Princess Asia Cruise - Bangkok to Beijing
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Princess Asia Cruise - Bangkok to Beijing Reviews
Nov 02, 2007
Princess was one of the few cruise lines I found that offered this itinerary. For 2007, in the fall, the Sapphire Princess Cruise Ship, part of Princess Cruise Line's fleet, offered a trip from Bangkok to Beijing over 16 days. Also, they offer the same cruise in reverse.
Overall the trip was great. We choose this cruise for two reasons, the most important of which was the ports of call. It also fit well with our vacation schedule this year.
The ship started at Bangkok. I was a little disappointed in Princess because many of their documents suggested that ship started in Bangkok. While the information they provided did say that the port was in Laem Chabang it didn't clarify that the port was nearly 2 hours away. I think we were lucky that the hotel we choose (the Asia Hotel) was a place where Princess was hosting many of the ship passengers and we were able to catch a ride for only $65/pp.
I was further disappointed in the way Princess handled the embarkation. To their credit I spoke with some who had a great experience with the embarkation that was not the case for many of us. They seemed to have scheduled the majority of their hotel to ship transfers to arrive at the same time. I think we were in line for 2 solid hours before boarding.
While the start of the trip was rough, the ship and its crew helped to make up for it. The entertainment staff was great and did everything they could to keep us entertained. The band, Deep Blue, was incredible and had a great selections of songs they could play. Everyone on the ship was incredibly friendly and helpful.
The food, I thought, was a bit lacking compared to my experiences on 7-day Carnival Cruises. Princess has a great program called Dine Anytime where passengers can eat anytime between 5:30pm and 10:30pm in one of 4 dining rooms. On this cruise the waits between courses were a bit long but I wasn't in a rush anyway. If you prefer you can still eat at a set time. While much of the dining room food was good to great the buffet was not as robust. I think that this had to do with the fact that the cruise had passengers from over 34 countries. It seemed that the ship was working hard to make sure everyone had something they would be interested in eating. Don't get me wrong...the food was good, and there was a good selection, especially if you were interested if trying some new foods. They also have a pizza bar and grill open during lunch into early evening which had great pizza and burgers.
The ports on this cruise were great. Singapore, Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), Na Trang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Shanghai, Nagasaki, Okinawa,. That of course not counting Beijing and Bangkok.
Unfortunately, just as with Bangkok, the ports for Ho Chi Minh (Vung Tau) and Taiwan (Keelong) are both far from the actual city. With the time constraints of being on a ship we were forced to take a tour of Ho Chi Minh since the trip was 2 hours one way by bus. I would have preferred the option of exploring the city on my own but was surprised that we were so far from Ho Chi Minh.
Keelong is only about 30 min away by train which was easy to catch so that was nice.
With those slight disappointments out of the way I have to say that was was very pleased with the ports. Every stop was exciting and different.
The nightlife on the ship was a bit lacking, however we did meet some great people to socialize with during the day and nights. I think the reason things were so subdued was again because of the diversity of passengers. I'm not sure that many of them spoke much English so they may have not felt comfortable participating in this way. At night they offered many activities. Dancing to a live band; movie time in a theater, games, Vegas style shows, a comedian, a magician, a casino, classical music in the atrium, and more.
During the day they offered educational lectures, movies, ping pong, ceramic painting, shuffle board, swimming (I never did count how many pools they had, there were a lot), a library with books and games, trivia, pool games, demonstrations of ice carving, wine tasting sessions, and more. It took a lot of effort to decide to stay in the room even though they offered several movies a day on three different channels, lots of television channels including news and sitcoms. My favorite activity was just reading inside of the covered pool area. It only started to get a little cold when we got farther north towards Beijing. The rest of the trip was beautiful.
I strongly encourage anyone who is interested in Asia, or cruising in general, to take this trip with Princess. It's always easy to mention the few negative aspects but I assure you that this cruise is well worth the expense and travel time.
Part of the Asian Cruise travel blog
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