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So, the wife and I just returned from our second cruise aboard Spectrum OTS, this time it was a shorter 3-night sailing visiting Penang with one Sea Day. Compared to our previous experience a few months ago (despite the loosened restrictions) - the ship still feels very different than a typical European or North American sailing. A few things of note which I never mentioned in my previous post (which have remained status quo): so for anyone considering a Spectrum OTS out of Singapore - the market is a bit different based on the below: Unlike our previous cruise, the Windjammer is now fully self-serve (and for the North American's on this board) - the WIndjammer on North American ships will typically have 'theme nights' featuring a cuisine of a particular country, look no further as on the Spectrum's Windjammer has dedicated sections for Indian and Chinese cuisine. * Like my previous cruise on Spectrum earlier in the year... the pool decks remain largely 'empty' - hot tubs generally empty and of the people on the pool deck - the demographic on board including families tends to over dress aka pants and sweatshirts on the pool decks (as though it was Alaska) and hardly anyone in the pools as its just not part of the Singapore market. ***no 'chair hogs that we witnessed on this sailing, as most people in this market tend to prefer shade over sun and to avoid spending time at pools or on the outdoor decks generally - so if one is looking for a lounger, even on a Sea Day - there was a ton available... in fact the crew was removing loungers since they weren't even really being used*** * The Casino was extremely crowded (as per usual on sailings from this market) - as was the Windjammer (hard getting a table at any given time). * The solarium remained largely empty and the bartenders were generally 'bored' along with the bartenders at the 'Schooner' Bar. In fact on the occasions we were in both venues... we were able to chat up the bartenders for 30 minutes average before anyone else showed up... and we were advised that drinking and bars are not very 'popular' in this market. * The Flowrider was basically empty for the first two days of the sailing... in fact the Flowrider Instructors were the ones doing all the 'flowriding' for the first two days while people watched - basically 'performing' various stunts (this is something one would never see stateside as the Flowrider fills up on embarkation day). Only on the final day of the sailing did it 'fill up' and even then its nothing like out of Florida or California. Mind you something else you'd never see out of the US market is people waiting for the Flowrider carrying Umbrella's to shade themselves from the sun... and there were A LOT of umbrella holding people in the queue; though luckily no one attempted to flowride with an umbrella . * Masks like the North America market are now 'optional' however the majority of crew about 95 % are still masked as again it makes the people in this market more comfortable, and for the guests... about 90 - 95% masked as well indoors and outdoors despite it being optional. The only ones who went unmasked were those visiting Singapore for this cruise and it was quite obvious who the guests were. * Beverage packages are not very popular according to the F&B staff we interacted with since in this market... people tend to either a la carte beverages or just go with the free options ... in fact the drink of choice was typically hot drinks which the bars don't serve - again different market. * NextCruise was quite a popular spot with many people booking future cruises... though when the wife and I enquired about potentially putting down a deposit for a cruise from Florida or from Seattle, we were met with 'those markets not being very common in Asia' since most people who booked future cruises on board were only booking in the Asian market. * The Cafe270 was a nice upgrade from Cafe Promenade on the other ships, it serves a wide variety of things but closes at 1700 daily. Also Sorrento's is located in the Windjammer rather than on the Esplanade. Speaking to the Hotel Director at a public Q&A, the Hotel Director advised that the vast majority of the 5000 onboard are from Singapore with about 600 Indian Nationals and only 53 from North America (US / Canada) making this the smallest minority of guests on board. This is also the reason why the hotel director further clarified that in Asia... the North Star, Rock Climbing Wall, iFly Skydiving Simulator are chargeable (around $40 and up) in order to 'control crowds' while on US Based ships, these three things are typically non-chargeable at least at on Port Days. Even the sports staff on board knew this though most passengers are not aware of this. When this was also raised in the public Q&A - the Captain also re-iterated that the above are 'novelty attractions' but stateside their 'common'. The Captain of this sailing was Captain Wu Huimin who is from China - though the main speaker at the Q&A was the Australian Hotel Director. * Also there's a big hope that China will open again by late 2023 and 2024 and the plan is for Spectrum to offer cruises from Shanghai again - per the Hotel Director. Was also advised that if the ship does end up returning to China by then... everything would be in Mandarin only (in Singapore everything is still in English). Overall this sailing was pretty much like our previous sailing except masks were 'optional'. It was still a relaxing experience and it was great to interact with the bored bartenders who were standing around, many staff on board have mentioned they prefer this market since its a lot less work at the bars however the Windjammer does have its work cut out since non-stop eating is a big thing in this market. Didn't attend the Art shows this time around, and the SPA was also empty the times we went by as was the fitness center (even on the Sea Day). If anyone has any questions feel free to ask, also let the forum know if you're taking a cruise from Singapore soon, lots of useful tips including the revamped check in process at Marina Bay Cruise Center which is much to be desired.
My family and I recently cruised onboard Symphony of the Seas from March 26th-April 2nd, 2022. This is our first cruise post-COVID and we were shocked to see many changes that we did not know about beforehand. A big example of one of these changes is the Windjammer closing throughout the day. It seems that the wind jammer was only open for breakfast and dinner while onboard, and it was closed between the times of 1:00 P.M. and 4:00 P.M., and 9:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M. This is very odd as the Windjammer is supposed to be the “24 hour” buffet where you can get what you want at pretty much any time. It made us kind of sad that we were not able to grab a late night snack or a quick lunch in the Windjammer as it’s one of the classic spots onboard that we enjoy. Anyone know why this is STILL going on even after things have sort of returned to normal?