Viet Nam Cruise to Viet Nam and the Philippines Philippines

5th - 19th February 2017

Itinerary: Singapore - Phu My - Da Nang - Hong Kong - Manilla - Boracay - Kota Kinabalu - Singapore

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03 February. Heathrow to Singapore. I had a convoluted route to Singapore. London - Amsterdam - Jakarta - Singapore. This was partly because my original London to Jakarta flight was cancelled. I was booked in business class but had the option to bid-upgrade my Amsterdam - Jakarta leg to first class. I did and I got it. Probably my only ever flight in first class. As I left the plane in Amsterdam, a lady was waiting by the plane door. She asked me my name, took me through a door at the top of the air bridge, put me in a car and drove me to the Schiphol VIP Centre. There I was given champagne and sandwiches, my passport taken away and returned with a new boarding card. A few minutes before take off, a man came, took me downstairs where I went through security, back into the car and driven to the plane. I boarded through the front door, shown to my seat and given pin kchampagne. Soon after take-off I was given more champagne, caviar, sour cream, blinis and prawn crackers. When I got to Jakarta they gave me my pre-completed entry document for Singapore. During the whole flight I only saw the other two passengers and the four first class cabin crew. Amazing flight and all for just over £200!

04 February. Singapore. Today we went to Universal Studios, where I'd been before but which was Javon's first visit. Late in the evening we went to Raffles Hotel for a Singapore Sling in the Long Bar, before finally heading for a couple of other bars.

05 February. Singapore. We checked out of the hotel at 10:45 and were on board at 11:45. Not bad! A quick exploration of the ship before the cabins opened and we unpacked, took part in the muster drill and finally sailed away.

07 February. Phu My, Viet Nam. Tim from Cruise Critic had organised a trip to Ho Chi Minh City. In the event, there were only four of us in the van, Tim, his wife Mary, Javon and me. The ship had docked by the time we woke up, which meant we were able to get off early. Our first stop was Reunification Palace. Unlike my last visit, we were able to go inside. There, we saw the board room, games room, cinema, conference room and the bunker. A short visit to Notre Dame cathedral and the Post Office next. Then we went to the War Remnants Museum, which was full of awful artefacts from the Viet Nam war. One of the things we saw was the guillotine, which the French had brought over. I had asked if it was possible to visit the Hard Rock Café, so we all went there for a beer (my 33rd HRC) and then we went to Pho 2000. Not surprisingly to eat Pho! Bill Clinton had eaten Pho here in 2000, hence the restaurant's name. We then visited the Rex Hotel, famous as the haunt of Viet Nam war correspondents. A quick trip through Chinatown next before a visit to a market where both Tim and Javon bought coffee. But special coffee as it had been eaten and excreted by weasels! A good day, made nicer by the fact that there were only four of us and Luan, our guide, was able to change and add things for us. Javon enjoyed his first port day.

09 February. Da Nang, Viet Nam. Another trip organised by Tim. We were supposed to go to Hue, but our guide said that the weather was really bad there and suggested that we went to Hoi An via Da Nang instead. So that's what we did. First things that we saw were oyster beds and these were poles with scooter tyres twisted round them and then the oysters would cling to the tyres. They were removed simply twisting the tyres. The empty tyres were then left on the road for cars and such like to run over them to remove the old shells. Then we saw some fishermen in Da Nang. They used small round boats like coracles to set sail on the sea to catch fish. It was raining by this time and by the time we got to Hoi An, it was really throwing it down. We then went to an old Sailors Temple and an original house, that had been in the same family for six generations. After that we had a boat ride on the Hoai river, where we saw more fishermen. After lunch, we did a little souvenir shopping before returning back to the ship. On the way we stopped at a little garden village, where we saw all the organic vegetables and herbs grown for both home and restaurant consumption. We saw a tiny eight eight year old lady working in the fields and a couple of minutes later a ninety two year old man and his eighty eight year old wife. Then a final stop to see a pagoda high on a hill before arriving back at the ship 10 minutes before 'all on board' time. A good day, despite the bad weather at the start of the tour.

11 February. Hong Kong, China. We didn't achieve much of what we planned today. The ship arrived early and docked behind Celebrity Millennium. The CM was the first Celebrity cruise ship I sailed on. We took the shuttle bus to a local mall and then the MTR to another mall where we knew Hollister had a shop. Unfortunately, it didn't open until 11am, so we watched some kids on the indoor ice rink and drank coffee until then. Javon bought a couple of shirts and we then went to Mong Kok for dim sum. The original plan was to the go to the Peak, but time didn't allow. So off we went to the Star Ferry and crossed to the island where we went on the HK Observation Wheel. Then after a quick visit to the local Apple Store, it was back to Festival Walk where he bought more Hollister shirts. I also bought a shirt from Uniqlo. We then went back to the shuttle pick up point, only to find we'd missed the last one! So off in a taxi we went. Made it back on board by the skin of our teeth.

13 February. Manilla, Philippines. My 65th birthday, I'm now officially an OAP! Today's tour was our only official Celebrity tour and it was dreadful. We went to Tagaytay, a hill top resort outside of Manila. The bus we went in was old, overloaded and with no seat belts. The PA didn't work properly which meant that most of the guide's commentary went unheard by Javon and me in the back seat which was very uncomfortable. It took about three hours to get to Tagaytay, with a stop to look at a bamboo organ and a little after that a visit to a jeepney repair shop, which was interesting. Tagaytay is a pretty town. We had lunch at a local hotel. Then we discovered that we then had 15 minutes to look at the lake. This is supposed to be very pretty and is a lake within a volcano within a lake within a volcano!! Unfortunately it was wet and very misty and therefore we were unable to see much. After that it was a hair raising ride back to the ship. While Celebrity cannot be held responsible for the weather they should have warned us that, effectively, we were travelling for two hours each way for a mediocre lunch in a substandard coach. When the Shore Excursions desk opens this evening, a complaint will be going in. We had dinner in Ocean Liners this evening and very nice it was too.

14 February. Boracay, Philippines. A tender port today and because of high winds the Captain decided that it was unsafe to lower the tenders and the decision was made to abandon the planned visit. At around midday we sailed away from Boracay towards Kota Kinabalu, our last port. On the bright side we've had a 30% refund on yesterday's trip.

16 February. Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Today we visited the Mari Mari cultural village because Javon wanted to see long houses. Five of the major tribes of Borneo were represented, including two head hunting tribes. There was also a cultural show. We both agreed that it was better than either a trip to the beach or Tagaytay.

18 February. Singapore. We were invited up to the heli pad for the sail in to Singapore. This was great fun and we were provided with Singapore Slings too! We slowly approached the dock and saw the mooring ropes sent out and attached to the stanchions. Someone was flying a drone near us. After a trip through immigration, we walked to Marina Bay Sands through the Gardens by the Bay. We went up to the Skydeck where unfortunately my camera lens got stuck, so my photos were taken on my phone.

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Schiphol VIP Centre Ticket First class suite Champagne and caviar Hotel atrium Hotel decoration


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Sculpture Lion dancers Universal Studios Universal Studios Roller coasters Shrek's Castle


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Javon & Me Funnel Sculpture Statue Pools Cabin


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Main dining room Phu My Boat Constellation Street Us


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Us Palace Tank Boardroom Conference room Anteroom


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Picture Seat Unicorn Helicopter Cathedral Guillotine


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Roundabout Us Incense Oyster beds Oysters Fishing boats


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Fishermen Water buffalo Javon Dragon Altar Floor tiles


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Dragon Bridge Houses Fishing nets Boats Boat


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Garage Pagoda Fishing net Street Water Buffalo Gardener


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Gardeners Old couple Pagoda Statue Millenium & Constellation Rooster


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Javon Dim Sum Ferry & liner Constellation & Millenium Junk Central Pier


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HKOW Fair Tree Filipino welcome Organ Organ


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Jeepney Javon Jeepney Me Lake Taal Cooking dinner


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Serving up Lobster Dessert Boracay Boracay Boracay


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Outrigger Boracay Dragon Malaysian welcome Food Making fire


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Fire! Longhouse Cooking Javon Me Store room


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Shrunken heads Javon Head poles Trampolining Show Us


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Constellation Singapore Singapore Singapore Drone Mooring


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Gardens by the Bay Gardens by the Bay Gardens by the Bay Singapore Flyer Singapore Mountains


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Page created 26th February 2017