Among those who use their passports, there is an ongoing endless dispute between who is a traveller and who is a tourist . I have accepted the moniker tourist. I do not stay in hostels or carry a backpack. Taking a cruise is undisputedly tourism.
There are no unknowns. Yes, you wake up every morning in a different place. Yes, if you choose to, you can be on your own for the day, or you can simply sign up for and pay dearly for a shore excursion. The shore excursions are the penultimate indulgence in tourism. A passenger gets off the boat and is herded into bus #x and whisked away to see whatever the local tourist authorities think you should see. We did this once.
Port Klang is in Malaysia. It is the docking area that serves Kuala Lumpur. There were maybe twenty busses lined up with a handful of itineraries. You have to choose and pay for the one you want a day before. We chose the KL shopping tour. The trip into KL from Klang was about 1 1/2 hours. Of course a guide was provided who talked endlessly about anything and everything.
Most of the time however was concentrated on visiting markets where you could buy all sorts of junk you do not need, to support the local economy. For instance, I did not need another beautiful batik shirt, but I bought one anyway. They really are nice and inexpensive. My wife bought a wonderful silk scarf. We were doing our bit.
The best thing about being on the arranged shore excursions is that you will get back to the ship before it leaves. If you go on your own excursion and do not make it back in time, you will be stuck in Klang, the ship waits for no tourist!.
Now back to the Mariner of the Seas. When it launched it was the largest cruiseliner afloat. It has since been superseded. I cannot imagine being on an even bigger boat. This vessel carries something like 3500 passengers and a huge crew.
Every day there is a different drink of the day. They are always a different color. What they have in common is a high percentage of alcohol. Oh sure, you can have a beer, or anything else, but why not be adventurous. I believe the top one is called Sparkling Strawberry on the bottom on is the Sparkling Peach Cooler. They make a nice welcome-back treat after your time ashore. Whatever drink you ordered was 3/4 booze and a bit of mixer. Why they wanted passengers to be tipsy is beyond me.
Midship, on deck 5, there is a very long mall which sells clothing, watches, jewelry, even chocolate. They advertise 30% or 40% discounts. Discounts from what I don’t know, everything was very expensive. Deck 3 has an art galley. They display works of art that will be auctioned off on the last day of the cruise. The gallery had half a dozen works by Peter Max. I love Peter Max. I was excited. You see half the passengers were Chinese and I could not see them getting excited by Peter Max, and maybe I could get a steal of a deal. Think again bozo. They started the bidding beyond my limit, by about 5x. So, no art to be bought. However we won a pretty good bottle of champagne and enjoyed it at dinner.
Meals were pretty good. The first night was excellent, but it sort of went downhill from there. By the end of the cruise they did not have anymore butter, and for the final breakfast, no orange juice. You think they would have that down to a science, but no. You eat dinner at an assigned table, with the same people every night. We had a good group, and we had excellent waiters. In fact the staff was truly good for the entire trip, everywhere on the ship, including the heavy hitter bartenders.
I thought it was funny to go from Klang to Penang. We got off in Penang and d6yyyyytgid our own excursion with a taxi driver who had his own idea of what we should see. But we saw some cool stuff including of course a few Buddhist temples.
Jump ahead to the last stop on our magical tourist tour and we got to Phuket in Thailand. We had been to Phuket before so we again went off on our own. The beach where the ship stopped was of course crowded. We grabbed a cab to Karon beach which we knew had thousands of less people, cold beer and inexpensive on-the-beach massages.
Yes the beers were cheap.
One thing to note. When we got onboard in Singapore, they took and kept our passports. I do not like that. In Malaysia and Thailand I felt uncomfortable because I did not go through immigration. After we left Thailand to go back to Singapore, we were able to retrieve our little blue books, where we discovered that Malaysian and Thai officials had come aboard and stamped 3500 hundred passports while we were in town buying t-shirts. I think that is very cool, no immigration lines!
Will I ever cruise again? There is something called a relocation cruise when the ship leaves high season somewhere for high season on the other side of the coconut. The prices for these long cruises are discounted, and you spend days at sea, reading books and enjoying the drink of the day, instead of places like Klang. That appeals to me, and maybe, just maybe….
So that is it for the cruise. It started and ended in Singapore, which is a wonderful city. My next post will give you a look at it!
Until then, please share this post, and make a comment!