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Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B


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This was another space I was really looking forward to experiencing on this ship, especially with the loss of my beloved Viking Crown. I have to say it did not disappoint — I love being able to sit and watch the ocean. And you are so close to the water! This is another venue where the seating is so interesting, too. 




The Cafe:


Attached to Two70 on the upper level is the library, which I was glad to see even if it is small:


Off of the Library is the Boardroom, a gorgeous space for puzzles, games, private gatherings, etc:



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Day 5 - Ilocos

Today started in Silver dining for breakfast, and then back to the cabin to slather on the sunscreen before our full day shore excursion in the Ilocos region of the Philippines. “Huh! Where’s that?” you say — just like I did when we booked this cruise. And then I continued to say it for many months as I failed to do any real research on the place and Royal failed to have any shore excursions in the Cruise Planner. At 29 days prior to the cruise, two excursions appeared — hooray! Having still done no research, we picked one based completely on the other excursion saying “time for shopping”, which we had no interest in.


This is a tender port, so I felt it was important to book an excursion through Royal just for my own peace of mind. Also, our track record with full-day excursions in the Philippines actually getting back to the ship on time has run 50-50. **Spoiler alert — our track record is now 80-20 returning late 😮 ** Anyway, slathered up with camera in hand, we headed to our tender with our group. 

Tendering took about 15 minutes. The dock was obviously a cargo port, and a very small one. The local city council had set up entertainment for our arrival:


We walked through a small museum with a bit of history of the area to get to our buses. One brilliant thing — there was a tent set up with an official money changer right at the dock. Only Philippine pesos are accepted in the Ilocos region, FYI. (Sorry this is a crappy shot but I actually didn’t see it until I was on the bus):


I expected the tourist facilities to be a bit more rustic than elsewhere in the Philippines, and I was not wrong. However, they rolled out the red carpet for us and in general did a great job. The local mayor for the Ilocos Sur region even rounded up free moto-taxis to take people into the closest town when he realized many passengers had made no accommodations for transport!

Turns out Spectrum was the first ever Royal ship to call on Ilocos, and the FOURTH cruise ship EVER. The last one was a Star Cruises ship two years prior! That one docked at the gravel shipyard in Ilocos Norte about 45 minutes north of where we were. 

Our tour bus was “experienced”, but comfortable enough and the A/C was frosty so no complaints. We drove about an hour and 20 minutes north to Laoag town, the capital of Ilocos Norte. Our guide was very good. Her day job was working for the vice-governor of the area. She was a licensed tour guide for English speaking and Mandarin speaking tours. Her *third* job was cooking Indian food at the housing complex for the Indian engineers working on road improvements. Underemployment is a problem in the Philippines...

We saw the town center, the American-built capitol building, the Spanish-built town church, and the Marcos family regional courthouse. Yes, that Marcos family. They are still a Really Big Deal in the area; Ferdinand’s grandson is the current mayor and a grand-niece is a senator. There’s even a university named after Ferdinand’s father.

A Philippines staple, the Jeepny:


Next we went to the Marcos’ family home in the region, a beautiful home on the edge of a lake, that is now a museum:


Finally we stopped at a fantastic old Spanish church of St Augustin, a UNESCO World Heritage site:


Then we headed back to the ship. We were 10 minutes past all-aboard, and 40 minutes past the last tender. The ship ended up departing about 30 minutes late. Oops.

Off to Vintages for a nice glass of wine before dinner:




For dinner we tried Silver dining, which does a blend of menu and buffet. MisterZ had the crab cake and prawns, I had the chicken. It was all very tasty! The menu is the same every night:


We ended the night at the Music Hall, listening to the Extra Band. Another good one!

**MisterZ has promised more Ilocos pictures, so stay tuned for a second post on the topic!**


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Ilocos pt. 2

As promised, real photos!

Laoag Cathedral (St William’s Cathedral), built 1612:



Sinking Bell Tower, built 1612, sinks 1” per year:


Ilocos Norte Capital building, dressed for Christmas:


Moto-taxis, hold 2 passengers in the side car and one sitting side-saddle behind the driver:


Paoay Church, built 1694:



The only shot we got of the inside:


Because wedding!



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Day 6 — Subic Bay

Another morning, another tasty breakfast at Silver dining. We docked in Subic, Philippines, at a former US Naval base that had been returned to the Philippine government after the catastrophic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991. Even though this was a docking port instead of tendering, we still chose a Royal excursion. Mostly because all the close-in stuff to do involves duty free shopping and that’s just not our thing.


We chose the Puning Hot Spring and Jungle Adventure tour. Turned out to be a slightly misleading name, and the whole thing was not so much disorganized as badly communicated, but we enjoyed it anyway. Also, we ended up back to the ship late. Oops, again.

The welcome show:


Scenes in the town of Angeles on our way up to the hot spring:



Our transport part of the way:





Dinner in the MDR, which was lobster night (lobster for MisterZ, Stir-Fried Beef for me):



After two full days of touring we were a bit tired, so our evening was low key and we turned in early.

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There is a function in the app that turns your phone into an X-ray at one spot on the ship. In the forward stair landing between deck 11 and 12 is this artwork:


Point your phone at the picture and you can see into the bridge, live. I think Symphony has this same option. It was interesting, and you can see crew moving in and out of the shot.

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Day 7 - At Sea

This morning MisterZ was feeling exceptionally loungy, so I went to CafeTwo70 to grab some breakfast items. They were very tasty! Apparently we should have gone here sooner in the trip 🙂 

Seas were rough today. We were sailing through the tail end of a typhoon. Personally I’ve seen worse, but the crew who hadn’t been on smaller ships were saying this was the worst they’d been through. There were sick sacks available in the stairwells, but they didn’t seem much used, fortunately.

Today we had our Entertainment Tour from our Diamond status. I was really looking forward to seeing the differences with the older ships; we had most recently done one of these tours on Explorer. We started with about 30 minutes of discussion with the Theater stage manager and the dance supervisor. This was particularly fun because the Stage Manager’s mother was on the tour too, on her first cruise. She was very proud of her son — it was cute!

The Theater holds about 2200 guests:


Props and costumes:




Backstage fun:



The biggest surprise for me was how similar it all was to Explorer. While there were some tech advances, like the spotlight tracking devices, the dressing rooms and storage places were all the same (just a bit bigger). The Theater has 29 singers and dancers, and Two70 and the Music Hall have their own totally separate teams. If you get a chance to do this tour, jump on it on any ship. So interesting!

Immediately following the tour was our consecutive cruiser meeting. There were about 160 back-to-backers on this cruise. Cruise staff told us what to expect the next day, and how to handle things if we were planning to go ashore or not. It was very helpful.

Next we went to our favorite lounge chairs in the Silver area. For lunch, strictly for research purposes, I fetched pizza from Sorrentos:


It was perfectly reasonable — not amazing but very edible 😉 How’s that for failing to add to the raging pizza debate on this site??

Dinner in the MDR for our last night with our waitstaff:



Also, we just squeaked in to the 50 year thing, this being the end of 2019. The cake was surprisingly delicious!


We had intended to see both Silk Road and The Effectors tonight, but both were canceled due to high seas. DO NOT LEAVE SHOWS UNTIL THE END OF YOUR TRIP! In our case, we knew we had the next sailing to catch them so while disappointed, we were not crushed.

This is one of my new favorite cruise sights, a hallway full of bags that does not include mine:


Hahahahaha! Bye, poor suckers that have to go back to the Real World! (Too mean? #sorrynotsorry)


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Adventure Ocean

Not having any tiny humans of our own, we have never paid attention to the offerings onboard for them. Turns out there are a ton, and they’re all really cool! 😮 

Adventure Ocean on this ship is two stories. It’s a big space, but since there were 1000 under 18 on the cruise (and 800 under 18 on the second leg) it needs to be. 






This was a cupcake class arranged only through the kids programs; it wasn’t in the cruise planner at all. I was attempting to get a photo without being too stalker-y, so it’s not my best work...



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I have gone on a bit about the Silver area on this ship so I figured I better back up my blathering with photos:




While this is called the Solarium, it is not adults only. It is restricted to Junior Suites and above, and Diamond and above. Your SeaPass or Wow band opens the doors.

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On 12/28/2019 at 6:24 AM, Andrew72681 said:

On NCL the noodle bar/dim sum restaurant was one of our favorites. Was hard to get in but the food was great and no upcharge. 

Actually, there is one station in the Windjammer called the Noodle Bar. You pick your noodles from 3-4 choices, add your ingredients (fish cakes, greens, mushrooms, etc) and then give your bowl to the cook. He hands you back your cooked items and then you pick your broth and additions (soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, etc). There are also a few buns and dumplings in this area. It’s fun, tasty, and free!



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Morning of Day 8 - Turn around day

Docked in Hong Kong this morning, and the weather is again not cooperating for photos. Here’s a marginal one of the lovely Kai Tak Cruise Terminal. Yes, that is a city park on top of it:


I also realized I took this picture the first day and forgot to share it, so here you go:


Today we went to Silver dining for breakfast. Then back to our cabin to pack up or drawer contents as instructed — our cabin steward would move our suitcases and hanging items to our new cabin for us. Nice!

At 8:45am we went to the left side of the MDR, 4th floor, and scanned “off” the ship. Then we picked up our new SeaPass cards, our free Wow bands, and our special luncheon invitation. Next, we went out the right side of the MDR and scanned “on” the ship. THAT WAS IT. No Immigration meeting, no need to leave, nothing! Lovely!


We immediately used our new, fancy gold SeaPass cards to get into the Gold Suite Club 😄 


Here’s the Gold Lounge:


And The Balcony, a private sun deck (less impressive on this rainy day. I’ll try to get a better shot later):


Then at 11:30am we went to the special lunch for consecutive cruisers. It was held in the Sichuan Red restaurant with the following menu:


It was outstanding! Turns out most items were from the Gold Dining recipes.

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Cabin tour

After lunch our cabin was finished. Here’s the tour of cabin 13132:


From the door:


From the back looking toward the door:


Looking into the bedroom:


From the back of the bedroom, looking at the desk and bathroom door:


The bathroom, with Jack and Jill doors (one from the main area and one from the bedroom). There is a second sink on the right of this shot:


The balcony:


And of course, the pillow menu!



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1 hour ago, KristiZ said:

Yup! The layout is great. They really use space well all over this ship. 

Have  a lovely second week , will be interesting to read about the differences between the silver and the gold lounge /dining .

We were at October on the Spectrum and as you,  we found the silver dining room to have the same menu every night so we skipped it . I think the sliver dining room is more like the Solarium dining room on other ships while the gold dining room is more like Coastal kitchen ...
If you will see the  silk show  , please tell me what its all about as we failed to understand 🙂
The  270 cafe was our place for quick breakfasts , its quite good . If you like to taste something different try the dragon fruit cheese tea at the tea place  , we liked it allot and its covered in the drinking package.

Enjoy the cruise , its fun to read you blog. 

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Rest of Day 8 - Turn Around

After our terrific lunch, MisterZ retired to the cabin for a nap and I went to the spa for a scrub. It’s a really nice space:


The secret side door from the Gold area:


The relaxation room:


A treatment room:


Here’s one sail away picture from foggy, uncooperative Hong Kong:


For dinner we went to Gold dining for the first time. It was fantastic! MisterZ had Dover Sole and I had Spicy Beef Brisket. Our waiter said they have their own totally separate kitchen and absolutely everything is made to order, even the Caesar salad:




It seems the menu may not change every night, but there is a lot of variety. 

After dinner we went to see Silk Road, which deserves its own post!


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