It’s Over. . .

Hard to believe, but our trip of a lifetime has ended.  But the good news is that there will be many more trips of a lifetime ahead!

Here are links to my posts on Hong Kong, as well as a summary of what we will do differently next time:

Land Ho!


To Market! To Market!

Christmas Eve

Christmas Day in Hong Kong

Home Again!

Lessons Learned

And last, but not least, a page that has links to all of my information about this trip (from planning to completion) all in one convenient location:

From Rome to Hong Kong


Chan May, Vietnam

We arrived early to port; our scheduled arrival was 7 pm but we were docked shortly after 3 pm.  As promised, this is an industrial port.  It was pouring down rain, so not much was visible.


On the port side of the ship (where our cabin is located) we could see some empty container ships as well as some little fishing boats.  We decided to go down to deck 7 to watch the ship pull into port and to people watch.  People were anxious to get off the ship but the landing process seemed to take extra-long.  We always laugh when they announce that the ship has not cleared local immigration; that seems to mean that the gangway isn’t ready or the photographers are not in place.  I don’t think it actually has anything to do with local officials.

While everyone waited for clearance, the captain reiterated that this is a port where there is nothing to see.  In order to get to the port exit, people would need to walk 15 to 20 minutes.  And, when you got there, there would likely be no taxis.  We had already decided not to get off the ship and to request reimbursement for our visas.  We were also standing near the port lecturer, Peter Croyle, who reiterated what the captain had said to the passengers he was chatting with.

As we were waiting, a small round boat appeared in front of us (there was a square area between two piers).  The boat looked to be about 10-12 feet in diameter (it was perfectly round) and was crammed full of people (at least 12).  The people had on helmets.  It was the strangest sight!  We wondered where they could be going because there was only about 2 feet of clearance under the pier.  One man was standing up using a single paddle to propel the “boat”.  As they approached the pier, he gave a verbal warning and everyone ducked (now we understood what the helmets were for!).  He propelled them under the pier to the other side.  Everyone on deck clapped and cheered when they reappeared.  They continued under one more pier and disappeared around the corner.

Peter said that those round boats are very common here (it is the only place in the world that uses them) and they are actually more like a big basket than a boat.  Some have motors on them but most use the single oar for propulsion.  We saw many more of these while docked, but most only had one or two people on them.  It was such a strange sight to see so many people crammed into such a small space.

People were so antsy to set foot in Vietnam that when finally clearance occurred, they were streaming off the ship.  They walked to the end of the pier and were perhaps expecting taxis for hire, but of course, there were not any there!  I wonder how many walked to the port gate and were disappointed to find that no taxis were waiting there, either.  It was dark by now, so I am not sure what they would expect to see anyhow!  My guess is that most walked out and then ended up walking back.  There was a small building that I think had some shop stalls set up.  The shopkeepers probably made a killing since this was the first shopping opportunity that people had.


I think the only option people had for tours the next day were the ones through NCL.  There were about 30 or so buses lined up the next morning.  There were 3 possible tours, each location about an hour or so from port.  But, people were so anxious to see something on this godawful cruise that they paid $69 per person for a visa and at least $69 per person to take a ship’s tour.  We will be coming back to Asia in the near future so did not want to waste the money.  We really don’t like being in large groups of people for tours, so for us, it was not worth the money or hassle.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that our Skyroam worked fairly well here in Chan May.  Since we are in the middle of nowhere, we assumed we would have no service.  Instead, we have been able to get on-line without using any of the ship’s usuriously priced internet minutes.  We are currently sitting out on our balcony, watching the ship’s crew perform their lifeboat drills.  This seems to consist of the lifeboats going in circles on the port side of the ship while someone yells directions at them.

I am sure that the crew is happy that most of the passengers are off the ship today.

We only have a few more days until we reach Hong Kong.  We still have the port of Sanya, but since won’t be getting off the ship, I don’t know if I will have anything more to post.  I suppose that will depend on if there is anything interesting going on in port that is visible from the ship!  If not, I will be making one more post when we get home about what went well and what will be done differently in the future (my “Lessons Learned” post).





Oh Dang, Nha Trang!

Actually, oh dang, Da Nang would rhyme better!  Yesterday, we were supposed to drop anchor in Nha Trang (it is a tender port).  Did you notice I said “supposed to” rather than “dropped anchor”?

After days and days at sea, I was really looking forward to getting off the ship.  One of the main reasons we had booked this cruise was to see Vietnam.  I had booked a cyclo tour (pedicab) of the city.  We were arriving at 8 am and would leave at 5 pm so I had told everyone in our group to get the first tender possible and meet on the dock (start time for the tour was 9 am).

Up until now, we have had amazing weather and sea conditions.  The night before we were to dock in Nha Trang, that all changed.  The waves were up to 18 feet which was enough to set the boat to rocking.  In our cabin, we kept hearing creaking noises as well as cabinets opening and closing (they did not latch).  This kept us awake much of the night as well as the anticipation of getting up early to get off the ship (I rarely sleep as well when I know I have to get up early in the morning).

When we got up the next day the seas were still very rocky.  We had breakfast and returned to our cabin to wait until it was time to get in line for the tender.  At around 7 am, the captain came over the loudspeaker to announce that we would not be stopping in Nha Trang; the sea conditions were too dangerous for tenders to run.  Dang!

We decided to stop by guest services to see about getting our money refunded for our Vietnam visas. Since we had decided not to get off the ship in Chan May (nothing to see or do near the port) we had no use for the visas.  The guest services rep said that it would not be a problem and that we would see the money refunded to our account by the next day (not too surprisingly, it is now the next day and no refund has appeared).  Next up, a walk around the promenade deck.  Due to the wave conditions, it was more like a drunken jag around the decks.  We made one lap and decided to give it up; it was just too hard to walk.  The motion of the ship at either end was significantly more noticeable than in the middle, making us very glad that we did not have a suite (most are located all the way fore or aft).  I also emailed the tour company to let them know we would not be able to go on the tour today.  I requested a refund, but due to the late notice, we will not receive one.  Of the three companies that we prepaid for tours, one has promised a partial refund (less than 50%), one a full refund and one no refund.

Since it was supposed to be a port day there were very few activities planned onboard.  And, since the weather was bad, the people that normally lay out in the sun had nothing to do, either.  All of the public areas of the ship were overrun with people.  Apparently, there was a “protest” of sorts as well – people hauled out their empty suitcases and congregated together.  I assume the message was, “let me off the ship!”.  Who knows.  By the way, about 10% of passengers did indeed leave the ship in Singapore rather than doing an 11-day slow boat to China cruise.

It was a very, very long day.

We will be docking in Chan May tonight and will be there until tomorrow evening.  As I mentioned earlier, there are no sights to see there.  Taxis don’t even visit the docks hoping to pick up passengers.  It is an industrial port and at least an hour away from anything worth visiting.  Essentially, a person would need to take an NCL tour or stay on board; we are opting to stay on board.

There is one more port stop after Chan May – Sanya, China.  From the research I had done pre-cruise, I had found very little to do there unless you want to go to the beach.  This is another port where your only option is an NCL tour so we will stay onboard again.

Only 4 more days until Hong Kong!!!

Sea Days

Since we now have five days at sea, I am taking the opportunity to respond to comments about shipboard life.  I know some of you that are reading my blog are going to be on the Star soon, so if you have any additional questions you would like answered, please leave a comment and I will do my best to answer you!

Life on the ship

Singapore and more Singapore

Today is our second day in Singapore (one would have been enough).  We will be leaving (hopefully) tomorrow afternoon.  Our lovely ship has a problem with its propulsion system, so we are stuck in the middle of the harbor for the time being!

Those of you that have commented that you would like to know more about life on the ship are in luck – due to the ship’s problems, we will have 7 out of the next 11 days at sea.  Most of our ports have been canceled.  Since I won’t have ports to write about, I will write about the ship!  Until then, you can read my posts about SIngapore and about the ship’s problems.

Singapore, Singapore

Oh, Dear!

It is hot here!

Rumor has it that it is snowing back home in Seattle.  It is hard to imagine, given that where we are, the temperatures are in the 90’s and so is the humidity!

We are in Langkawi, Malaysia today and will be in Penang tomorrow and Kuala Lumpur the next day.  Sunday is Singapore and the majority of the people on the cruise will be disembarking and a new group coming on board.

Phuket, Thailand

Langkawi, Malaysia