When my friend Mabel called on June 28 and asked if I would like to join her and two of her girl friends, Osang and Cynthia, on a Southeast Asian cruise on November, it took me all of two seconds to decide. We’d fly to Singapore, board the ship there then cruise to Malaysia and Thailand then sail back to Singapore. Mabel and Cynthia would fly back to Manila but on the same day, Osang and I would board the ship again for the second cruise. Mabel e-mailed the dates, ports of call and rates to me an hour later, and it was a go.
The five-month wait was nerve-wracking but on November 19, we finally flew to Singapore where we stayed overnight before boarding the ship the next day. Then, the feasting began. Feast for the tummy, feast for the senses, feast for the mind. The ship is named Legend of the Seas in the fleet of the Royal Caribbean – ten decks, 867-foot long with a gross tonnage of 70,000 and a passenger capacity of 2,067.
We boarded the ship at noon on November 20 and a scrumptious buffet lunch was awaiting us at the Windjammer Cafe on Deck 9. Between lunch and the 5.00 p.m. sailing time, we whiled the hours beside the pool, glasses of Singapore Sling and cognac in hand. By sundown, we were at sea.
Buffets, cafes, room service and fine dining aboard the Legend of the Seas
As the ship pulled out of port, I barely had time to take photos of the sunset as it was time to get ready for dinner. Unlike the casual buffet set-up at the Windjammer Cafe, dinner at the Romeo & Juliet dining room was a sit-down affair. It was hard to choose which appetizer was best, the waiter suggested we leave everything to him and I must say it was a wise decision.
He brought us plates of escargot swimming in pesto and cheese for starters…
… grilled fish for the main entree and a souffle which he pierced to pour in some custard for dessert.
The thing about cruising is how the food parade never seems to end and you don’t pay for anything extra because, except for the alcoholic beverages and the soda, everything is included in the package.
You can have an early breakfast at the Windjammer Cafe and a second breakfast at the main dining room, and do the same thing for every meal, and live the life of a glutton if you can manage to digest everything before the next meal. Below, a tiny sampling from the usual breakfast buffet.
Pizza, burgers and hotdogs are served all day until around midnight at Deck 10, coffee and tea are free-flowing, and there is a frozen yogurt dispenser near the pool.
If you still feel hungry after all that or if you don’t feel like leaving the comfort of your cabin, there’s room service.
If food is not your only interest, there’s always live entertainment somewhere.
While a Mexican duo performed at the poolside during the afternoons, the real action was at the center of the ship (aptly called the Centrum) after dinner.
One of the performing bands, Vicki and the Holding Company, was made up entirely of Filipinos. Vicki did the vocals, her husband Cris played the guitar, Ike was on the drums and Boy on the keyboard.
They played dance music and we had a blast dancing most nights away.
Meeting the cruise ship captain and the crew
It was through the kindness of Vicki and Cris that we were able to personally meet Captain Yngvar Knutsen who generously brought us to the bridge, and showed and explained some of the equipment in it.
Vicki and Cris also introduced us to Chief Refrigeration Engineer Dionisio “Bebot” Ranque (yes, he is a Filipino) who showed us around the Engineering Room and served us the most delicious cappuccino.
Casinos, shows and shopping onboard
Almost everyday, the ship docked at a different port. We got off the ship and went on on-your-own shore excursions to Penang, Port Klang (from where we drove to Kuala Lumpur) and Phuket. But for those who opted to stay onboard, there were activities galore – spa, massage, sauna and gym, cooking demonstrations, musical shows, movies, wall-climbing, Ocean Adventure for the young ones, art auctions…
… casino, shopping…
… and a dozen other things. For those seeking quiet and solitude, there’s the library.
And for the hermits, there’s cable TV in the state rooms. There’s wifi service too if you simply can’t resist going online although the per-minute rate is pretty stiff.
Cruising is a travel experience unlike any other. And it’s not all that expensive considering all the service and amenities that you get. A 3-night cruise in Asia, for instance, starts at $289.00. It is relaxed, the atmosphere is friendly, passengers are endlessly pampered. You never go hungry, there’s always something to do and it’s a chance to meet new people and make new friends (beware though of men who will try to pick you up and stalk you!).
So, on your next holiday, if you’re thinking of going on a new adventure and you’ve never tried cruising before, consider a few days and nights at sea and a different destination almost everyday. It’s something I’d like to do again and I already promised my daughters that, next time, it’s going to be a family affair.