggested to go up to deck 11 café for fruits. I ended up eating a couple of items there too. bad bad bad choice. well, the best thing about cruises is the free flow food right? heh =p
After that, we proceeded to watch the magic show: JC Sum & Magic Babe Ning. Pretty cool, but there were some parts which I actually dozed off. anyway, we were on the upper deck looking down so I guess we couldn’t really appreciate and concentrate on the show as much. After the magic show, we didn’t have much idea of what to do and we ended up at the casino again. This was the night my mum actually got 500 for the dragon bonus and our total earnings hit $50. (We were playing 1 cents.. so $50 = 5,000 credits. it was quite a big deal) Because we won, we left. Once again, I was staring badly at the roulette table but it was simply too crowded and smokey. There was only one roulette table with min $1 bet. The other table was min $10. For such a noob like me, I didn’t even dare to play. Even though, that was my aim at the start of the trip -> to play a table game like poker, blackjack or roulette.
[24th November 2013, Sunday]
Today was an all-sail day which means that we didn’t have to wake up early. Can’t remember what time I finally crawled out of bed. Since we were pretty late, we couldn’t make it to the breakfast table at deck 3.
Went up to windjammer/jade cafe for the buffet spread. The only thing I hate about buffet spread is that I tend to over eat. I love the orange juice!! I think I drank 3 cups that morning.
After lunch, we went to watch the ice skating show which was really amazing! They were all so talented and I guess it was the first time I get to watch an ice skating show live! The set was well organized and choreographed. There were a few falls but overall, it was a great performance! You should not miss this show! It’s really the best!
I can’t really remember much of what we did the whole day but I know we played Bingo somewhere in the afternoon. It was fun but really an expensive type of fun. For the first round, I was standing up (short of one number to bingo) and the second round, my mum was standing up too! However, none of us won. If I’m not wrong, there were quite a few junior bingo winners! aww =(
It’s not the traditional bingo whereby you need to form 5 lines. You have to form the formation according to their desired patterns! Fun but the prizes was a little disappointing. Think it was a couple of hundreds and that’s it? People even have to share the prize if there’s more than one winner!
After Bingo, I didn’t know what to do but I ended up in the casino for the third time. Waited for my lucky jackpot machine and the session ended with me losing my earnings from the previous days and a little more out of my pocket T_T
Lesson learnt: It is true that you will lose a lot more than you earn in the casino. Somehow, if you win you should just stop entirely and stop pinning hopes on being lucky twice. Then again, I think the amount of money I lost was enough to justify as entertainment on board the ship. I really did spend a lot of hours there.
After my final casino session, I went to the deck to get another cone of self serve yoghurt. Awesome. It was followed by some stoning at the basketball court.
And also, as this was our last day, we had to collect our passports at the designated timing too. It was very well organized and we didn’t have to queue at all!
We had this formal-dressing dinner that night and I insisted on taking a shower to wash off all those casino smoke off my hair =/ Anyway, I guess majority of the people did wear nicer clothes on the final night. You should really just dress decent enough to blend in. Some of the foreigners were really sporting and they turned up with beautiful dresses and even head accessories to spice up the atmosphere. Really lovely!
Dinner was once again, pretty average on the tasted.
I had the beef once again, despite the poor experience on the first night. It was slightly better.
Can’t seem to decipher this picture. It was either duck or chicken.
Had caramel Souffle for dessert. It was alright.
There was this really cute segment which the waiter/esses prepare for us. They gathered at the front, spinning napkins and holding lightsticks and sang yue liang dai biao wo de xin.
Then they ended off their dance with Gangnam Style. it’s been more than a year.. i have no idea what’s the big deal with the song..
After dinner, I resisted entering the casino because I’m all squeak and clean from the earlier bath. We went to the Lotus Lounge to watch some people sing the karaoke (mainly senior citizen) or rather just to chill on the chairs. Then, we proceeded to the theater for the last production show of the cruise. We went early to get good seats.
This production is like a jumbled musical with no clear story line. It was just random scenes from no where and with amazing voices from the cast. Just something very pleasant and enjoyable. I was pretty impress with all the props and backdrop too! It was well organized and I can tell that a lot of hard work had been spent on this original production. Thumbs Up!
After the show, that had been a muffled plan of chilling at the bar and having a drink but I don’t know why it didn’t become reality and we just moved back to our staterooms. Wasn’t a bad choice either. I was tired and I had to work the next day. (Refused to take an extra day of leave.)
When we reached our stateroom, there will be information of the timings to leave the ship (to facilitate baggage collection if you’re using the luggage service) If you don’t have any baggage and only on hand carry, you can just proceed straight out at the earliest timing.
[25th November 2013, Monday]
Since I had to work, we had to be on the earliest timing out of the cruise. Grabbed a couple of pastries at the cafe at deck 5. Then proceeded to the door which we would be leaving from. If I’m not wrong, it was 7:15am. Waited for about 10 to 15 minutes for the door to open and clearing the customs didn’t take too long either. We were out at the cruise terminal at about 7:40am and THANKFULLY, my brother could fetch me to work and my parents back home.
Otherwise, you would have to wait for the super irregular public bus, take a taxi or park your car overnight at the parking facilities.
It’s a really really really inconvenient cruise terminal =/
In fact, the timing was so well planned that I even ended up being early at work =)
That’s it for my cruise adventure. Feel free to ask me any questions regarding the cruise and I’ll be more than happy to assist you. It has been a great experience and the only regret that I have is not trying the Johnny Rockets food outlet. It was really nice when I had it in the USA. However, I guess fast food isn’t a popular choice among the parents thus I didn’t pursue for that option. If I’m not wrong, it’s just $4.95 USD extra.
With that, I’ll be back again for the pre-planning for my next trip which will take place next year. Here’s a small hint to the place I’m visiting, My tickets cost $120 and the place has four letters: _ _ _ _