In Jan, we went for a cruise with Mr H’s family and colleagues. It coincided with the same day as X’s actual birthday. We took the Mariner of the Seas by The Royal Caribbean. The last time I took a cruise was 16 years ago on the Superstar Virgo. My vague memories were of the small cabin room and limited activities on board.
We reached at 1pm. We had to clear the immigration check, baggage check and to do check-in of our cabins at the cruise centre itself. At the baggage check area, the security wanted us to surrender our travel kettle which we could only collect upon return to Singapore. They informed us that it was the cruise company’s policy to disallow heating equipment such as slow cooker on board. All perishable food items, such as fruits and meats, were also not allowed. Fellow parents, you might want to note that you would not be able to cook your own meals for the kids. To be honest, there was so much food on board (even congee) that there was really no need to cook. We had been worried about the cleanliness of their in-room kettles but it was an unfounded worry too.
On Deck 12 whilst docked at Singapore
At our balcony stateroom where the boys loved the view
We had opted for the balcony stateroom because it was larger. Had we booked earlier, I would have opted for the Family stateroom. Unfortunately, it was sold out. There was also a balcony stateroom which could sleep 4 persons but it was also sold out at the point of booking. Had we gotten that, we would not have to squeeze with the kids on a king-sized bed.
We headed up to Deck 11 for a late lunch. The buffet spread was average in my opinion but the sheer crowd gave me a headache. Apparently, it was the only restaurant opened during Day 1 so everyone was there. It was almost 3pm when we were done with lunch and explored the ship as it set off from Singapore for Penang.
Sail away party performance – at 430pm
The amazing thing about the Royal Caribbean cruises was the number of activities packed on board.
The kids were roaring to jump into the pool which we obliged. It was quite windy so by 6pm, we hustled the kids back to the cabin. They were hungry so we ordered room service which was also included in the package. The prawn gyoza was very good so they wolfed down 2-3 plates. The fried Singapore noodles was too dry and a little spicy.
There was fixed seating and session for dinner at the main dining hall which was really classic and beautiful, and it spanned across Deck 3 to Deck 5. It also offered free flow of courses for dinner. You could order all the starters, mains and desserts as you wished, if you could actually finish them! The service was impeccable and we were assigned fixed waiters/waitresses for the dinner.
Of course, it was up to you on where you would like to have dinner but the main dining room itself was a fun experience. Our dinner seating was for 8pm, printed on our seapasses which doubled up as a room key, charge card and onboard identity card (since passports were submitted arrival).
After dinner, we watched “Ice under the Big Top” on Deck 3’s Studio B. It was also a prefixed show time printed on the seapass. The show was from 1045pm to 1130pm. As it was free seating, we simply camped in the theatre once dinner was over at 10pm. Z was invited to be part of the show, so we even got bumped up to the reserved row right at the front.
The performance was really good. Both Mr H & I were impressed by the quality, especially since such performances were already included within the package.
On Day 2, to make it for breakfast at the main dining hall which operated from 745am-930am, we arrived by 8am. Trust me, after a late night, it was really hard to drag the kids out for breakfast and I had to con Z that I spotted a mermaid from our balcony. There was the Deck 11 buffet restaurant but I much preferred a proper seating with meals served.
Everyone also tried their hand at table tennis and basketball. There was inline skating and rock climbing which the kids were not very keen about too. It was really sunny and windy, so shades were a must! We headed down to shop at the Main Promenade on Deck 5. It was made up of a few shops and some sales stall in the middle.
We had lunch at the main dining hall from 1230-2pm before the kids crashed out for their naps. Well, there were really too many activities on board and we actually missed the 3pm Dreamworks Parade because Z & X were happily snoozing away.
By 4pm, we docked at Penang and headed down via assigned groups for the respective tours that we signed up for. The shore excursions started from US$26 per person.
The first stop was a local hawker centre for the famous Penang Fried Kway Teow
Next up was a visit to try the famous chendol and Penang Laksa. It was followed by a visit to a souvenir snacks shop and finally a visit to the Armenian Street to see 1 of the famous wall murals.
We wrapped up with dinner at a seafood restaurant and headed back to the ship by 10pm. We barely unpacked our shopping before we had to rush everyone down to the Savoy Theatre for a musical performance. It ended at 1030pm and was followed by a retro street dance on Deck 5. The cruise passengers, young and old, were all grooving away to the retro dance hits. Z had so much fun (and was so tired). It was the second consecutive night of sleeping at nearly midnight.
On Day 3, the kids were dragged out of bed for breakfast at 8 again. We had bumped into Z’s schoolmate and we arranged for a pool date. The boys played at the pool from 10-11, the arcade from 1130-1230, broke for lunch, watched “Penguins of Madagascar” in the ship’s cinema from 2-330pm and headed off to the kids’ club from 4-5pm. Meanwhile, X crashed out for an epic nap from 1-5pm and missed out on lunch at Johnny Rockets which featured free flow American cuisine of cheese fries, steak burgers and sundaes at $6 cover charge per person.
After kids’ club, we made the kids eat pizza and cakes at Promenade cafe which offered free flow deli snacks. I managed to get a Coach lanyard at US$50 and we also made it for photo session with Shrek & Fiona.
It was followed by a farewell performance from 645-730pm and a scheduled ice skating session for Z from 745-815pm before dinner at 815pm.
The Royal Caribbean really promised a wide array of activities so there was almost no way for anyone to feel bored on board.
It truly was an experience on its own. Both Z & X had so much fun that they bade the ship farewell reluctantly. If anything, I was really impressed by their new ship, Quantum of the Seas, which featured bumper cars, iFly & a hovering capsule over the seas. That being said, it should be a few more years before I would be returning to any cruises. I still preferred land exploration than the ‘Clud Med’ of the seas.