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Traveler

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  1. One thing about Vietnam I almost forgot : I was a millionaire well at least before the first port The only problem is that what you see here is around 45 $ ....
  2. Day 9 – Port of Pou May which is the gate to Ho Chi Minh. Nothing really to write about the port, it is cargo port 80 miles from Ho Chi Minh (AKA Saigon). We went down from the ship to take our daily tour , this time we have chosen to do the Panoramic Ho Chi Minh tour. Going out from the ship was very quick, immigration did not even bother to check our landing cards. We went on the bus and started our journey to the city, Ho Chi Minh is under huge development right now and you can see many skyscrapers in the way to the city center. We started our tour near a Chinese temple, not much different from the temples we already visit but as always with those kind of temples they are nice and highly maintained. The stop was supposed to be for 10 minutes but last to be 30 minutes as the lines to the bathrooms were very long … Some of the places are not that ready for so many visitors at the same time. Our next stop was yet another temple, that time it was Vietnamese temple, that’s it no more temples for me in the next few month , I gut temple fatigue We stayed at that temple for 15 minutes and continued to the city center and to the Grand hotel area were we got 2,5 hours of do it your own trip which I much appreciated. We went around the nice old buildings and checked some stores, after being tired from the continues need to negotiate for everything we found a big supermarket which we always like. Fixed price, good verity and ability to buy things like local coffee and local candies. Once we completed with the shopping, we found an nice coffee shop to eat lunch in. Although it was not real Vietnamese restaurant it served some interesting fusion plates like Tacos and Hamburgers. Lunch was quick and we still had some free time so we went (yes you start to see the pattern) to do a 30 minutes foot massage , as you see we both became addicted to 7 $ foot massage. Around 3.15 we met again with the group and headed to the next stop, the former presented palace. This is the palace of the South Vietnam presented that was in use until 1975. The building is kept today as museum, I guess to show the corruption of the former regime We had another quick stop at the French Cathedral. Later we went back to the ship, arriving around 6:30 PM not before our bus was stopped by the police for speeding. The food today was all about Indian food (Matt, you missed it) which means no lobsters this cruise. We went to see the Ice show which was, as always amazing, I think that this is the only show which is a sure thing in RC cruises. Went to the Casino after, maybe I will have separated review about the casino, during the time I was there they announce the emergency call Alpha,Alpha,Alpha in Studio B which mean medical emergence , I found out later that one of the performer injured during the second Ice show , later on we came to knew she is all right, but hearing those emergency codes in the announcing system never feel good. Tomorrow is the last day, its going to be a sea day or as I call it packing day.
  3. Day 8 – Sea day , YHAAA no need to disembark Although it is a sea day we woke around 7 AM (I guess the fact the VB was left open contributed to that) and went to eat the regular breakfast, it was again very full for this time of the day but we found a table. I guess the fact that no many other option to eat breakfast exists contribute to the high occupancy. I did my way around 9 to the third guest lecture , this time it was about making better decisions, this time I was very tired as I slept only 4 hours but the subject was interesting and the lecturer really know how to keep the ordinance awake. After the lecture I took the best decision I could take (you see I learn from it) and went back to the room to catch some sleep trying to close the gap from last night. I woke up after hour and half to do some steps around the ship trying to find new places which I never visit yet, I found one, the deck that can be accessed from the Solarium and overseas the helipad and the bridge. I thought to go to the rapid art sell just to see who is still buying art work after all the different articles which were published on the company who run those sells but I missed it already. I met my spouse and we went to the WJ for lunch, while loading some food on the plate I noticed a very ecological awareness kid who took some french-fries but some were spelt on the counter, the kid was not confused and as he did not want to waste any food hearing about all the hunger issues in the world, he collect the french-fries with his hand and put them back to the general pile. I would like to thank this kid for saving me from allot of empty calories today. Some info about the people on this cruise: The majority of passengers are Australians, next are coming from the UK and then Germany and the US , so most of the announcements are given in English following by German. Not many children on this cruise comparing to the West Europe and Caribbean cruise I attended in the past, in general the population seem to be older but there are passengers from all ages. During one of my stroll I started to count the rescue boats, well the numbers are not adding … there are 26 boats, each can carry 150 passengers which comes to total of 3900 + the 24 inflatable boats that can carry 35 people each, total off 800 seats. Quick calculation showing 4700 total seats, now as far as I know there are 4000 passengers and at least 1500 employees. I am sure I am not the first one that notice it , I must missed something ,what is the answer to this riddle ? , are the rest of the people supposed to swim after the boats in there live jackets (at least the water are warm in China sea, not sure regarding the sharks). Tonight was a Thai night in the WJ , including some Thai chicken and Thai beef with Tom Yam Soap that was so spicy that I could not finish it and I like spicy food, the rest was very good. To contradict the Tom Yam it I took the excellent Chilled mango soup We relaxed the rest of the evening, both did not care about the evening show which was performed by the ship singers. About 10:20 I went to Studio B to watch the quest show, Although it is my fifth cruse this is the first time I am watching it , why ? well I don’t have a really good answer. The game was very funny which made me sorry for missing it until now , I even participate in some of the quest , don’t worry did not gave up my pants or shirt as did not want to scare anyone . Our team took the second place. Going to sleep now , tomorrow is the last port day and we need to go up early , but I am sure I will also catch some sleep in the bus.
  4. Yes , its still is nice to see , always there at least one new animal they I did not saw before.
  5. Day 7 – port day Chan My Vietnam. It’s the 7 days which ussaly I hate as it is the last day and packing is required but in this 10 days cruise its just another port day. We arrived to the port of Cahn My , nothing to tell about this port as it is in the middle of nowhere although the green mountains around are nice view. The port is around one to two hours from the main attraction around. For the shore excursion we choose today to go to Hoi An which is a small city one of the Unseco sites in Vietnam. The tour started at 10 AM which gave us some extra time to sleep. We went on the bus and drove via the city of Da Nang which is now a big resort city. The view from the bus was amazing, very green scenery and some mountains. At the morning we had rain showers , lucky for us it was only after we were on the bus. We arrived around 12 PM to Hoi An directly to a restaurant to eat lunch, nothing special about the lunch it was typical Chines food not even really Vietnamese but it was ok. After the lunch we went to a tour in the city , the city itself is nice but quite small , how small ? well it seems to me that you can cover most of the sites in about 20 minutes. After the tour we got some free time so we went around and finally decide to do some foot massage (6 $ for 30 minutes) . The tour guide told the group to meet between 3:15 to 3:30 and in 3:30 we will all go to the bus. We went back at 3:25 to find our group already left , apparently most of the people arrived at 3:15 as they did not found anything to do there… We asked one of the other tour guides to call our tour guide and he came to take us to the bus. I usually hate people that delays the all group but hey they said 3:30 … We went on the bus to get the “humiliated” applause from the other group , well Since we were on time I did not felt too bad. The next stop was the highlight of our tour , it was bicycle ride in a village near the city. It was so nice cycling between the rice fields, as the weather was perfect and the wind was blowing to cool us down. The cycling reminded me my childhood when I use to cycle in the village where I was born.. We cycle for about one hour until it became dark. He did not asked for money to take his picture The way back brought us to the shore area of Da Nang and the area looks amazing during the night. We arrived back to the port around 7:15 few minutes before the ship was schedule to leave. Extra info will be tomorrow as we are very tired and should catch some sleep.
  6. Day 6 Nha Trang: This was the first port in Vietnam out of 3 , we had a very early shore excursion so we set several alarm clocks to be ready on time , As this port is a tender port I wanted to try and be even earlier so we can join one of the first groups out of the ship as it was predict to be a very warm and humid day and for sure it was. We went to the WJ to catch something to eat to find out almost all the people on the ship tried the same which means zero chance to find somewhere to seat so we took some plates and went out to the pool deck to eat which was nice arrangement. My Plans to be one of the first group to go out of the ship failed and we actually where the last group to leave but it was ok , tender process was very quick without any issues beside the regular ventilation issues on the tender boats(which were actually the rescue boast of the ship) but it was ok as the tender time was less than 10 minutes. The shore excursion we choose was the Nha Trang highlights which is half day tour with around four stops. This is our first Vietnam visit so we did not know what to expect , mind most of my “knowledge” about Vietnam comes from movies like Platoon, Good morning Vietnam, The deer hunter, Full metal jacket which as far as I know were not even filmed in Vietnam (as you can see I successfully omitted first blood 2) . in other words many know Vietnam in a much less nice circumstances , as always it was very different. (in the background of this picture you can see a big amusement park , the story behind this park is that some reach Vietnamese person wanted to go with his daughter to Disneyland but he was dined from getting a visa so he decided to build a park here) We got to the small tender port which is near the city, the port and the bay where the ship anchor is in a very beautiful bay with mountains surrounding it , I just wish we had better weather as the sky were very gray , although lucky for us no rain . Our first stop was to the white Buddha statue, a big white statue that stand over a small hill which you need to climb 155 stairs to reach it , the statue is immersive and the view from the hill was very nice. Stairs , my old enemy :-) The next stop where in some native painting factory, as we understood the concept very fast and since we really did not intend to buy anything we went to the beach area to admire the landscaping , The boardwalk near the sea is amazing, it kept very clean (both the boardwalk and the beach itself) and all the trees have a special haircut like in some of the amusement parks, very nice. There are many resort near the beach and across from it, if I would not know I am in Vietnam I could think I am in many other places around the world. Here is a quick quiz for you, what do you think the second spoken language in Naha Trang ? Give it up ? well it is Russian, apparently there are many tourists from Russia , mainly from the area near Siberia taken the advantage that is relatively close by and the cheap cost of living here. Many of the locals which are involved in the tourist industry learn to speak some Russian. After this visit we went to a nice coffee shop near the sea where everyone got a huge coconut to drink from . I love coconut water and this one was very fresh, after we finish to drink it they gave us spoons to eat some of the coconut content. As we had some extra time we went to nearby pharmacy to buy Aloevera gel , as I wrote before, we and the sun are not that good friends. Next stop was an Hindu temple on another hill , this one was older and with less stairs, with a view over the river and the fishing boat. To finalize our trip they took us to the local market, what can I tell you , I thought that prices in Thailand but in Vietnam they are even lower as long as you willing to negotiate (which I don’t really like) we bought some tea, coffee and a nice small teas set I also bought a small North Face backpack in 5 $ so I will have somewhere to put our stuff during the bicycle ride the day after , I am sure it is 100% authentic. We got back to tender area, we had a short queue for the tender boats, RC did nice job over there, offering to the people in the queue cold water and cold towels. Late lunch in WJ and regular deck rounds to see what is new and do some steps. During the evening time when the ship started to move it was very windy and we could feel very well we are on a ship , I can say “that the sea was angry that day my friends” , but I am not pretend to be a marine biologist. Since we were both very tired and the ship movement contributed to it we called it early today and went to sleep , Tomorrow Danang:
  7. Day 5 Another sea day. Woke up around 7:30 (don’t have really excuse for that) and spent some time surfing the internet before it will be taken from me when my spouse will wake up. We grab something quick to eat in the WJ, Again the location of our cabin in the 10 deck just down from the WJ is proven to be perfect. I went to the second part of the guest lecture, this time it was about culture and was interesting as yesterday, the other part of our group went to catch some sun. After the lecture I went to find her in the sundeck just to notice that the “private sundeck” which we found yesterday was half full, maybe it’s a prove there are more reader to the blog than I thought J Well if that is the case I just wanted to say that I check the antenna near this decks and it is a cellular antenna so maybe this deck is not that safe as I thought yesterday . So we went to the second “secret deck” the one that I did not disclosed its location here and it was again empty. Since the room was not done yet (and it was already 11:30 , annoying) I went to deck five to find that RC is performing its 10$ gift sell , as always it was pack with people as if they were handing gold for free. I think it was very clever of RC to conduct the sell today as tomorrow we arriving to the first of three Vietnamese ports were many of the offered merchandised are actually manufactured and I guess can be found for better prices and better Variety We went to eat lunch at the WJ, trying not to eat too much as I was figured out that today going to be lobster day at the WJ (it is after all the second formal night in this cruise)., well I was wrong The daily complain corner: SPA, you see, both my spouse and me love to go to the SPA , get a good treatment and relax for a while, we do it back at home and during many of our travels to the US and Europe , we don’t mind to pay for a good SPA treatment although nothing can beat the process in Thailand J The SPA on board the RC are very good equipped and prices although not cheap are more and less the same as other SPAs from the same level. The problem I have is the fact that people go to a SPA to relax not to be target for product pushing. I don’t complain aout the SPA workers, I know that is what they have been told to do and quite sure their salaries is highly effected from their ability to sell extra products ,my complain is to RC , really I don’t mind the sell push all around the ship , I can understand it , but please lease the SPA alone. On the other hand if RC wants to keep the SPA as another option to push products pleas cut the price of the treatments or maybe let us choose , full price SPA treatment without commercial , discount treatment with advertising. We took our afternoon nap which is a must on a sea day if you ask me, after all we are on vacation I successfully denied myself reading any work mail for the first day at this cruise which might contribute for my better sleeping. For dinner we tried the WJ and no lobsters or any other interesting sea food , I figured out that although it is the second formal night it was also the second day at sea which mean no fresh products arrived which can explain why instead of lobster we had Mexican J . I do love Mexican food and I was glad to see the big bowl of Guacamole , I enjoyed the food although the Guacamole was far from being Sabor quality I will say more like the one you get at Chile's with their fajitas, I will give them some credit and will not say Taco Bell quality The Churros that was served next to it were very good. After dinner we went to do some rounds on Deck 4 (which for some reason is not the official running track deck), we notice something very strange. A very bright light (much brighter from regular ship lights) on the sea which seems to be moving from time to time , People started to speculate what it can be , I heard people saying it might be an oil rig, a ship that searching something in the water, a lighthouse and many more. I tend usually for the simpler answer so I decided it is an UFO with ET that came to see the wonder of the belly flop contest. After a few minutes I remember I read an article about sea food in Vietnam and the squid fishing method which using shine hooks that the bright light is being used to lure the squids , so yes it was a squid boat, very disappointing. For the evening entertainment we skipped the headliner show (was again some focal group) and went later to the love and marriage show which as always was very funny and nice to watch (As long you are not the one on the stage). Tonight we are changing the ship watch to Vietnam time zone which mean we will gain another hour to sleep , excellent as we have our shore excursion is at early morning (7:45 AM) Tomorrow , first port in Vietnam.
  8. Day 4 Sea day. Today was the second sea day in the cruise, Although the forecast predict a very cloudy day it was once again a wonderful sunny day, perfect for a sea day. I started early (well 9 am on a vacation for me its early) gong to a guest lecture about creativity, it was a one hour interactive lecture which was interesting and funny, I glad I been able to attend. For some reason RC (at least in this cruise) put all the lectures around 9 AM , not sure why. After the lecture I met with my spouse and we went to the sundeck area to catch some sun. Although the pool deck was fully occupied there were enough chairs on deck 12 , not sure why people insist on the pool deck (I know that some like to jump to the pool from time to time but it can easily done also from the upper deck). Actually we found some extra hidden decks that were empty so we used them as our privet deck (there is one above the bar which was kept empty all the time , my guess the proximity to the round antenna radome which is nearby may intimidate some people but they contain mostly satellite equipment and almost harmless comparing to the sun radiation. Although we are coming from a very sunny country I cannot really stay in the sun too long before becoming a lobster(one of the downsize of working at office all the time), since the lobster day is tomorrow and I did not want to find myself as the main dish in the Windjammer I finish my pathetic effort to get tanned very fast. We took some pictures to send home after getting complains that we only send picture that they can be download from the internet and they want to check that we are relay cruising. And now for the daily complain session J , not really understood why RC are insisting on this towel policy with the room card , the queues to get a towel become sometime quite long which is annoying, there must be a better way to handle it, its not that people have where to take the towels beside the ship. I understand that again we are paying the price for people that throw the towels over the board or something like that. For lunch again we did the Windjammer trying to focus on light things, I decide to try something healthy for a change so I took a Pizza. The good thing about lunch today was the fruits they brought , beside the regular apples they also served Rambutan and Longan , Rambutan you should already recognize from my previous post about Thailand but Longan (not Logan ok ? , its not made out of Adamantium) is a small round fruit which taste more and less like Litchi. The fruit stand was very poplar but there were plenty for everyone , it was good dessert. The time past quite fast on the sea day, we enjoyed several of the show in the pool area and some indoor activities. For dinner we went to Chops, the food was very tasty, loved the crab cake and the soups, the service on the other hand was ok , I mean when we got service .It seems they were missing waiters and each waiter had to serve too many tables , I will just say the dinner took us two and half hour and we had to wait 40 minutes between the steaks and the dessert .Hopefully it was aone time issue as I heard the service in this restaurant usually excellent. Tomorrow another sea day. FYI , if there are any request to get some more info about the ship or cruise or you want me to take a picture of something in the ship , let me know I will be happy to answer/take the pictures.
  9. Thank you ! I most welcome comets like that since well it will help me first to fix the post and second to learn from my mistakes, so please feel free to comment And now for the excuses :-) , the speller is good up to a certain point , now when I am not sure on the right spelling of a word I will try to use online dictionary tbut when the internet become very slow... And here is another photo I could not upload yesterday of the temple :
  10. Day 3 Port day. Kaohsiung Taiwan: After a nice first sea day we finally arrive to our first stop at Kaohsiung , we got to the port around 7 AM and I Started to get organized as we had our shore excursions To avoid the rush hour of the buffet on a port day I went up and grab a plate to bring down to my spouse and me, our room is actually just one deck directly below the Windjammer so it makes live easier. After the quick breakfast we rushed to the excursion (thank you WAAYATOO) meeting point , it was 8:15 which was the time the meeting should tool place ,when arrived we have been told to catch the bus outside so we went out pass the immigration very quick (as the passport still with the ship we got yesterday a stamp photocopy of our passport, that was why RC asked everyone to bring a photocopy with them). As usual not everyone arrived on time so we were waiting for people on the bus until 9 AM ,maybe this is the punishment for people who come when they are being told too (that and also my spouse saying to me , told you so ,we should not have rushed J ) The excursions was for the Buddha temple complex in the city of Fo Guang Shna , I choose this one as the city of Kaohsiung is mainly industrial city and not much to see. The drive to the temple complex tool around one hour, each participate got bottle of water on the bus which was nice has it was a very hot humid day. The complex is spitted to two different areas, the first is where the monks are leaving and learning, it also contain a huge temple with three golden Buddha’s (sorry no photo were allowed inside the temple but here is the standing Buddha from the parking area). The second one is the more modern area which has a 360 foot Buddha statue and many pagodas tower. I found the second part to be very immersive although tending to more commercial, in the entrance there is something that look like a mall , it even contain a Starbucks (well maybe they sell there an holly tea , did not check). Although there were allot of people around the place is huge and it was very quiet and e feeling of serenity was surrounding us (and not the serenity now kind) , I really enjoy it, just sorry we could not stay there some extra time We were doing our way back around 12 PM as it was half day tour. By the way in the port there was an ATM machine and money changer, beside that there weren’t any other services. The way back to the ship was very fast without any queues or delays , nothing like to come back from the very warm day to the air-condition of the ship , love it. For lunch we did our way to the buffet, this time it was not as busy as yesterday and the food was excellent, again I was eating too much. After a very required rest we went to see the headliner show which presented a vocal group name “Dream Zone” they were performing different songs with the ship band which was entertaining. Tomorrow sea day ,
  11. Well I am starting to get into the cruise mode, yesterday with all the issues, the late sail and some work related issues I was not there yet , took me a while J There is something very special in the moment you get from the gangway to the ship , I love that feeling. During the morning I found out the VB to work fine just the sky looked gray, which is ok as we did not planned anything for the sundeck yet. The room itself although small is big enough for two people with tons of storage, we came with two big suitcase (after all we packed for 18 vacation days) and after unpacking we still have free space, I like the way they utilized the room, The suitcases where nicely shoved under the bad and we are glad we don’t need to see them for the next 9 days. This is our first time to be in inside cabin , I thought I might feel it to be claustrophobic but no ;its just fine and open more opportunities for us in the future not to rollout this option. When I woke up today I saw it was already 8:30 , so, although feeling still tired I went to the bathroom to prepare for the day (we had the meet and mingle at 9:30 AM ) lucky for me I took a look at the laptop which indicated it is 4:30 AM … I asked uncle Google for the time in Hong Kong and it concurred indeed it was 4:30. I found out that my cell phone which I did not moved to flight mode (big mistake) connected to the Verizon service that moved the clock to EST. Since I am wearing a smart watch (dumb watch in this case) it was synchronized with the same time which was 8:30 PM … basic beginner mistake. Luckily for me I did not tried to wake up my spouse, that could have been a disaster J. After waking up again (normal time) I took something quick to eat at the promenade café and went to the meet and mingle meeting (my better half still slept) that was 9:30 am (who do such meetings in the middle of the night on a sea day) ? There where around 25 people in the meeting and RC did the usual raffle so I figure almost 50% got something, I was not at that 50% but it was still nice. Beside the regular small notepad gift they also gave everyone a folding shopping bag with RC logo, I actually found it to be very useful. For Lunch (and breakfast for some people) we went to the Windjammer that was packed. it took us around 15 minutes to find a table at the end we just joined some other people, typical sea day J. As the wind was very strong the upper deck was closed also in the lower deck it was not that easy to walk, the pool by the way turn into a wave pool, who said there is not a water park on the Voyager of the seas. We browsed the ship for a while to see where is everything, I am very happy to tell you that I saw the famous park café sandwiches served in the promenaded café. One thing was very clear, there were many queues on the ship , queues to the shore excoriation (which might indicate that many are not using the site to pre order it) the queues started almost on the other side of the promenaded. Queues to the guest service were also exist for the all day, Maybe since we sailed late people did not had time to complain yesterday and queues to the MDR. With all the different queues I heard people suggest to rename the ship to Queues of seas. For dinner we went to the MDR , it was ok , slow but food was fine. I think we will visit the Windjammer more. Tomorrow we are in Taiwan and we have early shore excursion
  12. Day 1 - Embarkation day Usually this day is simple although tense, we wake up eat quick breakfast and take a shuttle/taxi to the port around 10:30 AM . This time its different as the check in to the boast will be only at 5 to 7 PM while the sail hour is midnight (not sure why it still called 10 days cruise … where is the missing a day ? to the finders I promise reward) So we had to find out how to spend the full day before going to the port, to add to the complexity today we also had Hon Kong cycling competition which brought to many road blocks , we found out that the start/finish point of the race is just across from our hotel. To reduce the risk of finding taxi that will take us to the port I reserved a car from the hotel guessing they will have better chance to know how to avoid the road blocks and the extra traffic associate with it, so yes I paid twice what I would pay for the taxi but at least I knew its safer. The good thing was that the hotel let us keep the room until 3 PM . We went again to the same place to eat breakfast, after all you don’t replace a wining horse or a wining sandwich. We watch the bicycle race for a while, preparing our self for the cycling tour we booked in Vietnam which his almost the same then went to take our free drinks at the hotel lobby waiting for our car (watching the race was quite an effort and was enough practice for today).. Once it was the time to go; the hotel send someone with our suitcase as we had to bypass the road block by claiming a bridge and navigate via a street or two to get to our car. The ride to the port was very fast around 15 minutes so it was around 5:15 when we arrived , we gave our suitcase outside ,until now it was like any boarding day, yap until that time … We got to the hall where we saw tons of people seating and waiting for something, there were many lines but we figured out that the biggest line was for the photo copy machine , you see , RC asked people to bring a photo copy of their first passport page , many I guess or did not read it or don’t have a printer at home … The priority check in lines was reverse for Platinum and up (while in Europe and US they have queues for gold also) which was not that bad as the regular line took us less than 5 minutes and hey after this cruise we will become platinum, well we are newbies J We did the check in and got a number for boarding, that actually explain what where all the people doing in the hall, while in many other places you do the check in and then you go via security to the waiting hall here you did the check in and waited for your number to be called to the security. I guess they don’t have place for people to wait after the security.. They started to call all the suites and down to Platinum members to approach the security for boarding around 5:45 PM . We were called around 7 PM , if I just knew it was the first line … The good thing was that the crew tried to maintain the order meaning they really checked the numbers that people had and removed them from the line if their numbers were not called yet, I liked that system. After the security line which went quite fast we got to the immigration line that took another 20 minutes, once we passed that I was relived, finally time to get on board , but no , just another line , this time it was a line to give the passport and a the passport copy , apparently on this route the ship is holding everyone passport as part of issuing visas to Vietnam (remember my previous post of running to the Embassy, well as I suspect it was not required , hey at least I did some walking).. This line was another 15 to 20 minutes and then finally we got to the board. We were boarded at the fourth deck which was a surprise for me as until now we all the time boarded to the royal promenade At least there was one good thing which was the fact that our room was already ready has the ship arrived empty from China the bad thing was that we were missing the major things which usually should be already at room like the shore excursions tickets and the internet code. I went down to the Guest service to fix those issues and to check what happened to our first night done right which the guest service suggested that they will book me whatever restaurant I want. We decide to try Giovanni Table which was excellent, I will just say that for the entry we took the filet (both of us) and it was one of the best filet that I was ever eaten, very tender and taste full. From the restaurant we went directly to the muster drill that was conducted at 10:30. Tomorrow sea day
  13. Day -1.5 Honk Kong , Yesterday was a transfer day, although the flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong is only two and half hours the flight was at 2 PM which quite kill the all day. We went out to the airport around 10 AM directly after breakfast , we wanted to play it safe due to possible traffic issues in the way to the airport but it took us no more than 30 minutes to get there. 10 minutes after we already passed the check in, security and passport control so we had more than 3 hours until the flight which we spend walking around the very nice Bangkok airport gaining more steps for the fitbit counter. The rest of the time we spent at Thai airways lounge. The flight was short by they still served a full meal which was nice: hhh We arrived around 5 PM to Hong Kong and stuck in traffic for more than one hour , we arrived to the hotel finally , it was already 7 PM so as you can see a wasted day, maybe I should have booked early or late flight so I could enjoy more time on one of the places (Bangkok for sure) lesson learn for next time.The hotel we are staying in Hong Kong is the Intercontinental in Kowloon its very near the harbor and has nice view, again I used reward points to book this hotel (yes I travel too much, I agree).After settling down, we went out to try and catch the Symphony of light show which is a laser and lights show that performed over many of the Hong Kong skyscrapers every day at 8 PM. After the show we went to catch something to eat near the famous Nathan road. Today we started the morning in a nice bakery we found near the hotel. We were planning to go to an Optometrist shop that I used its service before, both me and my spouse are using eyeglasses and doing a pair of glasses in Hong Kong is almost half of the price (for frame and lenses) than back home , I believe it is much cheaper also comparing the US. SO every time I am visiting HK I am trying to purchase new pair , the good thing is that usually they can prepare them on the same day. After we both choose the frame and did a short vision check we rushed to a short Hong Kong free walking tour, this is one of those tours that you can book enjoy it and just pay the tip at the end to the guide. The tour was nice with allot of stories of the different palaces around. After the tour we took the subway to the ladies markets (and no , it’s not just for ladies so it was ok for me to join) , this market is full with stands of cheap cloths, fake of fake bags and watches (fake of fakes is like a fake but not really for example: they have bags of LU instead of LV ). Not sure I would spend too much time there unless you want to find fake Rolex watch , but that can be done in any of Hong Kong street. Next to the market there is the computer center , a building full with shops that sells computers, computer accessories and computer parts , we went over there just for me to buy some more charges , I bought one with 4 USB ports so we will able to charge all the devices using one power outlet in ship. Doing our way back we decided that it will be a good idea to walk back , well it was a bad idea because became very hot day and walking 1.8 miles in such weather was not the best thing we could done about , well at least we finished the day with over 20000 steps so at least the fitness applications where very happy. Tomorrow finally we should board the Ship .
  14. Day -3 (or Maybe -2, I lost the count sorry) Bangkok Today Was another full day in Bangkok , since we (silly us) believed the forecast which indicate rain during the two and half day in Bangkok we really did not planned something special. We woke up around 9 AM (jet leg …) and went to grab something to eat at the breakfast buffet. The buffet was full with western dishes side by side to many oriental dishes, actually with the type of food served it could easily be also a lunch buffet. I mainly loved the fruit stand where they cut different fresh fruits in front of you, in general Thailand is a haven for fruit lovers, and at any corner of the street you will find a fruit stand serving fresh cut fruit inside nylon bags with small forks to eat it. The food in Bangkok is so good and the verity is endless, from western to Thai food, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Indonesian and much more. If you are looking just for western food (weird but ok) you will find many famous fast food restaurants like Macdonald’s, Burger King, Subway etc .. There are also many coffee shops (reminder its Bangkok not Amsterdam so I am talking about places which serve real coffee) I also notice almost on every corner a very special local coffee chain that seems many tourist as local likes to queue near it , If I am not mistaken it called something like Starbucks but I might be wrong . The food cost is very cheap comparing to the US and Europe, for example you can get a nice Pad Thai for less than 3 $ and model soup for 1.5 $ in the food court, at the restaurant yesterday we paid 12 $ for two main course, one starter + drinks. You can find also many food stands on the street selling almost everything, since we did not to take the risk we avoid it but since we still wanted to taste some of the street food we area inside a mall which has something like 30 stands serving different street food. The mall call terminal 21 and the stands are in its 5th floor. We bought a prepaid card for the food stands which we used to taste many dishes, in the end you can return the card and get refund for any amount which still left. !Warning , the next paragraph should not be read before planning to eat anything! In Thailand there is one special fruit which famous for its lovely smell , its call Durian , now you cannot get confused between this fruit and other fruit as its smell is so strong that in Singapore they not allow to carry it inside the Subway. It’s hard to describe the smell but believe me I think it should be consider as anti-riot weapon. Many consider the Durian to have a very good taste so I did the move and for the sake of this blog I decided to taste it (the thing I do so I will have something to report on …). I took a plate of sticky rice with Durian , what can I Tell you, the taste was so bad, something like Onion that was covered with sugar and left outside for a week or two , even while I am written this I feel sick. Was I sorry that I tried? well if you don’t try new things you never know , would I do it again ? certainly not I am here so you would not do the same mistakes J !End of warning!. The rest of the day between meals we spent in the huge malls the city can offer , one of the biggest malls (called MBK) which contains hundreds of small shops that sell almost everything , one can spend hours over there trying to find the best deals. You have one floor that is dedicate just for electronic shops which again claim they have anything , for example they offered us the new IPhone X , Which is nice consider that apple did not release it to the markets yet. For dinner we went to a Korean restaurant which serve DAK Kalbi which is cooked on your table , similar to the hibachi concept but with a big pan on the middle of the table.We took a mix of chicken, sea food ,vegetables and rice, which was mixed with cheese. It was very tasty and remind me Spanish Paella The Before plate: After cooking : sorry we started to eat before I remembered that I did not took the picture Tomorrow Hong Kong
  15. I can tell you one thing , two days is not enough :-) for sure we will come back. But Thailand is not just Bangkok there many wonderful places to tour here , I would consider flying to to one of the island for a week or two and just stop in Bangkok at the beginning or maybe at the end for some shopping before going home.By the way ,Regarding Bangkok usually or people really like it or really hate it. there many nice things here but on the other end is not the clean city in the world and there is the issue of air quality. We quite enjoyed the city.
  16. Day -4 Bangkok As this city exist in some of the south Asia Royal Caribbean routes I think it fair to writeabout it. As I wrote before this was my first visit to Bangkok, the reason for stopping two days in Bangkok was mainly due to the fact that I could not found a direct route to Hong Kong with the award miles but found out this route to work nicely for us as it also a good city to buy some cheap T shirts for the cruise J (One can identify me on board by the shirts with the elephants and I love Bangkok 2 $ T shirts) We landed very early and I arrange that we will be greeted at the gate by the hotel representative who took us with a buggy car bypassing the immigration lines, I took this idea from Episode 183 - Making a memorable Royal Caribbean cruise , while passing the long lines I could not avoid quoting in My head Mel Brooks “It’s good to be the king” For hotel we took the Grand Sheraton (using reward) which is very nice located on Sukhumvit road and 2 minutes from the MRT (local subway). The Funny about the Sheraton reward program is that much of my points did not came from the room staying but from the fact that they give you allot of points if you decide not to use the daily clean service (and not replacing towels), you can actually do it up to 3 nights every time. They call it the Ecological choice, since I practice all my childhood (and my spouse will claim it continues also this days) not to make up my room I became very good at that and for sure I don’t mind to get some reward point for it. Now only if I knew then to explain my parents it was all Ecological choice …. Here is a picture of the hotel very nice tropical swimming pool. After settling down we started to walk around to the nearest mall for some shop browsing and eating early launch, we picked some local restaurant and order a Pad Thai and Green Papaya salad. Since we are after all in Th ailand we went for a foot massage , which was very very good and cost around 10 $ for a full hour. Regarding the Sukhumvit road, this is one of the famous tourist roads and many chain hotels are located very close to. Not sure I would take small kids to stroll around this street unless you want to practice your “bee and birds” talk and try also to explain them what are all those plastic replacement body parts which are presented on every second stand (and no , I ddont meant they sell prosthetic arms and legs).Every second other stand on the street also sell many different famous prescriptions drugs which I can guess are authentic as three dollar bill. You will need to forgive me for not uploading pictures from the street as it is a family prove site and also I had the feeling that if I would try to take picture over there I might find myself staring in one of the next episodes of National geographic,” Locked up abroad” describing the Thai jail daily routing and talking about my only friends over there there,a rat name Pinchi and a trained cockroach. Tomorrow we will catch a flight to Hong Kong.
  17. Thanks,I will know on Sunday, I for sure will try to complain about it but as you may know RC is clearly stating that all visa/passports or any other documents is under the responsibility of the passenger.
  18. Day -5 some general information. We landed safely in Bangkok and got our hotel room , I have some time to elaborate om the background regarding the cruise and some answers while waiting for my spouse to get ready for a stroll around the city. So why this cruise? - this is going to be our fifth cruise (finally becoming platinum) , the other routes we done so far is two western Europe cruises, one east Caribbean and one west Caribbean all for 7 nights. We were looking to cruise somewhere new and found this cruise to take us places we never visit before (Taiwan and Vietnam). For sure one important condition was that it should be a Royal Caribbean cruise The cruise was not that expensive (for the room we took) and also the timing was perfect for us to take vacation . My concern was of the ship itself, please try not to laugh at me but I really hope that I will find the Voyager of the seas big enough J you see our first cruise (and the one that made us addicted) was with Liberty of the seas following by Allure, Oasis and Harmony of the seas … (Hey, an idea for Royal Caribbean , special award for people that cruise in all of the ships of a certain classes) Yes I know, the Voyager is a big ship and should have enough activities , but I am afraid the Oasis class (and mainly Harmony of the seas) spoiled us , its not that we can do all the activities/special restaurant on the Oasis , its just good to know we have the option if we want to (same answer which I give when people ask me why I love leaving in a big city and not in somewhere quite). I sure hope I will find this concern not to be true, working on convincing myself to avoid and compare the ships while I am enjoying the cruise. Stateroom : Virtual Balcony – since we book the cruise very late (not going to tell how late but lets just say we had to pay the all amount while booking it) the balcony rooms and even the sea view rooms where very expensive So we decided to take the VB room which will be first for us. For me, the room is for rest and taking a shower between the different activities so it should be ok (Wow , I almost convinced myself). Internet: Yes for sure , how else I will be able to update the live blog , whatsup pictures for friends and family that will make them jealous (very important part from any good vacation) and yes , do some emergency work if needed (but only from the sundeck). We took one device package which we will share between our devices (we done it in the past, its working quite well as long as you have one device connected at a time and as long as I make sure my spouse is slipping while I am trying to use the internet). Drinking package – no, although we like to drink from time to time we do not drink as much to make it financial worthwhile so we will pay per drink plus the two bottles of wine we can carry with us on board . Special restaurant – Yes for sure, we order the first night done right (which I hope we can use as the set sail for the ship is 23:59), Chops girls for one of the sea days we also consider maybe the chef table and of course at least one visit to Johny Rocket. Unfortunately, No Sabor on the VOS so I will have to attend my crave for guacamole somewhere else. Shore excursion – we actually booked 4 shore excursion, one for each port, all are organize by Royal Caribbean as it is new ports for me in countries which the number of words I know to speak are less than five (and none of them will help me find my way back to the ship) I decided to play it safe. Thanks for this wonderful site I could have catch the 20% discount on many of the excursions (just canceled and rebooked them again with the discount when it became available). For Thailand (not in the route), Singapore and Honk Kong we will do our own excursions as we already visit them more than once (well beside Thailand which I never been but my spouse visit in the past). Pre and pro cruise hotels where booked by me using reward points. Before the cruise we took two nights (just to be on safe side) same for the post cruise. Visas – here we are touching a sensitive subject, the only country at this cruise, which we need visa to enter is Vietnam (same by the way for most of the passport holders beside some countries in Europe like UK). On the tickets documents we got for the cruise it was state that Royal Caribbean will help the passengers to obtain visa on board which will cost around 6 $ PP. I was very happy to read about it this info also align with what I have read in other sites. Now the plot thickens, few weeks ago RC send us email stating that all visas and other documents should be ready before we set sail and one that don’t have the requirements might be not allow to embark the ship. I tried to understand if this is like the standard email which RC sending before any cruise but it did not seemed like that. I decided to try my luck and call RC to ask them about it, not sure if anyone here tried to ask RC Visa questions, let’s just say that trying to get clear answers from RC about visa is harder than to get honest answer from a politician. The words: “Maybe , better to check by yourself , we are not sure and better you ask the embassy” raised up many times with different representative. I know they cannot tell me if I need visa or not (nor that I expected to) and this is not what I asked, all I wanted is to get is a strait answer if they are going to take care of the visas on board the ship or not. Mow, before Matt will jump and say “Hey this is another good reason why its always better to book using TA , they could have answered this question” I must say I asked special TA that is dealing with RC and cruises , she got the same answers. Although I was almost sure that based on the past cruises such a visa will be obtained on the ship I just did not want to take even the smaller risk that we will be denied to the cruise. After a quick check I found out that the Vietnamese Embassy is about 15-20 minutes’ walk from my home and they can do the visa on the spot for extra charge, I thought by doing that I will kill two birds using one stone , first I will be able to sleep better knowing that this issue is covered , second, 20 minutes morning walk each way will help me do my steps quota and more important prepare myself for the windjammer. To make long story short , after quick walk and 10 minutes waiting I said bye bye to around 200$ (around 100$ for each passport) and came back with multiple entry visas for Vietnam. In few days I will now if that was the best thing I done for the cruise or I just spent (in cruise money language) two chef tables or two nice shore excoriations , ok , and half drinking package. Tomorrow still in Bangkok, will share more Bangkok updates , for now here is some taster, this picture is not of an sea urchins that walked in the sun too much while forting their sun screen at home but of a crazy relative of Lychee (in taste anyway) called Rambutan : And the inside of this sweet fruit :
  19. Quick update , I successfully catch all the connections and even had time to go back to my apartment for a quick shower. To avoid any delays I already packed a suitcase for the cruise before starting the business trip. Currently again back at the airport waiting for the first vacation flight while trying to break the record of how many airline lounges I can visit in 72 hours. Very sad to hear the news about Vegas.
  20. Thanks , well there are some words that even the automatic spelling check will not help :-)
  21. First I would like to apologize ahead of time for some English spelling /grammar error I might do during this blog (and I will, promise you) as English not my first language. After the excuses, I can start, I am going to write this live blog which will cover a south Asia cruise since first I did not found too many blogs over this area and second I want to give something back to this wonderful site which I found to be very helpful , entertaining and most important very positive (comparing to many other site (which its name would not be spoken) that I found focusing on complains). The cruise which we are going to attend is 10 (well almost 10 ,I will explain shortly) days cruise from Honk Kong to Singapore on the Voyager of the seas. Here is the itinerary: 08 - October Hong Kong 11:59 PM 09-October Cruising 10-October Kaohsiung, Taiwan 11-October Cruising 12-October Cruising 13-Octover Nah Trang , Vietnam 14-October Hue/Danang , Vietnam 15-October Cruising 16- October Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam 17-October Cruising As you can see the embarkation is to 23:59 as the ship will arrive (without passenger) from mainland China. Now I hope that we will really set sail at the designated time and the 11:59 PM is not just so RLC will not need to change the name of the cruise to 9 days Hong Kong to Singapore … One can ask himself why I am starting this live blog a week before the start date ? well I have two good answers: 1. For me starting this blog now it also a commitment that I will need to update it and planning is almost 50% of the fun in cruises (quoting better than me) 2. We are actually starting the vacation few days before by flying first to Thailand and to be able and catch this flight I first need to come back from a business trip. For some reasons like the fact that my work colleges ask nicely, the customer insist and the most important somehow I need to pay for the cruises I found myself in this business trip which will finish few hours before my vacation starts. There is just a small problem, while the vacation starts in Thailand the business trip is to one of the south American countries which its name will not be reveled but let’s just say they have very good ceviche’s, they really like Llamas/Alpacas and if you will tell them that the original Pisco sour was invited in Chile they can get very offended. The plan itself is very simple (at least that is what I tried to convince myself with) , I finish what I need to finish , start to fly around the world with some connections, land at night at my home town just to take the vacation flight 5.5 hours later. I do hide one card in my sleeve, the same aircraft which will I take for my last connection is exactly the one I am going to take for my vacation (yes another connection) so if the last connection will be delayed also the next flight will. So you see it is very solid plan (it’s not) which I covered any problem that may pop (I did not) but hey, it makes live more interesting and if I will make it on time a very good story to tell. I have also created plan B if I will miss one of the connection and this is mainly to cry to my travel agent and beg her to find me an alternative route (One must love plan B) Now, you might ask why not to save some time and instead of flying to my home town and back to the connection point just stay at the connection airport and go from there (after meeting my belter half) ? Well apparently the gods of the airlines will not let you do something which actually make sense, you see I booked my vacation flights using award miles and while I could find the flights starting from my hometown going via the connection airport I could not find the same flight going directly from the connection airport plus if I would find it would cost more miles. I gave up on trying and understand the way the airlines works, so here we are. The good news is while I am written this I am already started my trip back , so currently I am in the airline lounge waiting for my next connection which appear to be on time. I promise to continue and update. For now , just so it will not be too boring I am adding pictures for one of the main reason I agreed to take the business trip:
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