Cruising offers the luxury of ease of traveling more than one destinations not having to drag your luggage and taking a plane from one destination to another.
Singapore is probably the hub of cruising S.E. Asia. Genting Cruise Lines, which claims to have introduced MICE on Cruise, is the operator of Dream Cruises, Star Cruises and Crystal Cruises that offers from week-end to six nights cruise itineraries, with Port of Calls including some of the World Heritage Sites like Penang, Melaka, Palawan, and sailing to popular destinations like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines.
I experienced first-hand 5 night-6 day, the magic of Dream Cruise, embark from Marina South Pier. I arrived at the check-in counter at Marina South Pier, earlier than the required time of boarding and thus, skipped the long queue. Checking and boarding was efficient and having got through hassle free immigration with a Multiple Visa, I am on board the Dream Cruise by 2PM.
A brief meeting with the Hotel Director, Mithun Shetty, I am enlightened first-hand about this one year old, beautiful mega cruise ship (335 meters long, 39.7 meters wide) that carry about 3300 passengers with about 1700 crew on board.
The cruise ship sails reaching a speed more than 23 knots scheduled to Port of Calls (POC): Penang (Malaysia), Phuket (Thailand), Langkawi Island (Malaysia), Port Klang (KL, Malaysia) and return to Singapore on Day 6.
Genting Cruise has an arrangement with the Port Authority in Malaysia and so I had no need to obtain Malaysia pre-boarding the cruise. And I can disembark and explore on my own, Port of Calls in Malaysia.
There is a Tourism Malaysia office near the Port area and here you can get the map and useful info if you are visiting Penang first time.
Taking the shore excursion at the POC destinations is perhaps one of the must-do on a Cruise holiday. Each POC on this cruise itinerary is a world class destination and though, a day tour is not enough to explore the many attractions, it’s certainly an experience worth a while for a first timer to be acquainted with the destinations like Penang, Phuket, Langkawi Island and KL.
The next day, I disembark to explore Penang on my own. The CAT hop on-hop off bus service conveniently takes me to most of the attractions of this World Heritage destination. A stroll along Jalan Kapitan Keling is a glimpse into Penang’s rich heritage etched on buildings, including the former State masjid Kapitan Keling, Penang’s oldest Guan Ying temple, Malaysia’s oldest Anglican Church. This road merges into Jalan Lebun Cannon, a heritage enclave lined with vibrant red brick shop houses and traditional Peranakan houses.
Malaysian Batik is the best buy in town. There is a good collection at Souvenir Shop (Ms.Tang 012-4053376 / Fb:owldepotpg) opposite Rayyan’s Gourmet Restaurant, Lebun Cannon. Sam’s Batik House is another Batik / Indian garment Shop at 183-185 Penang Road (firstname.lastname@example.org).
While cruising at sea, I experience activities on board including entertainment shows at the Zodiac Theater, Chinese acrobatic performance and Ball Room dancing performance at Bar360. It was rewarding to watch the movie Aladdin on big screen at
Morning exercise including Tai Chi and other fun activities in the evening take place at the Main Pool Deck 16, which is fitted with Jacuzzi pools and water slide.
Make a note of an activity not-to-miss: the exciting water slide on top deck. Climb the Ship’s highest point to immerse into the tube and slide down in great speed. Make sure you have your arms folded on to the chest. I take pleasure seeing kids, including adults, immersed into this fun activity so much so that once is not enough! For adventure loving souls, there are rope Course, Zipline or Wall Climbing.
On Deck 6, there is a Karaoke private room, but you need to book this on payment.
Lido – the All Day Dining (but observing dine time) with the 7/ 24 snack corner is one of the Inclusive Restaurants on Deck 16, serving world cuisines, particularly Authentic Indian, Thai and Malaysian favorites. Another inclusive restaurant in the package is the Dream Dining Room-Lower (Deck 7 Aft). Here, semi buffet offers a choice of Chinese or Western set menu. The Dining Room-Upper (Deck 8 Aft) offers a’la carte Chinese menu.
Specialty restaurants include Blue Lagoon (hawker food Chinese and International); Seafood Grill and Prime Steak House by Mark Best; Umi Uma Premium Japanese cuisine (divided into two sections, serving Teppanyaki – Shabu-Shabu hot pot) and Silk Road Chinese Restaurant Fine Dining.
The Palace Restaurant is exclusive to Palace Villa guests. The spacious Palace Villas comprises of more than one master bed room, Living Lounge, large balcony with a bath and exclusive outdoor pool.
You will find the variety and the quality of food in each restaurant in agreement to, as the saying goes: Live to Eat.
The spotlessness at the restaurant area (and all common areas on board) is maintained clinically-clean.
With more than one Conference and Function rooms, the Ship can facilitate larger MICE events at the Theater.