Cruising from Singapore to Penang, Langkawi and Phuket on the Mariner of the Seas
As part of the 50th birthday celebrations we decided on cruising Asia on the Mariner of the Seas cruise ship from Singapore. We have travelled to Asia previously spending a lot of time in Thailand but had not cruised this region before.
We were excited about cruising Asia on the Mariner of the Seas and exploring more of Malaysia, as our first visit to Kuala Lumpur had not inspired us.
Embarkation was swift and we were on board by 11am, we could not go to our cabins until 1pm but that gives you some time to wander the ship and get your bearings.
We had a fun first day on the ship, wonderful afternoon spent in the Ellington Bar which has panoramic views over the pool area and beyond.
We met a wonderful couple called Alec and Marcy who now live in Bali but were originally from Scotland and Australia, both now in their late 70′ s, they are still having fun and travelling the world, a true inspiration! Our evening finished superbly by a singing trio from Australia called La Forza which was the headliner show in the Savoy theatre.
Cruising Asia – Port Klang, Malaysia
Our first port of call was Port Klang in Malaysia the gateway to visit Kuala Lumpur. We got up at 0600 for breakfast on the balcony and to watch the sail in to Port Klang. This is an industrial area so not the most picturesque, however, we enjoyed the sunrise and we are always amazed how the captain manages to dock such a humongous ship!
There is very little at Port Klang, a few tourist shops, cafe, ATM machine and a free wifi area which was painfully slow. The majority of passengers who got off were going to Kuala Lumpur which is about an hour away by road. As we had previously visited we made the most of the pool deck facilities and had a lovely day just chilling in the solarium and jacuzzi pools.
The evening was spent in the Wig and Gavel, the pub on the promenade on deck 5, having a sing along with a singer Phil Staniforth. Then the fun continued in the Dragon’s Lair disco on deck 3 until 0200 which seemed like a good idea at the time!
Cruising Asia – Penang, Malaysia
Our second port of call was Penang, a Malaysian island off the Malay Peninsula situated in the Malacca Strait. This port of call was our first reason why we chose cruising Asia on the Mariner of the Seas. We woke up to a fantastic low full moon then the Captain span the ship around for a beautiful sunrise, which we were able to see from our balcony! We really enjoy watching the sail in to the ports, even though it means getting up at dawn as they can be pretty magical, and this is one of the reasons we always try and book a balcony cabin.
We docked in George Town, the capital of Penang. We had pre booked the Penang Food Trail with Royal Caribbean before we embarked and had cost us just under £20 each. We were really looking forward to trying some more Malaysian food as in Kuala Lumpur it had not tickled our taste buds!
The tour organisation on the ship was excellent and we were soon on our coach. As the tour was 5 hours long we imagined that we would get time to sample all sorts of delights. It turned out it was a whistle stop tour of various eatery’s, literally so fast you didn’t have time to eat! First we were herded through a market, not given time to stop at the stalls, as we were frightened to lose the group. We managed to grab a few pictures but that was about all, very disappointing as we do love a mooch round a market.
The tour guide was lovely but we unfortunately couldn’t understand very much of what she said but we all smiled a lot! At one stop we ended up at a shopping mall and had a little time to buy some food, we bought a chicken pie which was so sweet it was very odd! Another stop was a chocolate factory where there was samples to try, we particularly liked the Chilli Chocolate that did blow our head off! There was one stop towards the end where we were given time to sit and enjoy a quick meal. We chose a noodle type soup which had a thick fishy gravy and an egg in it, it was so fishy strong it wasn’t the delight on the palate we were hoping for!
The educational tour didn’t quite deliver as we are still not much wiser when it comes to Malaysian food but we did do a lot of belly laughing with a lovely couple from Leicester, called Kev and Linda!
The tour did pass through some of the areas with the famous street art. So we were able to get some pictures and see the famous floating umbrellas.
In hindsight it would be just as easy to make your own way into Georgetown as it was approximately 10 minutes, and there were also taxis readily available.
After a few early mornings and late night, we returned to our cabin for an afternoon nap. Our deluxe balcony cabin was 7318 and on Deck 7, and our cabin steward was called Bowess. He was a joy, always helpful, nothing was too much trouble.
Our cabin was clean and comfortable. It was in a central position on the ship so the location was great. We have always found the beds on the Royal Carribean ships to be really comfortable with lovely cotton bedding and this was no exception, we slept really well throughout the cruise. Simple things like good bedding make us very happy!
Cruising Asia – Langkawi, Malaysia
Our 3rd port of call cruising Asia on the Mariner of the Seas was Langkawi. We woke up to another amazing sunrise as we docked in Langkawi. Have a look at our view as we sailed in…
When we able to get off the ship we walked along the platform to the mainland and found a taxi. We asked to be taken to the nearest beach Pantai Cenang and which cost 30 Ringgits (£5). We rode for about 10 minutes and arrived at the beach, it was lovely and clean, and we enjoyed a walk down the beach. It was an extremely hot day but there was shade and a wooden walkway so you could explore the beach without frying!
We made our way up to the main road from the beach and found a Reflexology Spa where we treated ourselves to an hours foot and back massage. It worked out at just over £10 each, still good value compared to UK prices however, double the price you would pay in Thailand. Cenang looks like a lively area to spend an evening with lots of places to eat and drink, we think we will return at some point, possibly on our way to Koh Lipe which is another island on our to do list!
The Sapphire Princess had also been docked in Langkawi, in fact we seen her most days during our cruise, here she was tendering passengers to shore which was great to watch.
With Royal Caribbean there is the Crown and Anchor Club, a loyalty programme where you accrue points for each night you are cruising on board. We are now Platinum members which does come with some perks, including priority embarkation and a dressing gown – simple things make us happy!
Another perk was an invite to the Top Tier Party hosted by the Master and Hotel Director. This was our first invitation to the private event, even though we are not normally into pompous affairs, we were interested to see what it entailed. We actually really enjoyed it, with complimentary champagne and canopies, and watching the Captain present an award to the passengers who had sailed the most nights on Royal Caribbean ships. We have got a long way to go before we are up for any!
For dinner we had requested a table for 2 but given a table for 10. We normally don’t mind this but this time just wanted a table for 2 which we did get after speaking to the Maitre’d. Our table was in a small room off the main dining room and actually lacked atmosphere. We must admit that we were disappointed with the service and the food at dinner in the main dining room compared to our previous cruises with Royal Carribean and opted to spend some of our meals in the buffet restaurant, the Windjammer.
However, we were impressed with the standard of food and the service at both breakfast and lunch in the main dining rooms.
Cruising Asia – Phuket, Thailand
Our next port of call while cruising Asia on the Mariner of the Seas was Phuket. Infact it was an overnight stay and we were so excited to be back in a country we love Thailand.
This was our first port where we were not docked alongside but had to tender to the shore. We were tendered just off Patong Beach. Patong Beach is not the best beach, if you don’t explore the other beaches it really doesn’t give a true reflection of how beautiful the island of Phuket is. We think if this had been our first time to Thailand and all we had seen was Patong we possibly may not have come back.
A couple we have met on the cruise, Kev and Linda had not been to Thailand before so we jumped in a taxi and headed north to Bang Tao and beach hopped our way back on a longtail boat. Phuket is a beautiful island and the beaches are really worth a visit.
We had a great fun day out, and headed back to the ship. We had previously stayed in Phuket and had a mad night out on Bangla Road which is the heart of party district, it is definitely worth a visit however we stayed on the ship and had a great night dancing on the pool deck!
We always purchase a drinks package when we cruise as we do like trying all the different cocktails and the different brands on board. We choose the Premium drinks package but there are other packages available. For more information read our previous post about drinks packages here.
Our last day of cruising Asia on the Mariner of the Seas was spent at sea, and there was plenty of things to do. Every evening the Cruise Compass is delivered to your cabin and you can plan your days, take a highlighter pen with you as it can come in handy.
One of the reasons we love the Royal Caribbean ships is the promenade, it is the centre of the ship and makes finding your way around very easy. Here’s a look around…
The entertainment was mixed, with a diverse passenger list with the majority either Chinese or Australian, it must be very difficult to cater for. However in trying to cater for everybody, with a few exceptions, we felt the excellent standards that we have come to expect from Royal Caribbean fell short on this cruise.
Royal Carribean are unique in that the majority of their ships have an ice rink. The ice show that we watched was spectacular, so if you do get the opportunity to see one of these shows you should, as it was definitely one of the highlights of our cruise.
The evening was finished perfectly with an excellent performance from the Royal Caribbean Singers, Dancers and Orchestra. However, we do feel that Royal Caribbean need to shake things up a bit as this is the same show that we have seen on our last 6 cruises!
This was our first experience of sailing in Asia as we normally cruise out of the UK, the itinerary has been excellent, and we have spent the majority of the week laughing with some new friends!
The other plus is cruising in a climate where the majority of the time can be spent on deck which isn’t always an option when sailing from the UK. We had had a wonderful week and were sorry to see it coming to an end.
Cruising Asia – Singapore
On day 7 of cruising Asia on the Mariner of the Seas we returned to Singapore, a place we have got to know well. Singapore is a wonderful city to explore so do check out our Top Tips for visiting Singapore if you are planning a visit. We also treated ourselves to a night at the beautiful Marina Bay Sands Hotel which was amazing and you can read all about our stay here.
We really enjoyed our cruise on the Mariner of the Seas, the ship is beautiful but looking a bit tired. Our last cruise had been on the Explorer of the Seas to the Norwegian Fjords and had just had a refurbishment so it was hard not to keep comparing. We always purchase a drinks package which for us works out well, this comprehensive post via Cruising with Kids describes the types of drinks packages available and their prices (published June 2018).
Overall we loved our cruise but remain uncertain about Malaysia, our hearts still favour Thailand, saying that, I am sure we will revisit this part of the world at some point in the future.
We have already booked our next cruise which is in October on the Independence of the Seas, sailing to Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands so look forward to sharing that with you too!
Have you cruised on the Mariner of the Seas or visited these ports of call? We would love to hear your comments below.
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