To cruise or not to cruise? For many years that was the question. We always had the idea that it was something for the elderly and/or obese Americans. A few years ago a friend convinced us to give it a try so we left for Singapore to board for a short cruise.
The first day we spent at sea and had time to explore the ship and handle the jetlag. The kids especially loved it. A swimming pool, jacuzzi, Luna Park, shops, restaurants were all within reach. All you can eat drinks and ice cream - what more do you need when you are 4 and 7 years old?
The first stop was Phuket in Thailand. The ship can’t dock here so we were brought to the shore by tenders (the lifeboats of the ship). Our first steps on Thai soil were a big disappointment. Patong Beach is one of the less attractive places in Thailand. It is especially known for sex tourism. After a brief look we arranged a taxi to show us around the region.
We visited a cashew factory and now understand why those nuts are so expensive. First the nuts are cooked twice. Thereafter, the hard shell is removed with a kind of sewing machine, and the soft shell is taken away with a small knife. One worker can handle up to 100 kilos of nuts a day.
A little further you will find the Buddhist temple 'Wat Mongkol Nimit’. Inside is a glass sphere in which is kept a little ‘bone’ of Buddha according to the legend. From the balcony you have a beautiful view.
Afterwards the taxi takes us to Island Safari Club. In this beautiful park you can take a ride on an elephant, which these days is very controversial. You can also see how buffalo are used to process the rice fields.
After a long tiring day we return to the ship to relax and enjoy a delicious dinner.
Every morning our youngest son woke up and yelled "Mama, which country are we now?" This morning we were in Malaysia (Langkawi).
We booked a boat trip through the mangroves. We saw iguanas, monkeys and beautiful birds. The kids enjoyed the 'creepy' environment. During a brief stop we visited a cave inhabited by thousands of bats. In the fish farm we saw stingrays, crabs and small fish jumping meters high to spit and catch insects. Along the way we enjoyed some eagles that flew around above us and dived occasionally straight down to catch a fish.
We celebrated New Year's Eve aboard and posed for the obligatory kitsch pictures.
The next stop was Kuala Lumpur. Since we were here a few years earlier (read more in our blog post about Malaysia & Borneo), we decided to spent the last day on board, so the kids could enjoy the pool and other entertainment on board.
After returning to Singapore we took the speed ferry to Bintan. In less than 2 hours you reach this beautiful Indonesian island, ideal for a short beach holiday. We stayed in Hotel Angsana Bintan.
Since we are not real beach-lovers, we arranged a trip with a taxi driver. Our kids enjoyed the boat ride through the mangroves in Malaysia, so we were going to do this again here. Along the way we passed a large pile of sand where the mangrove wood is burned until it becomes charcoal. Fortunately, these days it is forbidden to cut down mangrove. We passed a lot of kids who were looking for crabs and shells. Suddenly it became very dark and we were treated to a huge thunderstorm. Time to go back to the hotel. We agreed the taxi driver would pick us the next day for a tour around the island.
He took us to a pineapple plantation. Did you know that a pineapple grows on a small shrub? The first year, the shrub produces a big pineapple, the next two years a little one and then the plant dies. Thus, it is quite labor intensive to grow pineapple.
In the morning we made a brief stop on the beach and taught our children how to drink from a coconut. On the beach was a wooden construction that floats at high tide and becomes a floating fishing boat with sleeping facilities. In the afternoon we stopped at a dingy restaurant where we ate the best crab ever - a great ending to our holiday.
The next morning we took the speed ferry to Singapore and then back to Amsterdam.
To cruise or not to cruise?
We have to admit it, cruising is a lot more fun than expected. Without children we would definitely opt for a smaller boat, but especially with children, it is a very comfortable way to travel. You can see a lot in a short time and yet you can unpack your bags and you need not spend hours sitting in the car. Of course you visit only a small part of the country you are calling, but you do get a good impression and can decide which countries are worth an extended visit. So, definitely worth repeating!
For more information about Cruising Legend of the Seas, visit Royal Carribean.com
Thinking about cruising the Greek island? Read all about it over here.
To cruise or not to cruise? What is your answer? Do you have any suggestions for our next cruise? Please share them below.