Singapore 2021 Day 3/4 – Jacuzzi again, kids’ club, VR experience, Bingo game and fireworks and Home Sweet Home

It was another night of waking up but far less as all were tired from the lack of sleep. When we woke up, the sun was already high above the horizon and it was already 8. Getting out wasn’t too difficult and it a matter of time, we were at the Dining Room upper level having Chinese Dim Sum for breakfast. Again everything came in a set and while there was a variety of food to choose from, it really didn’t taste good. 

Dim Sum breakfast

Then we went over to the Kid’s club one more time to try our luck for the morning session, thinking that maybe it would be less popular so early in the day but we were wrong. It was again fully booked. We were offered to put in our names for a 11am session but at 45mins playtime so we just entered K’s name after he took a tour around and said he was interested to play in there.

Since we didn’t have any other activities planned, and we had a jacuzzi slot at the Zouk beach bar, we just changed into our swim wear and went for it. Retrieved the towels at the counter at the beach bar, we were thrilled to find the only 2 jacuzzi there and we had one to ourselves. It had an awesome view of the sea, a not too good view to the screen but I guessed having a dip there was still enjoyable (thankfully it wasn’t super hot yet). Mommy just enjoyed the sea breeze on the chairs by the deck, sheltered from the sun.

We returned to the Kid’s club at on time (and mommy returned to the room since only K and I can enter) and once we got in, we got our hands on the WII Nintendo consoles and were racing with another kid on the Mario Kart. 45mins zoomed by pretty quickly and we couldn’t even complete the second cup before the staff got us all packing.

Mommy was waiting for us at the entrance and we proceeded to the Lido to queue for lunch. There was a rather fast moving queue and soon we got ourselves a table too. K got himself some fries and table, I was having pizza and salad and mommy her Chinese dishes. At this point, I was not going to go for quantity as I felt pretty bloated from all the meals on the ship, although most were complimentary. After some fruits and ice cream of course, we went to the VR experience lab to enjoy a promotion that was happening.

My choice for lunch… because I was still feeling full…

At 1pm, there was a 40bucks for unlimited play promotion which we thought was quite worth it since most of the games there was 15bucks per play. So we got 1 for myself and 1 for K and we went to tried the various games available. I had to try the racing simulator which I sucked at, the roller coaster and a zombie game that got me a little dizzy. K was having a blast with his fruit zombie, roller coaster and Star Wars.

With the promo, one gets to wear the tag to identify who can play unlimited in that 1hr.

After the shenanigans at the VR lab, we went back to Level 6 and sat in front of the big screen for some coffee and popcorn, and this time, there was another game about guessing the logo. Though we weren’t in the game, it was quite fun trying to guess too.

This game was about guessing the logo by flipping one of the squares to reveal what’t under!

Then we tested our luck with Bingo, and didn’t win anything, for 3 sets of numbers for 30 bucks. More time and money spent at the arcade and the Monopoly game that we suddenly found so fun to play with tickets more easily to be won and then we exchanged 2 really cheap gifts from the tickets. Then we spent some time in front of the giant screen for the 3rd time to watch Croods 2. We didn’t complete the show as we had to go eat dinner which we had at the nearby “food court” equivalent but price wise “restaurant equivalent” just a floor up.

Ordered chicken rice and curry chicken with Prata and although the price was higher than back home, the food was delicious! It took some time for the food to come after delivery but it was worth the wait.

Then we had to go to the fireworks that was booked for at 815pm but the registration started at 745pm. The lifts were all worky as they locked the lifts to prevent access of people to level 17. We had to climb the stairs to our room quickly and then go up a few more floors to check in. Again we saw that there were guests who were trying their luck to enter despite not being able to make a booking. I also empathise with them as they may not have been that tech savvy and even aware of the booking requirements and had to settle for last resort and wait for guests for do not turn up so that they have a chance. I thought this would be something that maybe the cruise can see how it can be done to make it more inclusive.

We were brought to the decks and maintaining social distancing from the other groups, the dispatch was done slowly but effectively. And they set up ropes to split the groups so that we were really 1m apart from each other. I think in this aspect they did really well. After set up was completed, the laser show started. first with the light show moving to the tune of hits from Michael Jackson, and then another one which reminded us of the one we saw the day before. Then the finale was the fireworks after a countdown by the host. The fireworks were thankfully close to where we stood and we probably had one of the best view, and one sight that I have not seen for probably longer than I thought I would. Not too fancy but its still good.

After the event, the dispatch was again in place to maintain orderly return of the guests and before long, we were back in the room. Packed the bags and take our final bathtub bath before preparing for bed. After K went to dreamland, I moved my luggage and placed it outside our doors for collection, scheduled for 10pm-2am collection and went out to enjoy the chilly breeze at the corridor, jotting down the memories for the last few days. 

Day 4

The last day of cruise and I found myself awake with the sun already up above the horizon. To have enjoyed sunrise at the side of where we were facing was such a blessing though I could have got up earlier to see it. Nonetheless, it was cloudy and that provided still a nice view together with the islands as the ship headed back towards Singapore.

After the standard procedure of getting ready in the morning, we headed to the buffet breakfast only to find a long queue at the entrance and it wasn’t moving! As the restaurant was going to close in an hour’s time at 9am, I went to the Dining Room to find that there weren’t any queues there and called my family to join me since they were still queuing.

With quite a standard breakfast selection, we had more than enough with 2 sets of the meal itself which in my opinion was not bad. We returned to the room to wait for disembarkation according to the instructions provided by the ship the day before. This was of course to prevent overcrowded with controlled release of the guests. Since we were at one of the top floors at level 13, it wasn’t long after the 15 floor was cleared that it was our turn to disembark. The staff would knock on our doors and inform us to get ready to leave, in which we would exit the ship at level 7.

Then it was through the gangway, a few check outs/ins and going through immigrations, picking up our luggage that was all lined up for collection and going through security. After that, we can proceed to the carpark to pick up our car which parked there. There was a payment package for 4D3N cruise for $45 and this can be purchased at the automated machine on 2nd level next to the lift of the carpark. The only trouble is there is no way to drive to the pick up point from within the carpark itself – the pick up point can only be accessed when entering the carpark.

And that familiar view meant that we are back in Singapore

While this isn’t the best kind of travel for me, this would still be the only way to escape from Singapore for a getaway without the need to go into quarantine. As my family has done the Royal Caribbean cruise before, the opinion is that there was a much better experience on that cruise compared to this. While a lot of the poorer experience was a result of a combination of more of the experiences requiring more payment, an app that was not as user friendly, staff being more rude, less activities available to participate and mediocre food, I think this is in exchange for a more budget friendly trip, a room with a bathtub and a boat with more kids friendly facilities. Also with the knowledge that a large percentage of the guests on the cruise would be families with kids since it was the school holiday, it can then be expected that the free facilities catered for the kids will be always crowded. We were fortunate enough to get the booked activities for the entire trip with the exception of the kids’ club, we have seen older folks who wanted to see the fireworks but couldn’t as they didn’t have access to the app and didn’t know how to book and had to queue and wait for slots for those who didn’t turn up. In that aspect, the cruise may need to do better.

Singapore 2021 Day 2 – Pool and waterpark, ship activities, magic show and laser show

It wasn’t a really restful night as K as woken up a couple of times, probably not used to sleeping on his own and on a sofa bed. That also meant that I had to get up a couple of times with him as well.

However, for whatever reason, I got up at 7 and checking the direction of our balcony, I am thrilled to know that we were facing the East direction. K was also awoken at the same time, which was great considering we had to get to breakfast early today. While everyone else got prepared, simultaneously I also got to enjoy the sunrise out at the horizon, a little cloudy but I will take it.

Sunrise view from our balcony

We left for the breakfast at the main buffet restaurant known as the Lido and was given at table at the entrance pretty quickly. It wasn’t really busy probably because people on cruise don’t wake up that early. There was quite a variety of food and I was pretty impressed by the presence of eggs benedict! The food variety were standard choices from an international selection, though the quality of food wasn’t fantastic. The staff did a good job serving the buffet tho since I didn’t see long lines of disgruntled customers.

We finished our breakfast rather quickly and returned to the room to get into our swim gear for swimming! Since we already gotten a 1 hr slot at the main pool and the jacuzzi at 9am, we were going to enjoy it. Arrived and we lined up to check in and retrieve the towels. We managed to get a sun bench and left our things there. Mommy and K proceeded straight to the hot tub jacuzzi and I tried the main pool. The water was quite cold though that didn’t stop the swimmers from going in! The size of the pool was actually quite pathetic comparing to a standard size pool (but what do you expect?) made worse by the surrounding ankle deep pool perimeter and the depth of the pool was slightly more than 1m deep. K came in to the main pool to do a bit of the kicking but found it too cold to continue and prefer to stay at the jacuzzi. While we had booked the jacuzzi, it meant that we had the full usage of it for the entire 1hr for 2 persons (that meant 1 of us have to stay outside) and this was strictly controlled by the staff there. At times when we left the jacuzzi, other people would use but we wouldn’t mind as long as it was returned when we wanted to use. 

The jacuzzi at the foreground and the main pool is at the back

We didn’t stay the entire 1hr and after 30mins, K wanted to go to the waterpark. We stood outside the waterpark, second in line and found that the waterpark was not opened to the public yet and only so at 10am. Probably the kids from the Palace was getting priority usage as we saw people playing inside. While we lamented the “unfairness” in this (as some of the guests there have discussed with us), it would have been better to made it clear upfront. As we stood in the sun waiting in line, mommy and I entertained ourselves with some morning aerobics that was being taught on stage by a trainer, except K who wasn’t having any of that and was getting annoyed with waiting. It’s the school holidays and apparently all the kids were onboard.

I went to the booking station to try and get another slot for the next day leaving mommy and K to continue in line because ultimately, the waterpark has to have one adult to accompany one kid. The line at the booking station was long as usual, and when its time for me to book, I was informed that all slots for swimming and jacuzzi was already filled except a jacuzzi slot at 10-11am at the Zouk Beach bar – I took it.

Returning to the waterpark, i found mommy and K already inside and doing a few rounds of slides while the line outside continued to form. Since my time was already up for the pool or the jacuzzi, I could only watch from outside. The sun was blazing hot, so hot that I am no longer wet from the pool but already starting to sweat! K didn’t stay too long, and they were soon out as the staff prompted mommy and K to leave to allow others in line to use the waterpark. Upon exit, mommy and K went to queue for another slide, but this queue was faster since it was only a slide and it was guaranteed to move as people complete their slide. 2 rounds of that and we returned back to the room for a quick shower.

The faster moving slide though there is a queue too!

Spent some time on the room playing Nintendo Switch (which somehow I failed to connect to the TV) and then we left for lunch. We choose the Dining Room (upper room this time) serving Chinese for our lunch place and was served the set soon after settling down. I may be still feeling a little bloated from the morning breakfast but the food quality here was also a little lacklustre though portions were definitely enough for the 3 of us. 

To help us digest, we took a walk around the cruise ship to explore. We first made a booking for dinner at the Umi Uma Japanese restaurant but was advised that all the slots for Teppanyaki and their Korean cuisine promotion fully was taken for the same day and the next day. We could still have their ala carte, but as much as it was disappointing, we made a reservation. 

There was a luxury shopping spot with mostly watches and some leather products and jewellery from some high end brands but nothing caught our fancy (or rather, we can’t really afford them). 

Shopping options of mostly luxury items like watches and bags

We wanted to go to the afternoon session of the kid’s club that begin at 2pm, and knowing how high in demand the kid’s club was, we went at 130pm and found the queue formed already. And the space have all been taken up! (only 15 children per time of 2 hrs session). What were we thinking, we were up against Singaporeans, professional queuers! With nothing much to do, we went to the drink bar at the reception level 6 and ordered a cake and some coffee and watch a game show that was being hosted by the staff. It was about guessing the name of the Korean band that was showed onscreen and the winner with the most correct guesses would get some prize. Later, as they started to sell popcorn, we also got ourselves a small bucket for 3bucks which we brought back to the room eventually.

A queue in front of the Kid’s club

The rest of the afternoon was spent teaching K some maths times table, a bit of TV (K had a sudden liking for Boonie Bears) while I took a quick shut eye followed by UNO card game. In an instance, we were just 10mins from the Magic show that we booked for the 545pm slot and we quickly rushed to the Zodiac theatre to check in.

Queuing up to enter the Zodiac theatre for the magic show

The 45mins show was in a pretty huge theatre but due to safe distancing, it was only at most half filled. The show consisted a mix of juggling and mostly magic and interactions with the audience was down so differently, each step was managed with quite an emphasis on sanitisation. The tricks were pretty good I think though I was expecting something more wowing, as the ones that were shown were more the “how did he know that” type. 

K got himself a magic trick box set and some light sticks for 18bucks and we returned to the room to dress up for our dinner at the specialty Japanese restaurant of Umi Uma. Ordered the udon for K, a California hand roll and sushi for myself (still full from the constant eating) and Salmon for mommy, and we were satisfied at the end of the delicious meal.

Sun hanging low

After dinner, we went to level 6 again to walk around and this time, to the small games arcade there to play a couple of games to try win some tickets. We managed to get more tickets on one of the ball machines with a stroke of luck! Then we went on to explore the top deck of the ship since Mommy haven’t seen the Zouk Beach club that had an open air cinema. We also visited the Palm court that was supposedly a bar with a view and then we stayed on at the level 18 to view the laser show at 9pm, which we didn’t realise that it was still available for viewing and that it didn’t require prior booking!

That was the last of the activity before returning to the room and preparing for bed. Played with a couple of the magic tricks from the box set we got earlier before going to bed.

Singapore 2021 Day 1 – Pre-embarkation Covid tests, check in and exploring the ship

It has been more than a year since we got out of Singapore for a holiday (due to the pandemic) and during the March 1-week school holidays, we were presented with one opportunity where we could once more utilise our passport! A cruise on Dream Cruises! To where? Nowhere!

On cruise day, we arrived pretty 30 mins earlier than our actual check in time. I happened to know a friend who shared his experience onboard about programs being booked up as early as within 2 hours of embarkation and that got us a little worried. So immediately after K’s Sunday’s lesson, we went to get lunch before driving to the cruise center directly.

Entering the carpark, there were staff controlling the entry of vehicles at the multi-storey parking and probably only allowing cruise guests to park. After showing her our e-tickets, we drove to the 3rd storey where there were some spaces left, to park our car there.

Got out our luggages and proceeded down the ramp to the 2nd storey and thats when everything seemed a little chaotic. Many staff were on the ground helping guests move around and one asked if we wanted to check in our luggage or take the Covid test? I didn’t know the exact sequence and so I asked, which first?  To which he advised it would be better to check in the bulky luggage before going for the Rapid Antigen test.

I took the luggage to the counters to the right and checked in my luggage together with the proof of my e-ticket, a process that was rather quick since there weren’t any queues when I was there, although I had to do it myself while the rest of my family stand back, to prevent overcrowding, and there was also quite a stringent control of personnel going to the queue.

Dropping of the luggage

I receive the luggage tag in return and joined my family at the queue to go to the 3rd level for our Covid test, accessible by lift. It was actually quite a long wait since there were only 2 lifts and the lifts were serving lots of people from everywhere. And people who paid more for the stay at the Palace had priority and could jump straight to the front. But I guessed we could afford the wait.

Sign to the Covid test

After finally getting to board the lift up to the 3rd floor, we checked in with our tracetngether app (and K with his token) and proceeded to sit at a spot to fill up a pre departure survey. We actually had printed the hardcopy of the survey but was informed that it was updated and we had to do it online, via a QR code. Not too difficult, just requiring last name, birthdate and ticket number.

The receipt after the survey

Then we queued to get dispatched to the testing stations which was short one too and soon we ended up at one of the nearest station. K had previously done the PCR test in his previous cruise and was scared and so mommy and I went ahead first. The test was using a flexible swab to poke into the nostrils which I thought was pretty quick and not too uncomfortable and it was done in a matter of seconds. After that, we then proceeded to the waiting results waiting rest station that was segregated by colors and indicated by the color of the stickers pasted on our passport.

The results took about 15mins (as we waited, we checked the hardcopy itinerary that was given to us before entering the waiting area) and with the firm negatives (as expected), we then walked back to the lift to go to the check in on the 2nd floor. Since all these activities took quite some time in total, I guessed we made a good choice to have lunch first! The only thing I thought i should have done as well was to go to the toilet before all this. Another check out/in with tracetogether (different places and therefore different check in) before proceeding through the security checks. After the checks, we went to the counters to get our room cards before going to the 3rd floor, another waiting area to wait for boarding.

There were people but weren’t overcrowded, we made ourselves comfortable, while people were being dispatched to board. As the announcements were made, I realised that they were calling out to people in groups and suspected the group were by embarkation time. Ours is actually at 345pm, and we were 1.5hrs early! I thought then it was useless to go so early since we had to wait anyway.

K read his comics and had a packet of snacks before we went to the toilet. After we returned, we found mommy rushing us to go as we could already board the ship! We quickened our pace and were last in line at the immigrations. K went with me as he was yet to be able to go thru the automated gates but we got stuck there as somehow it took a little while for the computer to complete the biometric scan on me, and worst off for K, who couldn’t get it to work. We ended up escorted to the office where K tried again and didn’t work and had to use his thumbprints instead.

Mommy was already waiting outside when we were done. Continuing thru, there were more tracetogether check out/in before hitting the gangway and finally onboard, welcomed by the cruise staff. Scanned our room cards (out of the many times to scan as we found out) before moving to the lifts up one level. Exiting the lift, another staff scan our card again before diverting us to another lift where we could go to our room, finally!

Entering our deluxe room, I found it rather small but as expected on a ship. There was small balcony but at least the toilet came with a bathtub! We quickly got into the App and was trying to figure out how to book stuff. After fussing around, we found that we couldn’t even book a single thing that we had to go find out from the staff!

We proceeded to the 6th floor main reception and checked with the counter staff who taught us how. The only thing bookable were the shows at the Zodiac theatre and we could just book it by accessing the Entertainment section. We tried and found that all slots from the next and following day was unbookable and thought that they were fully booked! We were rather angry that we couldn’t watch this magic show despite being proactive in trying to book it.

Then we went up to the pool and again there was another set of rules. There will only be one booking per day per room and we could choose to book either for today or tomorrow. So we thought we would use the chance to book today for a more confirm slot tomorrow! There was already a queue booking for spaces at the pool and while waiting, I tried booking the magic show and to my surprise, it worked! Mommy was in disbelief and tried booking an earlier slot and got it too! Maybe the booking was opened yet but still, the app was still bad as we couldn’t cancel the one that we didn’t want. While mommy lined up to book the pool, I brought K to explore the other places.

On the 17th floor, we walked over to where the activities place was and found that the activities there were all first come first serve basis. For table tennis and mini golf, we just had to help ourselves with the balls and bats/clubs, so if it runs out, you gotta wait. There were obstacle courses and a wall climb, meant for people 1.4m height and above and so for K who’s shorter, he could play the smaller obstacle course which entertained him a bit. There were also basketball court and football fields, that require booking but since we weren’t interested, we didn’t enquire further or check them out. We were looking forward to the mini golf tho but as it was just a long stretch fake grass with a couple of holes along the way with no start point, it was disappointing.

This was the mini golf. Unlike the real ones with starting positions, this didn’t have.

There was also a giant chess set there which I found it pointless since I can’t play. 

We walked over to VR experience lab, which was like a big place that had all the 3D/4D games but all of these costs money. There was the usual shooter simulator but K didn’t want to do that as it was a little scary. There was a roller coaster simulator but mommy didn’t want to do that as it was a little expensive for 15bucks per person for about a minute and a half of play. In the end, we spent 4bucks for a Star Wars shooter game and another 4bucks for a fruit ninja game, which i found it rather cool.

This was the VR experience lab

We returned to the room for a rest and K finished up his homework from the earlier class. As our luggage have not arrived, we couldn’t bath so we went to have dinner first. At the Dream Dining room, we choose the western meals today. Ordered a Seabass and Chicken with salad and calamari rings and K had kids meal. It was not too bad, considering that there’s no need to pay for it. Since we were there before 6, there weren’t many people as well.

After dinner, we went to the tiny arcade to play the games there. There weren’t many games for K to play tho he tried one Mario vs Sonic olympics and another fish catching game. It was rather expensive as one play is 4bucks! Expectedly, we didn’t spend much time there.

Returned back to the room and it was TV time. There was a safety briefing over the PA and before long, we were leaving the port for the international sea. K enjoyed his bathtub and some more TV before I turned the sofa bed into his own bed. We spent the rest of the night on Wifi, 25bucks each day for 3 days, for 2 devices before turning to bed.

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Escape Cruise to Nowhere 2021

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Cruise to Nowhere:

Total duration 4D3N

Embarkation at 2pm on 14th Mar and disembarkation at 930am on the 17th Mar

Day 1 – Pre-embarkation Covid tests, check in and exploring the ship
Day 2 – Pool and waterpark, ship activities, magic show and laser show
Day 3 – Jacuzzi again, kids’ club, VR experience, Bingo game and fireworks 
Day 4 – Breakfast and disembarkation

It was the school holidays and for the first time in years we didn’t have a place to escape to. Having had a nice experience cruising to Nowhere on another ship (in December, without me), we decided to give Genting Cruises a try, and at the same time, get out of the country even if it meant to nowhere.

Budget nature: Costly if including paying activities

On top of the room charges that were paid upfront, the ship has quite a few facilities that require paying these don’t come cheap. The arcades were minimum SGD3 per game play and those games don’t last long, the VR experiences are SGD15 per game play. This is literally Genting resort on a ship, in SGD tho. There are 3 restaurants offering complimentary food and a few snack corners but also paying specialty restaurants that have much better quality food, and these are not cheap. Bingo games are $30 for 3 tickets.

Complexity: Manageable

Due to the ongoing pandemic, administration plus Covid tests takes quite a awful amount of check out and check in. Though these interruptions are not going to take up too much time, when you have your tracetogether app on, it does become quite annoying to just tap the cards and show the check in. The Covid Rapid Antigen test was quite fast to be honest, but then the queuing and waiting for the test and waiting for the result will take almost an hour at best to complete.

Using the Dream Cruise app was hassle as it was not clear which activities need to be booked through the app and which not. We only found out after enquiring through the reception and also finding out why some shows couldn’t be booked.