Very fortunate turn of events allowed me and my husband to go on a 5-day Singapore-Malaysian cruise a month ago. To put it simply, he won the trip through a raffle. We were having a humble lunch of burger and fries at a McDonalds when he received the call which made the news of winning an all-expense paid vacation for two so much sweeter.
We boarded the Diamond Princess, one of Princess Cruises luxury cruise ships. It was massive! It looked like a floating building with 14 floors and over 1,300 guest rooms. Inside were 8 restaurants and kiosks, 4 swimming pools, 7 bars and lounges and 1 theatre where live performance are held every night. There’s also a spa, a gym, a casino, a wedding chapel and more.
We sailed from Singapore to three ports in Malaysia. In Penang, we toured the enchanting Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas and Penang Botanical Gardens. We also shopped for local delicacies such as their famous White Coffee and Teh Tarik to bring home with us. In Langkawi, we visited the iconic Langkawi Eagle at the Langkawi Eagle Square and sampled local fare—Mee Goreng and chicken rice—at a hawker center. In Kuala Lumpur, we got to see a bit of the city and its highlights, namely: Merdeka Independence Square, Jamek Mosque, Royal Selangor Club and of course, the famous Petronas Twin Towers.
When the ship finally returned to Singapore, signalling the end of our short vacation, we felt a pang of separation anxiety from the ship and the whole cruise experience. Diamond Princess really felt like home during our stay. We decided that this cruise definitely won’t be the last.
Here are a few reasons why you should also consider going on a cruise on your next vacation:
Let’s take our Singapore-Malaysia cruise as an example. The 5-day cruise costs about US $440 per person. That’s only around P20K inclusive of full board meals, accommodation, and all the free activities you can enjoy on the ship. You can also include here your location to location travel expenses since essentially, your “hotel” doubles as your bus/ train/ plane to the next province or state you want to visit. You only unpack your bags once since your “hotel” travels with you! No need to book other accomodations. The cruise also offers different excursions per port for easy touring at minimal additional costs. If you don’t want to book an excursion, you can opt to explore each port on your own. Compare most cruise rates to your usual air and land travel options and a cruise comes out much cheaper and SO much more convenient almost every time.
Imagine ordering everything on the dinner menu and not paying a cent. Yes, that is a reality on a cruise. While my husband and I didn’t succumb to gluttony and only ordered what we could consume, the very idea of having the luxury of ordering everything on the menu and not pulling out our wallets almost brought us to tears. Plus, the food was excellent! We had a gourmet dinner every single night. The highlight of which was celebrity chef Curtis Stone’s Seafood Stew with Chilean Seabass, Black Mussels and Clams. I can’t even imagine how much that dish would cost in his restaurant. I still can’t get over the fact that I enjoyed it, essentially for free. Don’t even get me started on the desserts!
Besides excellent dinners, you can enjoy sumptuous buffet breakfasts and lunches. In the afternoon, yummy pastries and afternoon tea can be enjoyed in the dining rooms. What I loved was the free, all-day, unlimited pizza from Prego dubbed the “Best Pizza At Sea” by the Today Show; burgers and hotdogs at the Trident Grill and ice cream at Swirls.
Usually when on vacation, you try to schedule as many activities you can so as not to waste one minute of your vacation. On a cruise, your problem will be how to fit all the available activities offered to you in your schedule. Dilemmas on what to do will plague you every single day. There will be questions such as: Do I do laps in the pool or go to a Zumba dance? Which is better: the concert or the open-mic karaoke night? Do I go to origami class or the bollywood dance class? It could get overwhelming, but when on a vacation, it’s a good problem to have. Did I mention that almost all the activities are for free?
The service at Diamond Princess was superb. To put it simply, we were pampered… spoiled, even. Our room was always kept clean. I believe they made up our rooms twice a day! Everyone was courteous and friendly and really made you feel like royalty. It was also pleasant to see that most of the crew were Filipinos. It made me feel proud to see so many of our countrymen doing such fantastic jobs in each area assigned to them on the ship.
My husband and I made a mental note to bring our kids on our next cruise. There are alot of kid-friendly activities for them to do on the ship besides endless pool time. Besides Kid Centers on the ship, they will love the food and the sports deck. They will especially enjoy the Movies Under The Stars, it’s like a drive-in but no cars, where they show G rated movies on some nights and it comes with unlimited popcorn!
If these reasons don’t convince you to book a cruise soon, then we urge you to try it at least once as an alternative travel experience. However, we can’t promise you won’t get hooked after your first cruise.
For more information about Princess Cruises, visit: www.princess.com
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