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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