Vivian M. Webb, MCC
(434) 237-3832
(800) 854-0500
  My Vietnam-Cambodia-Thailand-Signapore-Hong Kong Experience  
 

 

My Norwegian Jewel Cruise with my associate Donna.

 

Actually thought I had already written this, a couple of weeks ago, so I’ll make it fairly brief.  Maybe it was one of those things I started, and I got stopped before I actually started (smile) !

 

Wow, what a cruise.  I’m not sure which was the best part.  Whether it was being with my associate Donna; shopping; eating some of the foods & their specialty coffee/beer; or the many elegant sites ?  Would I go back ?  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.

 

Donna & I had so much fun together, we truly hated leaving each other when it was over.  We even opted to do the disembarkation port tour together (Singapore – Donna stayed 2 more extra days).  It was like we were sisters/friends for many years.  We might not have normally liked everything alike, yet it all blended together, and we both went along with what the other wanted.  Many times, we were in heavy crowds, and somehow, would fall in, back together.  We even both had hot flashes ... Not necessarily at the same time (eheheh).  Donna is at least 1/2 my size, tall, and 5 years younger (I turn 60 ... May 25th, 2019).  Very white skin, just  like me, so we weren’t sun lovers (smile) !  And the heat could be a bit much at times.  But we did great on all these tours - Much better than expected, for me.

 

As you can imagine, it was a long flight, from LAX over to Hong Kong.  Luckily many were able to sleep; not me.  I did stand a lot !  This is my 3rd time to Asia.  Seems I’ve put about 5 years in between each time there.  However, if it wasn’t for the flight and the cost for the flights, I would most definitely venture to Asia more often !  Actually like Asia more than Europe !  It’s totally different !  But again, I would only travel there by cruise ship.

 

Strangely, when I bought my flight from American, it said, I was to leave on March 12 & arrive March 13.  So I was planning to arrive, day prior to Donna.  She also left on the 12th, but flying in the opposite direct ions (over Europe) & not arriving till March 14.  I just figured, the direction is what the difference (?).  However, as my flight was leaving LAX at 12:05am, the date of arrival, online, changed to March 14. 

 

I quickly called Expedia, where I bought my hotel.  Was non-refundable.  I told them, the airlines changed the date of arrival.  He called the hotel, and got my money back.  I was actually grateful, I wasn’t going in early, since I was paying $170, just to sleep !  And if  I wanted dinner, the cost was $55.  Yes, I would have enjoyed the experience, but saving the $ was a nice plus.

 

So I arrived to Hong Kong, 7:30am on March 14.  And Donna was to arrive @ 11:30am.  I went to breakfast and had a very good Chinese dish.  Then I went shopping in the airport stores, and naturally started buying stuff, like I was going nowhere else (packaged cookies & candy).

 

As soon as Donna arrived, we went on the metro, to our hotel.  I was a little nervous, that this might be hectic.  But it was VERY easy and VERY clean, and no strange looking characters onboard.

 

When we 1st got there, the hotel asked, did we each want to pay an extra $35pp a day, and have a buffet breakfast & heavy appetizers/drinks from 4-6pm each day.  At 1st it seemed a little high, but we went with it.  Great choice !  Totally perfect idea.  As we ended each day, we just came back to the hotel, for this event.  Only the folks paying this, were allowed into the club !

 

Originally, Donna & I had both thought, we don’t need much $, because our suitcases have no room for souvenirs (I think we only brought $150each).  Well that changed quickly.  We both went to the casino & got ourselves extra $ for shopping.  No, I didn’t spend it all.  I just wanted to have the extra $ to not feel restricted.  Heheehh

 

Hong Kong:

  • Actually I had only flown thru here, in past visits to Asia. 
  • You’ve surely seen pictures of the Hong Kong Bay ?  It’s that beautiful.  Night and Day.
  • 1st day, we walked around, down by the bay.
  • 2nd day, a fabulous tour, to include lunch on a huge floating restaurant (food not so great/plentiful); a boat ride to get there, and much more !  We went to a shopping area, and again, Donna & I were grabbing things, like we would never see another store again.  I spent $45 in stuff for friends.

       We bought the tour from Expedia (we have a contract with 

       Expedia) & the tour included picking us up at the hotel.

  • 2nd evening, after our 4-6pm heavy appetizers/drinks, we went down to the Bay to see the marvelous free light show.  Was worth the walk.  It was neck-2-neck people.   And though Donna went farther than me, to go take pictures, we miraculously easily found each other when it was over.  This event is held EVERY NIGHT.
  • We took a cab to the ship.  We had to exchange some $ in the hotel, since CC’s not taken.

 

Vietnam:

    * Close to 100 degrees each day !

  • We had 4 ports.  Tours were all fabulous
  • 1st day, we did the Junk Boats.  Originally, I was not going to take this, because there was another tour I wanted.  They either cancelled that tour, or I discovered it was hours away, and I made a change to go with Donna (?).  This was one of the best tours.  In the morning, it was so FOGGY, that it seemed eery, yet cool !  These junk boats just ran into each other.  At times, it was best to hold on, as you saw 2-3-4, about to hit.  The tour did include climbing some steps in a cave.  I didn’t opt for this, but Donna said, it was much more easier, than one would have thought.  There was a little lady selling drinks/souvenirs.  Not until she allowed bargaining, did she finally start selling her items.  I bought several things, for others.
  • That afternoon, I opted on my own, to go to the Water Puppet Show.  This is one of the last Water Puppet Shows in Vietnam.  The puppeteers are under the water, moving the puppets around.  There’s music & singing, and we see who’s behind the puppeteers after the show is over.
  • Another port, there was shopping on the dock, after we had tendered.  I think I could have bought everything here (I stuck with smaller items – jewelry).  I think Donna did buy everything, to include a medium size suite case for $20.
  • Another day, we stopped for lunch, on us, and Vietnamese food was great.  Again, shopping was great, but a little more pricier.  I still bought my mom a scarf and girlfriends, a little cat.
  • A couple of times, we went to markets.  Amazing to see all the food, like chicken, that’s just  sitting there in the heat.  We learned, eggs aren’t really to be refrigerated; that’s just something we do in the states.
  • One would have thought, we would hear history or info of the Vietnam war.  Not a thing.  We heard that the Vietnamese have been taught not to talk about it.
  • Their coffee was fabulous.  Like a cold/not frozen frappe. I bought some & brought home, but it’s not at all the same.  Yet, I read online, the coffee I bought has won awards.
  • Select ports, they kept the streets very clean.

 

China Sea ... One Sea Day, we were here ! 

 

Cambodia:

  • We only had one port. 
  • Yes, the tour was good.
  • Very dirty country
  • Poor
  • Do remember seeing a laying down temple (somewhere), and there was lots of folks there, missing limbs, begging for money.  Kids there too.  Yet beautiful statues.

 

Thailand:

  • We had 2 days in Bangkok and another day in Ko Samui (really loved).
  • Our tours in Bangkok cost an average cost of $200each.  Here & Singapore, were our highest cost tours.
  • I had been to Bangkok before, and worried, I’d pick the same tours again.  Fortunately, everything I saw, I had never seen before !
  • One day, we went to a gold temple.  And yes, it was gold.  Past folks had taken chips of the gold, and the tour guide said, they need to bring it back, so they don’t have bad luck.
  • Temples are unbelievably everywhere. 
  • There was shopping at the pier in Bangkok; was great.  Ko Samui only had one tour operator, and it was a little higher in cost.  Naturally, I bought stuff anyway (a statue head & some spoons).
  • We went to a post office, which was HUGE.  With many vendors inside selling items.  There was no time, to truly shop !  I think I bought one brooch, and I’m keeping it for myself !
  • The day tour, our lunch was included.  A gorgeous buffet lunch.
  • Another day, we at a resort, and had to walk way down to the beach.  Buffet was fabulous and so were the views.  Not fun walking back up the hill, for any of us.
  • One day, we had our meal in a hotel, which we had to purchase.  Donna bought small egg rolls and I had a shrimp dish.

 

Singapore:

  • This is where we disembarked.
  • I had cruised from here before.  However, the only thing I saw, last time, was the Merlion Amusement area shopping (we didn’t have time to visit the amusement area – actually we didn’t realize there was a whole amusement area, till we left).
  • Donna & I took an all day tour.  Cost $189 each.  After the tour, I was taken to the airport, and Donna was taken near her hotel.
  • We had lunch at a very quaint place.  No one spoke English.    The food was ok.
  • It’s now all starting to run together, so I can’t remember what all we saw on the tour.  Maybe this is where we saw the gold temple !

 

Flight home:

  • Though it takes 2 days to get there, I was home by the next day.
  • 1st stopped in Shanghai for 8 hours.  Though if you’re only passing thru, you didn’t need a China Visa, if you wanted to go outside, you had to get a temporary free visa.
  • The second walk back into the airport, you go thru a quick security.
  • I had breakfast here.  Cost @ $25, but I had a sandwich, and 2 coffees, etc.
  • My next stop was Charlotte, for @ 4 hours.  Went thru immigration here.  Sadly, like most airports, it’s a long walk with no carts to ride, etc.
  • Unfortunately, I was coming back on Delta, so my closest airport was Roanoke.  I was fortunate, that 2 of my GF’s agreed to come pick me up, and then we went to dinner.  You can imagine, I was tired, and looked it too (eheheheh).

 

 

Food onboard:

  • In the regular dining room … Wasn’t ‘as good as’ the NCL Gem nor the NCL Spirit (Barcelona for Thanksgiving).
  • Cafeteria much larger than the NCL Gem.  The variety was unbelievable, with this itinerary.  Lots of Vietnam food, etc.  Lots of cultures onboard.  I still ate here limited, since I prefer the dining room, any time it’s open.
  • We were there, St Patty’s Day, so there was lots of ‘green foods’ in the café that day.
  • O’Sheehans (24 hrs) was good.  Had a Rubin sandwich, chicken wings, and Shepard’s pie, on different days.  I didn’t think their chocolate cheese cake as good, as on the NCL Spirit.  I didn’t go to any of theme dinners here, such as Prime Rib Night.
  • Le Bistro, though good, the portions were not as large as on the NCL Gem nor on the NCL Spirit.  However, the Napoleon brownie is always to die for , as on past NCL ships.  And this timed, we also tried the chocolate fondue –Yes, I ate fruit - Fun !
  • Maderno’s was still good.  On these smaller ships, the salad bar is not as larger, yet plenty.  Looking forward to the NCL Escape in October, where they usually have LARGE shrimp on the buffet too.  One has to watch not to eat too much, or you’re too full, when the carved meats come out.
  • Naturally, we ate as much as possible in the dining room for breakfast.  Though they did not have the muesli on the menu, like on the NCL Spirit, they were very accommodating and bringing it to me every morning !  One morning, we wanted to split a waffle, and they brought us both one – HUGE !
  • Donna had yoghurt & blueberries most dinners, for her dessert.  I had chocolate chip gelato (normally served with the Lava Cake), EVERY NIGHT … 4 scoops !  Oh my gosh !  Yummy !
  • Free Asian Restaurant – I went there once, for appetizers, before dinner.

 

Dining Room Service:

  • Amazed they didn’t  have the many supervisors, as normal.  Not having supervision, no one was keeping up with how slow the meal was service.  Normally, if I go in at 8:45 (even NCL), I’m out within 45 minutes.  Not so here - 1 1/2-2 hours.
  • Many of the waiters, no personality.  We finally found a few we enjoyed, so we asked for them.
  • Breakfast & lunch, we definitely had the better waiters !  Sadly, these folks went elsewhere for dinner.

 

Other Services:

  • Shore Excursion people, were good.  We pre-ordered before the cruise, yet unsure of a few.  They shared, which were popular & which to switch.  By the time we did switching, Donna & I ended up being on every tour together.
  • Pursers desk much better than other NCL ships.  They even had an extra person in the line, to ask what folks needed, which actually helped the line go faster.

 

Shops onboard:

  • Almost everything seemed at a high cost.  To include liquor & cigarettes.
  • There were a few sales - Didn’t buy a thing !

 

Entertainment:

  • We went to some.  Many times, we were too late getting out of dinner.
  • There were lots of stars onboard.  We did see them.  See pictures.
  • More often, we went to the games at 8pm, between shows (before dinner).
  • We went to bed early.  It was truly ‘port intensive’ !

 

Casino:

  • Donna had a lot of fun here.  Probably broke even.
  • I would put in a dollar a night.  I think I came ahead, $3.

 

 

Would I go back ?  Yes.  Loved the shopping in Vietnam ... And though I had been to Thailand, I saw so many new sights !  Loved the variet of food in the cafe, due to the many cultures there. Great Cruise ! 

 

My advice, to receive a true picture of this experience is ...

Go here:  Shutterfly & Look at my pictures ... 

To get a better feel, of what we saw !

 

It’s now your turn to go to Asia … I

t’s a lot of fun and many memorable beautiful sites !

(434) 237-3832

 

 
     
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