We chose this particular cruise for the ports of call, none of which we have been to before and also the chance to see the sights around Beijing before the cruise.
It all started out so normally. An Emirates flight from Dublin to Dubai and onto Beijing Capital airport, arriving mid afternoon on what became a date written in infamy.....October 4th.
After landing in Beijing, I was able, through a VPN to access Facebook (banned in China like a lot of things). There is a dedicated page for the October 7th cruise and it advised that Chinese Immigration was randomly refusing entry to travellers who were applying for the 144 Hour Transit visa. As our party of four was hoping to enter China this way, it was a very worrying time. After completing the fingerprint process we lined up at the Transit Visa desk and witnessed what can only be described as the start of a nightmare for the unfortunates who were refused entry, with no reason being given. After more than 2 hours we reached the desk and all of us were granted the visa. It was a pure lottery. On the ship later we heard stories of families being split up. some allowed entry with the rest refused and given till midnight to leave China or face arrest. Many intrepids managed to fly to Japan to join the ship two days late in Fukuoka , at great cost, as the airlines raised the prices astronomically. Others just gave up and flew home. Heartbreaking.
After seeing the sights of Beijing, Great Wall. Forbidden City etc, we took the Bullet train to Tianjin West on the morning of the cruise, then a taxi.
The Cruise port at Tianjin is modern and well laid out. Embarkation was quick and painless and we were onboard within 30 minutes of arrival.
For the past few months, Quantum has been doing Round trip cruises from Tianjin to Japan with a mainly Chinese/Asian clientel. This cruise had 2500 from the UK, 500 from Germany, 300 from USA and about 600 from everywhere else. All the signs on the ship are in English and Chinese and the majority of the crew were also Chinese. Having cruised on the sister ship, Anthem of the Seas last year, we knew our way around.
The cabins and public areas were in good condition as you would expect. Diamond members and above were well catered for in the Music Hall.
Dining.... I dont want to appear to be critical but overall, the quality of food at Dinner in the MDR (We were Second sitting in Chic) was not near the standard of previous cruises. Indeed on the second night ,in conjunction with our table mates from the UK, we called for the Maitre D and complained about the food quality and the fact that dinner did not end till 1030 on that particular night. It was obvious the restaurant was understaffed. In all fairness, the service improved dramatically, as did the food on occassion, but it was still not what it should be,
Entertainment.... 7/10 would be generous. A distinct lack of 'killer' shows, A couple of decent acts like Darren Day and a good Beatles tribute act. Some decent music in Boleros from the house bands. The CD, Ken Jones was ok. Probably the most entertaining spot was the Destination Lectures by an Australian Barrister called Andrew Gregson, who drew great crowds to the theatre each time he appeared. His wife also gave very interesting talks in 270 on a variety of subjects such as the History of Champagne and Henry VIII.
Ports of Call..
Fukuoka , Japan... Lovely city with friendly natives.
Tapei. Taiwan. Modern , affluent, and the 101 Tower.
Hong Kong. Visit cut short by 8 hours due to unrest, Fascinating city. Not enough time there;
Chan May (Da Nang) Vietnam. Port in the middle of nowhere, Torrential mosoon weather should have curtailed our excursion here. It was physically dangerous.
Phu My ( Ho Chi Minh) Totally bonkers place with thousand s of mopedfs. Crossing the road an unforgettable experience. Did the Cu Chi tunnels which were fascinating.
Singapore. Hot. humid, expensive.
This cruise probably deserves a 3.5 rather than a 4.
The crew seemed inexperienced and lacked guidance.
The cabin was what we expected, the attendant did a really good job