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Best of Japan cruise Spectrum Of The Seas October 1 - 8 2019 , a new experience.

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Today I went to collect our passports from the Chines visa agents  , finally we found few days were we are both at home and can leave the passport for few days (it takes up to four days to get the visa if you are not paying for expedite process) so I guess it’s a good opportunity to start this “I do not know how live it will be” blog.

It’s a different cruise for sure , many first times for us , first time going to China , first time on Quantum class , first time cruise to Japan and firs time on a cruise that English is not the first language. I am sure we will have much more first times , but that’s what make us so excited.

Why we choose this cruise  ?  well , apparently it was a childhood dream of my spouse to visit Japan and it will be her first time there , for me it will be the second time but the other  time was quite a long time ago and was a business trip, also it’s a new ship , and a new class , do we really need other reasons ?

So what is the plan :

Two days in Shanghai – Some tour in the city , still did not choose one  although I so a nice bicycle day trip which we might take.

I already booked a nice hotel near one of the main square , the location is important as we wanted to be at the center to reduce traveling , as we are landing very early in the morning I guess we will store our suitcase in the hotel and start to tour the area. I thought to book the hotel a day earlier so we will get the room once we will arrive but as I know both of us , we will get to the room and go to sleep and miss important hours in the city 😊.

On 1-October we will do our way to the port .

 

Our itinerary :

 

01 OCT - SHANGHAI (BAOSHAN), CHINA

02 OCT - Cruising

03 OCT – OSAKA, Japan  

04 OCT-  OSAKA , Japan

04 OCT – Kobe Japan

05 OCT – Tokyo (Yokohama) , Japan

06 OCT – Cruising

07 OCT – Cruising

08 OCT - SHANGHAI (BAOSHAN), CHINA

 

After we booked the tour I found out that 1-October is also what they call in China  the Golden week , this is a mandatory vacation week in all China so we expecting to have many local families and not many foreigners on board.  We might experience some traffic as many are traveling this week but I do not think its going to be showstopper. We choose this period as we also have some holidays and many bridge days between.

 

Post the cruise we will go to the airport and fly to Singapore , we considered to stay some extra days in Chania but was not sure if we will have multi entrance visa or a single entry which mean that we will have to use transfer visa on the way back, at the end we got the multi until as long as the passport is not expired.
We will be in Singapore for three nights at our favorite hotel in the world (or should I say our favorite swimming pool in the world), it will be good for some rest time although I might need to have a face to face meeting with one of our customers for few hours.
From Singapore we will fly to Thailand to chill out , currently only Bangkok but we might fly to one of the islands , depends what the weather will be.
So almost three week vacation before going back home.

 

There are many difference is cruise out of China  :

1.       Activities cost money (north star ,Ifly , skypad, laser tag) I will give the prices later.
2.       Food in the MDR is different – the menu is a picture menu with many Chinese flavor.
3.       Instead of sea class , sky class and start class there is golden class and silver class.
4.       In the golden glass there are not just suites but also balconies cabins with suite services.
5.       No coastal kitchen but golden dinning room and maybe silver dining room (not sure yet).
6.       The solarium is only for Golden and Silver class.
7.       Golden class have access to some other dedicated places (again not sure about silver) , there are also elevators just for suites class.
8.       Wonderland with Chinese menu.
9.       Dining package is not offer before the cruise.
10.   No Diamond lounge – only the 3 free drinks during happy hour.
11.   Many first timer.
12.   MDR late seating is 7 PM.

 

I  am sure I will find more differences , but difference are many time a good thing , it will push us from the comfort zone to experience new things.

 

More to come.

 

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Cabin

It was quite hard to decide which cabin to book , our last cruise to this area (Hong Kong to Singapore) was in inside virtual balcony room and we were quite happy with that but this time we wanted something different so we decided on JS. After checking out what is available we booked the J1 Sliver JS with big balcony , its actually an aft balcony , so another firs for us. We took it so we will have some place to relax in the room if needed , the option to enter to the solarium (although I read that also diamonds are allow there) and maybe to eat in the silver dining room that until now I could not understood if its a dining room , lounge and what is going to be serve there, as I said its going to be interesting. There is not much information on RCL site regarding what are the perks that comes with the Silver/Golden cabins comparing to Sea/Sky/Star which has the exact description of what you can expect., I hope it will be a nice surprises. Like all the Q classes that were build to the Asian market also in Spectrum of the seas you can find deck 13 as 13 dose not consider a "bad" number like in Europe and US, Actually Chines lucky numbers are more 6- for smooth live , 8 for wealth and fortune (which can explain why many slots machines in Asia are associate with 8 and 88)  and  9 for eternity. On the other side , 4 is the 13 , 4 associate  well , with  death and 7 = gone although there are some good things about the numbers. So you will not find rooms on deck 4 but for sure you will find deck 13 , I also quite sure cabins like 8588 are gone quite fast 🙂.

I do hope that the JS will allow us to skip some of the lines in embarkation and maybe on disembarkation  , well only time will tell.

meanwhile so it will not be just words here is one picture from our last weekend trip

20190913_125754-EFFECTS.jpg.f3031f44bd5bcd6c55414bfdafd8329f.jpg

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8 minutes ago, Traveler said:

After checking out what is available we booked the J1 Sliver JS with big balcony , its actually an aft balcony , so another firs for us.

This is the type of cabin that we just booked for Odyssey. A JS that is an aft balcony. I was so excited to grab one because normally on Q-class you have to get the star class lofts to get that view. Can you do me a favour and take some pictures of the room? Enjoy!

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3 minutes ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

This is the type of cabin that we just booked for Odyssey. A JS that is an aft balcony. I was so excited to grab one because normally on Q-class you have to get the star class lofts to get that view. Can you do me a favour and take some pictures of the room? Enjoy!

Sure , I try to take cabin pictures before we start to unpack and the big mess starts (although what I like in JS is that you can hide all the mess in the walk in closet)

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I was just on Spectrum in July in a Golden Suite so I have some information on the Silver Suites. So the Silver Lounge is combined with Silver Dining and the Silver Dining is just an upscale buffet with mostly Western options. The Silver Lounge is just a sitting area without a dedicated Concierge, but I believe that certain hours, there was a GS person helping book things or solve issues. For embarkation, there’s no priority for Silver, but there is for C&A.

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1 hour ago, BaikG said:

I was just on Spectrum in July in a Golden Suite so I have some information on the Silver Suites. So the Silver Lounge is combined with Silver Dining and the Silver Dining is just an upscale buffet with mostly Western options. The Silver Lounge is just a sitting area without a dedicated Concierge, but I believe that certain hours, there was a GS person helping book things or solve issues. For embarkation, there’s no priority for Silver, but there is for C&A.

Thanks for this very valuable information . For the silver dining , do you know if it's for all dining or just lunch or dinner ? Do you need to reserve a seat or you just enter ?

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7 minutes ago, Traveler said:

Thanks for this very valuable information . For the silver dining , do you know if it's for all dining or just lunch or dinner ? Do you need to reserve a seat or you just enter ?

It’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I know it’s open seating for breakfast and lunch, but reservations may be required for dinner. I’m not too sure about that. Another tip is that it’s also open for lunch on port days so you might want to have lunch before / after excursions.

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16 minutes ago, BaikG said:

It’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I know it’s open seating for breakfast and lunch, but reservations may be required for dinner. I’m not too sure about that. Another tip is that it’s also open for lunch on port days so you might want to have lunch before / after excursions.

Thanks ,

I also trying the Royal up for grand suite or golden JS

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3 hours ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

This is the type of cabin that we just booked for Odyssey. A JS that is an aft balcony. I was so excited to grab one because normally on Q-class you have to get the star class lofts to get that view. Can you do me a favour and take some pictures of the room? Enjoy!

Oooh..me too me too!

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17 hours ago, Traveler said:

So almost three week vacation before going back home.

16 hours ago, Matt said:

sarcastic willy wonka GIF

Can't wait to see Matt's reaction when I say how much time I'm taking off for Iceland, Greenland, & Ireland. Just gonna have to wait 10 more months for that live blog to start rolling out... 😉 😈

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Ok , lets talk about the elephant in the room.

When we just thought on taking a cruise from China we started to read around, well lets say , you can find better reviews for Nassau  🙂 

I think many people expects such cruise will be just exactly the same as any other RCL cruise without taking into consideration that different places has different culture and different  customs. 

Some of the things I have read :

1. Food , not enough western food - Well I Think its a good time to try other things , western food I have everywhere
2. The Chinese food is not that good - I think when most of us think about Chinese food  we think about restaurants as PF Changs or fast food like Panda express (which I admit I like) but that is western Chinese food not really Chinese food ... I also like authentic Chinese food  which I experience mainly in Singapore Chinese street food.
3. The messages are always first in Chinese - Well what do you expect when at least 90% are people from China , I do not mind as long as the important announcement will also be in English .
4. People are pushing in queues and into elevators - Oh you mean like most of the cruises I have been in the Caribbean during rush time ? 
5. People do not respect people personal space - For this one I do not have any answer .
6, Not enough Trivia - Not a showstopper for us.
7. Shows story lines is not clear - The Gift anyone ? 
8. Shows are boring  - mm , Cats anyone 🙂  

Let me tell you story ,  17 years ago (when I was young and handsome) I worked on a prove of concept that we had to present to a Japanese company , we worked like crazy to meet the time line , 20 + hours per day. Few days before we had to go to Tokyo someone arranged us culture differences lecture  to prepare  for the travel . We have been told we must come with a suite to the meetings, we must bow when presenting ourselves , never to show our shoe sole , never cross our legs when seating  and many other things. AS I did not had a normal suit with me I had to find time to go and buy one at the last minute and find someone that will do the require  alters  on the spot. The flight day arrived (the good thing no WIFI during the flight so I could sleep few hours), we landed checked that everything still working (it was not , we had to spend another sleepless night to fix it) and run to the hotel to get prepare. We all came to the meeting location  with our best suits, ties and shoes just to see our customer coming without suits , some with sandals and jeans. Yes we all bow and exchange business cards holding it with our two hands but later I notice people were seating almost the opposite from what we have been told.
After few days when we already had some off the record small talks I asked one of the people for the difference ,first he told me that what we have been told is true mainly for older generation and second , that they also got a lecture on the  culture difference before our meeting .... 

So I hope for the  good , we will come  with opened mind ,  I am going to participate in many activities as I can and to have fun.

20190920_195025-472x509.jpg.9a061d80ae04f6dee69e52df1b61d108.jpg

20190920_195212-472x354.jpg.228c4e2a62831796b1b673ed6146b335.jpg

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Pre cruise purchases :

Another differences between regular cruise and cruises that start in China is the lack of cruise planner discounts.
As you can see in @Matt  updates about cruise planner sells most of them dose not include China cruises. that dose not mean a bargain can not be found as long as you check almost daily the cruise planner.
So that is what I done almost from the time I booked the cruise and in two occasions I found the shore excursions to be on sell.
I booked one excursion  for Osaka and one for Tokyo. Osaka since its the first port and all need to go through Japanese immigration , Tokyo since its quite far from the port. 
The other things you can order in the cruise planner are all the activities which cost money only on Asia cruises   , here are the prices :

Laser tag - 10 $ PP
North Start - 20 $ PP
North star extended time - 40 $ PP.
IFLY - 29$ PP
SKY PAD - 10 $
Sky Pad VR - 15 $

We booked everything (regular North star) beside the laser tag  as we done it already few times on Symphony for free. As you can see Skating and bumping cars are still free (maybe)
I sure hope  the fees will not expand to the rest of the fleet , I understand the need for crowd control but that can easy achieve by telling people that if they miss there booking they will be charged.

Beside the excursions  and activities we also booked Wonderland , its a whole different menu and all about Asian food , should be interesting. 

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Finished to pack my suitcase and now already on my next flight . No not China yet but to a quick business trip before the vacation to close as much item as I can so less times I will get calls or request if I can "just jump on a bridge for 5 minutes , really quick and we will let you go" and hour later and few "let's take it offline" and I can go back to the vacation.

So I will land again a day before the big flight , lucky for me this one is a quick flight I successfully run a way from a "few days" Toronto flight :-). Just to be on the safe side I finished Ironing my T shirts (praying they will arrive wrinkle less to the ship) and pack the major things.

 

20190922_192441-1008x756.jpg

20190922_200102-1008x756.jpg

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On 9/20/2019 at 1:02 PM, Traveler said:

Ok , lets talk about the elephant in the room.

When we just thought on taking a cruise from China we started to read around, well lets say , you can find better reviews for Nassau  🙂 

I think many people expects such cruise will be just exactly the same as any other RCL cruise without taking into consideration that different places has different culture and different  customs. 

Some of the things I have read :

1. Food , not enough western food - Well I Think its a good time to try other things , western food I have everywhere
2. The Chinese food is not that good - I think when most of us think about Chinese food  we think about restaurants as PF Changs or fast food like Panda express (which I admit I like) but that is western Chinese food not really Chinese food ... I also like authentic Chinese food  which I experience mainly in Singapore Chinese street food.
3. The messages are always first in Chinese - Well what do you expect when at least 90% are people from China , I do not mind as long as the important announcement will also be in English .
4. People are pushing in queues and into elevators - Oh you mean like most of the cruises I have been in the Caribbean during rush time ? 
5. People do not respect people personal space - For this one I do not have any answer .
6, Not enough Trivia - Not a showstopper for us.
7. Shows story lines is not clear - The Gift anyone ? 
8. Shows are boring  - mm , Cats anyone 🙂  

Let me tell you story ,  17 years ago (when I was young and handsome) I worked on a prove of concept that we had to present to a Japanese company , we worked like crazy to meet the time line , 20 + hours per day. Few days before we had to go to Tokyo someone arranged us culture differences lecture  to prepare  for the travel . We have been told we must come with a suite to the meetings, we must bow when presenting ourselves , never to show our shoe sole , never cross our legs when seating  and many other things. AS I did not had a normal suit with me I had to find time to go and buy one at the last minute and find someone that will do the require  alters  on the spot. The flight day arrived (the good thing no WIFI during the flight so I could sleep few hours), we landed checked that everything still working (it was not , we had to spend another sleepless night to fix it) and run to the hotel to get prepare. We all came to the meeting location  with our best suits, ties and shoes just to see our customer coming without suits , some with sandals and jeans. Yes we all bow and exchange business cards holding it with our two hands but later I notice people were seating almost the opposite from what we have been told.
After few days when we already had some off the record small talks I asked one of the people for the difference ,first he told me that what we have been told is true mainly for older generation and second , that they also got a lecture on the  culture difference before our meeting .... 

So I hope for the  good , we will come  with opened mind ,  I am going to participate in many activities as I can and to have fun.

20190920_195025-472x509.jpg.9a061d80ae04f6dee69e52df1b61d108.jpg

20190920_195212-472x354.jpg.228c4e2a62831796b1b673ed6146b335.jpg

Your right about the cultural differences. I think anybody who would consider a cruise like this or anywhere "different" should take these things into account. Many years ago, some friends were going to Mexico for the first time and said they were going to take a jar of peanut butter with them because they were afraid about the safety of the food. My first thought was, "Why are you going then?" 

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