“Where are you?”
Photos of me in a Jacuzzi with an aqua blue sea behind me had my friends from Beijing to Shanghai to Hong Kong envious as I wechatted images out.
I was actually on the 17th floor deck aboard the Genting Dream cruise vessel.
It was somewhere afloat off Hong Kong in the South China Sea. The soft March sun beat down as I lounged in one of the rear Jacuzzis taking in the outdoor deck Zouk Beach scene and calm waters nearly 20 stories below.
As one of the largest passenger ships on earth, I was feeling lucky to be on one of its early voyages with Hong Kong and Nansha, Guangzhou weekend getaways around the South China Sea. These also include longer five-day voyages down to Yalong Bay and Da Nang in Vietnam. Of course, these are mostly over for this season, as are the lively five-night trips between the coast of Guangdong and Vietnam. Just a few more are sailing for this March.
With room for over 3,500 passengers and a crew of 2,000, this ship is among the biggest working the waters of Asia—and perhaps finest. Come next month in April, it will feature 5-night trips between Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and Okinawa, Japan. Come this December it will moor in Singapore with Indonesian, Malaysian, and Thai destinations.
After lounging in the late afternoon sun, I retired to my cabin for a fast shower and nap. The cabin has a small deck with chairs that allow the easy breeze to freshen the ambiance. After 90 minutes of fresh sea air and slumber, I put on my black tie to hit the 16th floor 360 Bar for drinks. There was a private cocktail at 7:00 on the 17th deck at the Zouk Beach club, followed by a late dinner in the Dream Dining Room replete with a traditional Chinese qipao fashion show. But I wanted to start the night right with a few frosty ones. Rising in rotunda fashion from the 15th to 17th deck in the center of the ship, the 360 Bar features lots of great seats to watch the live action. And, trust me, there is all kind of action moving around the decks with lively tables and characters.
After snapping along to some light jazz ballads at 360 Bar, I headed up to Zouk Club. Named after the iconic and eponymous Zouk Club in Singapore, it has a side-glow in the dark bowling alley, billiards, karaoke and laser disco with hits like Pitbull’s Rain Over Me blaring for maximum hip-gyration pleasure.
For example, breakfast on the wrap-around back of the 16th deck offers exceptional views at the Lido restaurant—and the buffet with fluffy pancakes to steamed siu mai dumplings caters to the best of East and West.
I’d planned to spend the next morning resting up at the Lido after a long night of good times. Up at Zouk, scores of Chinese were decked out in slim fitting qipaos and long Shanghai gangster outfits. It was, after all, a special 1930s era Shanghai party complete with a fashion show to cap the night off. With swish cruise ship hits and dancers dressed up like Chinese cinema icon Maggie Cheung and mermaids, the Zouk’s LED dancer floor area was the place to start to the night. I nursed a few nice champagnes and chatted with some Russian mermaids before heading down for succulent eight-course dinner at the Dream Dining Room on the 7th floor.
Glammed up with lights and photographers, the crowd, mainly Hong Kongers, had come out in force in traditional qipaos and tuxedos. They were ready for good times with exploding glitter, free flow red wine, and little golden eggs for the Chinese Year of the Rooster—some of which offered free trips in April to Okinawa.
Winners of that prize will get to beach blaze soon in Naha and Miyakojima in Okinawa on this 150,000 ton vessel, the most spacious in the Asia-Pacific region. Many will enjoy the exclusive two floors of executive Dream Suites complete with European butler services. The five night cruise leaves from stops in Hong Kong and the port of Nansha in Guangzhou up the Pearl River before making the Okinawa stops. This option sails through the end of November when the ship heads down to Singapore.
Beginning in December 2017, it will feature two night and five night cruises to Kuala Lumpur and Penang, Malaysia and Phuket, Thailand, and 5 night cruses to Surabaya and North Bali, Indonesia. Moreover, it will have combined 12 night cruises for these destinations. Owned by Genting Hong Kong, this new cruise experience catering directly to the Asia-Pacific market is clearly making a huge splash.
Catch the Dream: