Why should Royal Caribbean be your NEXT Cruise Holiday
Many love cruise holiday but at the same time, many also wonder how does cruising feel and what does it offer. I was on board Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas for 7 nights cruising around Asia and it was indeed an eye opener.
Let’s look into an overview of my cruise itinerary before proceeding further. My cruise departed from Singapore and docked in Bangkok for a night then continued to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) for a day trip. We spent a night in Bangkok although you may choose to stay on board but we decided so as it was quite a distance between the port and city (2 hours drive one way), and of course would be a more relaxing journey for the 8 of us including small kids. We self-toured in Bangkok and HCMC and it was definitely manageable – we will come back to this later on.
So, getting back to the title of this blog, why should Royal Caribbean be your next holiday choice? Follow me through my cruise journey and you shall know why…
1) A stress-free holiday all planned for you
I have come across friends who would very much love to travel but are afraid of planning the trip and itinerary. They told me it literally stressed them out just thinking of the extensive research and planning. If that sounds like you, consider a cruise holiday as it doesn't require any planning in advance, as your activities are all ready on board. All you need to do is to get yourself to the departure port and you can leave the rest to Royal Caribbean. Prior to the trip, you will receive an email from Royal Caribbean regarding the check in procedure and baggage tag. It is very important to read this email and print out necessary documents. After you have done so, just sit back and enjoy your stress-free holiday. Having said that, if you are not taking the on-board excursion*, there will be some planning involved for your time spent in the destinations you are cruising to but shouldn’t be too difficult because the layover is usually a day or the most two. I will be sharing my journey in Bangkok and HCMC later on in this blog post.
2) Comfortable stateroom / cabin
We got ourselves a stateroom with balcony and it was more spacious than expected. The shower was good and the space was comfortable and adequate to move around, unlike the typical narrow cabin space. The bed could be setup as a double or twin. I also made sure I fully utilized my room's balcony by enjoying the sea breeze while reading a book or with a cup of tea in my hand. Simply relaxing!
3) Various activities & facilities on board to keep you entertained at all times
It’s a hotel on the sea! Royal Caribbean offers many facilities and interesting activities during each day of your cruise and you are sure to be fully entertained. Our fleet – Mariner of the Seas has a full sports deck with jogging track, basketball court, mini golf putting course and a rock-climbing wall!
There is also a main pool and a few hot tubs, with a big screen overlooking the pool area, playing different movies everyday. Our favorite spot is their ‘Adults only’ Solarium pool featuring 2 hot tubs at the more private area. Good news is the hot tub at Solarium is open 24 hours!
As we tried to avoid the crowd during the day, we visited the pool and hot tub at night after dinner hours.
Each day, different activities are offered to all guests of different ages. You are able to check the activity timetable and the movies that are available on that day on the ‘cruise compass’ that is sent to your room every evening before the next day, alternatively it can be checked on the touch screen monitor beside the elevators on every deck of the cruise.
There are different headliner shows every night featuring at their own theatre. The performances were amazing and our favorite one is the ‘Gold Art Duo’ acrobatic performance performed by Andrii and Ievgeniia. If this performance is available on your cruise, trust me don’t miss it! It was so fantastic that it earned a standing ovation.
There is also a video arcade* and kids center on board to entertain the young ones as well. To indulge in a luxurious and relaxing treatment, head to their Vitality Spa* on board which uses highly reputable “Elemis” product.
It’s time to show off your shower singing skill at their karaoke family time. There will be one and a half hour karaoke session everyday for those who love to sing.
For shoppers, go crazy on their mega sales that take place from time to time on watches, cosmetics, branded goods and etc. on board.
Other than that, they also have art auctions, jewelry auctions, pool deck games, parade and so on, and of course a 24 hour casino for those who’d love to try your luck! A 24 hour library is also available for those who love to read!
We found this lovely wedding chapel at the highest point of the ship (deck 15). It is called skylight chapel where the cozy chapel is lighted up by natural sunlight from the glass ceiling. This chapel definitely makes a perfect romantic place to say "I do".
Do take note there are different time slots for different activities. So it would be wise to keep a close eye on the cruise compass during your stay.
4) Eat all you can
Food is available at all times on board. Does that sound tempting already?! Meals were inclusive in the package price we paid for the cruise and we got the option to dine in Windjammer Restaurant, which is a buffet restaurant or the Main Dining Room. The latter serves by course but the great thing is you can order as much as you want. There is no limit on how many courses or how much food you can order - basically an ‘eat-all-you-can’ ala carte buffet. If you feel like munching on something after 12am, there is a 24 hour Café Promenade to satisfy your hunger. Free hot dog and free soft serve cone can be found on the main pool deck (available at certain time of day).
There are 2 dinner time-slots which can be pre-arranged prior to departure. The main seating is between 5.30pm and 6pm, and second seating around 8pm. You will be assigned to the same dining table every evening and assigned with the same waiter / waitress. We were delighted to have Alberto serving us, as he is one happy and energetic man who is passionate about his job. Thanks to him, our tummies were filled with delicious food every night. **ALERT** A series of food photos which may make you hungry is on the way!
Other than that, they also have more upscale restaurants which they refer to as ‘specialty dining’ for an extra cost. I cannot comment on their specialty dining, as we didn’t opt for that.
For our 7 nights cruise, we had a chance to dress up for 2 formal nights dinner. The number of formal nights depends on the number of nights you spend on the cruise. Although it is stated as formal dress code, it does not have very strict rules as to what to wear. Ladies are recommended to wear cocktail dress while men can go with long pants with collared shirt. No shorts or swimwear are allowed in the main dining room at all times.
On our last night of dinner, the whole kitchen and dining team came out to show their gratitude by singing and dancing!
5) Visiting multiple countries in a single trip
How often do you get to visit different countries in one trip or within a short timeframe? With Royal Caribbean, not only you get to enjoy the facilities and activities that the cruise offers, you also get to visit multiple places where the cruise docks. For our 7 nights Thailand and Vietnam cruise, we got to visit Bangkok and HCMC. Although both were brief visits as we had one night in Bangkok and a day trip in HCMC, we managed to do what we intended to do and visited their popular attractions.
We arrived Laemchabang (port in Bangkok) at 12pm on day 3. The check-out procedure was pretty smooth and we got out of the cruise by 12:30pm. Upon arriving at the port, you will see many taxi drivers or tour organizers approaching you for their services. If you are looking for a ride to or a tour in Bangkok, always remember this, bargain! We notice they put up a very exorbitant price for their transportation and after a round of bargaining, we managed to come to a deal of USD100 for a ride for 6 adults and 2 kids. It was not a bad deal but wasn’t the best deal still, but we were pretty exhausted that time and especially with 2 kids lingering around, we just wanted to settle down as soon as possible.
You may read my post HERE to know more about what to do in Bangkok for a night!
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Our second dock was HCMC where we berthed at a cargo port. We rented a 10-seater van for USD200 for a day. Upon arrival, we have to walk out of the port to meet our driver as there will be extra cost to pick up or drop off people within the port area. I would not say it is a pleasant walk with the scorching weather but it wasn’t too bad either. The journey to HCMC took about 1.5 hours one way.
For those who wish to relax on board, there are stalls operating in front of the ship for shopping and massage.
I have written what to do in Ho Chi Minh City HERE.
6) A different kind of experience on the sea and a REAL getaway
Imagine waking up in the middle of the sea, how cool is that?! With cruising, you get a different travel experience compared to your usual vacation. There will be no reception or data available when you are cruising (unless you buy the WiFi om board) hence you will be disconnected from the ‘outside world’, here meaning your work emails, text messages, phone calls etc. That’s when you have the opportunity to get some precious time for yourself to totally relax. I have not experienced that in a long time until my cruise trip despite my frequent travel. I actually felt good disconnecting myself from cell phones and Internet, and only focus on the moment I enjoy in the ship. It is also a great opportunity for you to bond with family and friends without the distraction of mobile phones.
If you are an early riser, or not, you must not miss catching the beautiful sunrise from the cruise deck. The view is worth the effort to get up early!
If you adore a full sky of stars, head to the helipad as the cruise staff told us that is the best spot for star gazing. Unfortunately we did not spot any spectacular star view during our stay as it was cloudy and the helipad was closed at certain times when the weather was not so good.
Planning for your next cruise holiday with Royal Caribbean already? Check out their attractive offers HERE!
Till next time~
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