My friend Jo in Singapore has been kind enough to write this weeks guest post on her recent “Cruise to Nowhere” experience
Jo was born and raised in Surrey, in the United Kingdom and has been lucky enough to call Singapore home since 2011, when we met and became friends. Daughter of a Singaporean mother and an English father, She frequently travelled to Singapore and South East Asia as a child and has fond memories of visiting family and holidaying in Singapore, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, and Langkawi (be sure to check out her blogposts for unmissable tips on where to visit!) When she’s not staring at shophouses, eating something delicious or scrolling through Instagram, she runs the Digital Marketing business The Bloom Group and spreads colourful memories through her beautiful travel prints on Sayang From Su Yin.
“When it was first announced that Royal Caribbean were launching “cruises to nowhere” from Singapore, I thought the idea sounded insane. Well, 9 months later with no future travel in sight, we found ourselves pulling up to Marina Bay Cruise Centre to board the cruise to nowhere for 3 nights, our first ever cruise! So this is my very long winded official review of our Royal Caribbean cruise to nowhere.
First of all, Singapore had an extreme lockdown last year and tight border restrictions mean we’ve had little to no community cases over the last few months, with mandatory mask wearing everywhere you go, the second you leave your apartment. Singapore’s response to the pandemic has been fantastic, which is why we’re lucky enough to have such ‘travel’ opportunities. Only residents of Singapore are allowed to cruise (not that there are any tourists here right now anyway). A few days before boarding the cruise you must also have a negative Covid-19 test, which is included in your cruise price. It was uncomfortable but not as horrific as I thought. So overall, it feels relatively safe to board a cruise with a thousand other people!
The check in process was really smooth and took about 30 minutes. In true Singapore fashion everything was meticulously organised with no queues in sight. Do note – you will need your passport AND your IC to check in! Royal Caribbean have an amazing app which will be your go-to once you’re on board, but it also has your boarding details. After much scanning of our pass on the app, being set up with our ‘tracelet’ (which you must keep on at all times, except in the pool/your room) and going through immigration, we found ourselves on level 4 of the gigantic Quantum of the Seas, being directed to our room on level 11. Our set sail passes were slotted into our room number on the door, with our names and f&b package printed on the front of them. These will be your lifeline when you’re on board, so do not lose it!
We’d selected a premium balcony stateroom as I knew I’d want to make the most out of the lovely views. I was pleasantly surprised at how spacious the room was, with plenty of storage and seating space for the both of us. There’s a small fridge, and you’re allowed to bring snacks and 2 bottles of wine/champagne per stateroom with you – I also brought some 100 plus zero which I can’t live without.
The food and beverage packages are a little unclear but basically, your meals are complimentary on board. There are plenty of restaurants, but not all of them are included in your cruise price. Royal Caribbean will send you emails after your cruise booking, tempting you to add on extras. We didn’t opt for the speciality dining package, which offers unrestricted access to restaurants like Jamie’s Italian, Wonderland and Chops Grille, but we DID opt for the free flow alcohol package which was 100% worth it, and the wifi package. If you change your mind and want to book one of the speciality restaurants on board, you can do, for a set price per meal (and you can order as much as you want).
On the first day of your cruise, you won’t actually depart Singapore until 8pm so there’s lots of time to get your bearings and figure everything out. Once you’re in your room, it’s advised to book everything you’d like to do on board through the ‘my calendar’ option on your app. We had selected ‘my time dining’ so we needed to make sure we reserved our dinner slots in the main dining area, as well as the shows etc that we wanted to see. Everything books up really quickly, so make sure you book it all on the first day. There are so many activities to do, some free, some you’ll pay extra. There are shows, martini classes, pub quizzes, bumper cars, rock climbing, indoor skydiving, surfing, the North Star, music performances, the casino, shops, and so much more. We only booked one show, we figured we’d have to do at least one – it is a cruise after all!
The opening times for venues vary day to day, but can all be checked on your app (honestly, the app is so useful). We were starving when we boarded, so we headed to the main restaurant – the Windjammer on level 14 which is where we ate most of our meals. It’s canteen style, but feels like you’re walking into a Singapore brunch! There were so many stations; Chinese, Mexican, Indian, Western, a pasta station, a carvery, desserts, fruits… we were so impressed with the ‘free’ food. The breakfast was also incredible with a huge selection of cereals, cut fresh fruits, pastries, breads, noodles, proper pork sausages, both English bacon and American streaky bacon, baked beans, hashbrowns etc… we ate breakfast at the very back of the restaurant every morning, outside on the deck.
After our late lunch, we spent the first evening figuring out where everything was. There are many bars on board – it’s a good thing to scope them out early if you have the alcohol package. Remember even though you’re in international waters, the alcohol curfew still applies! You won’t be able to order alcohol past 10pm. When you order anything you must tap your card, and when you enter a different part of the ship, you must tap your card and have your temperature checked. Some people had bought along card holders and lanyards, which seemed like a really good idea. We ordered a few cocktails from the Pool Bar and headed up to the North Star Bar (which wasn’t actually open on the first night) to watch Singapore disappear into the distance. We spent the rest of the evening exploring, popping into the different bars – Schooners Bar being the favourite and visiting the pizza place which you order by the slice, and is open until 3am!
We’d booked the 4D3N cruise, which actually only gives you 2 full days on board. All we wanted to do was relax, drink and eat and we found the best place to do that as an adult couple was the Solarium – located at the front of the ship, it’s an adults-only area with an indoor pool, hot tubs, bistro and a bar. We spent the majority of our time on board in this area, reading, drinking and people watching.
For dinner on the second night, we headed down to the main dining area which is actually 2 restaurants that they’re using for the included dining, presumably just for this ‘cruise to nowhere’. Every meal here has 3 courses, so we saved it for dinner. There is so much food included, you will not go hungry! We opted to top up our meal to have the filet mignon from Chops Grille, which was delicious. We watched the Sequins and Feathers show which was fantastic, but I felt so sorry for them performing to such a small crowd.
We also got pedicures on board during our cruise and went up in the North Star, which is not really advisable if you have a fear of heights like I have but the views were totally worth it! If it’s your first cruise like us, you’ll be amazed at the sheer size of the ship. We walked over 10,000 steps every day which was a good thing with all of the food and aperol spritz’s I was consuming.
Before we knew it, the last night was upon us and we had an early call time of 8am to depart. Again, the procedure is super organised and simple to understand. You are assigned a time to leave, stick your tag to your bag, deposit your tracelet in a bin on the way out and simply walk off the ship. After a quick scan through immigration, we were in a Grab and heading home. Coming home so early we were pretty tired, so went straight back to bed once we’d arrived, feeling very much like we’d had a great holiday and break.
For what you pay for the cruise (all cruises to nowhere are currently 50% off), the quality of the food, the fact you actually leave Singapore and have so many things to do, I think it is totally worth the value for money. We’d pick this again over a staycation any day. Due to social distancing, the cruise is operating at a limited capacity meaning this is the only opportunity we’ll have to experience such a quiet cruise. I believe the Quantum of the Seas can occupy about 4,000 guests, but the most you’ll have is half of that. Because everyone has asked me about cost, we paid S$1,180 for our premium balcony stateroom and an additional S$480 for the free flow alcohol and internet package. So roughly $830 per pax for 3 nights, with all food, alcohol and internet included. A Singapore staycation would cost you far, far more – and at the end of the day, you’re still only sleeping about 10km from your house!
We’re looking to book again in May, so here are my top overall tips for the cruise to nowhere:
- Book your alcohol and internet packages before the cruise, they will send you some options (and discounts) a few weeks before
- Book your boarding time for as early as possible to maximise your time on board, we did the 2pm slot
- Book the ‘my time dining’, so you aren’t wedded to the dining time slots of 6-8pm or 8-10pm
- Book everything you want to do the moment you board, it all books up!
- You are allowed to take 2 bottles of wine/champagne per stateroom on board
- There is a small shop on level 4 for hygiene essentials, but it’s very expensive – so bring everything
- Carry your own luggage to and from the ship, do not check it in as it’ll take a long time to come to your room
- Bring a card holder or a lanyard for your card, it gets annoying bringing it out every time
- Bring comfortable masks, you will need to wear them at all times when you’re not eating, drinking, in your room or in the pool (yes this even means when you’re sunbathing)
- Pack a travel adapter too, there are USB ports in your room but they aren’t overly powerful
- If you get seasick, bring tablets. You may not need them but you can definitely feel the ship moving more than I thought you’d be able to (only very, very slightly though)
For a full recap of our trip – check out the highlights on my Instagram stories. Let me know over there if you’ve got any other questions!”
Thanks to Jo for this great post on her “Cruise to Nowhere” it’s so interesting seeing what travel options are available to friends around the world these days!
Have you done anything different during Covid? Let me know in the comments!