Cruising into a mind shift for your next holiday

Cruising into a mind shift for your next holiday

Royal Caribbean’s largest cruise ship in Asia, the Spectrum of the Seas has just about everything under the sun for an all-encompassing holiday

THERE are many types of vacationers. Some love idyllic retreats into the mountains or areas of remote nature where they can be by themselves to unwind, reflect and centre back into the self. Some prefer city excursions and a full immersion into the sights, smells, tastes, history and culture of a certain locale.

My idea of a perfect getaway is soaking up the sun on a white sandy beach with a book (or three) and being perfectly lazy, with no itinerary or compulsion for activity other than a bit of souvenir shopping and a jaunt off the beach for a recommended local meal outside the resort. It seems like a waste of a vacation, but I don’t get enough downtime and natural sunlight from my normal everyday life, so this is the kind of rest and relaxation I seek.

Up to this point, I had never considered going on a cruise. My impression of cruising has always been something for the senior set or the forlorn looking to escape or mend their broken hearts on the high seas. If everything follows the typical ending of an episode of 80s hit television show The Love Boat, one might even meet Husband No. 2 or 3, which may alone compel me to properly look into booking a cruise, but alas, we know that The Love Boat is hardly a model of reality, but Stranger Things (see what I did there?) have happened, so maybe – why not?

Last Friday (July 5), members of the media were invited on board Royal Caribbean’s largest and most innovative ship in Asia, the Spectrum of the Seas, when it docked in Port Klang enroute from Singapore to Penang. The first sighting of this magnificent ocean beast was visible while driving into the Boustead Cruise Centre parking lot and the sheer size of the ship filled me with an absolute jaw-dropping awe. This was a floating city! What wonders awaited?

The Spectrum of the Seas stands upright at 347 metres – that is 2.5 times taller than the Tianjin Eye. Also, at 347 metres long, it is five times longer than the Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, China. The ship is approximately 42 metres wide, so issues of claustrophobia, which is something I do suffer from, didn’t affect me at all. With 2,137 staterooms, this ship can accommodate up to 5,622 guests.

Now, for someone who prefers a less ‘peopley’ vacation, this may seem like a lot of people. But rest assured, there are plenty of spaces where you could go for a serene escape from the busier parts of the ship, which in general is the main and children’s pool, equipped with water slides and fun water activities for the whole family.

My favourite spot was the Solarium, which is an adult only space on the upper deck at the bow of the ship. Here you can find plenty of loungers, a whirlpool and a splash-free pool adults can enjoy whilst taking in unobstructed views from the front of the ship. This area definitely fulfils my need for peace and sunshine – and cocktails! Bar service also offers light meals you can enjoy right there from the comfort of your sun lounger with the ocean breeze in your hair.

There were plenty of families on board the Spectrum of the Seas when we toured the ship, and the attraction lies in the amenities for the entire family, differing age groups notwithstanding. For those with young children, there is the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery, with nannies available for those times you need some breathing space, day or night. Kids can enjoy themselves in the Arcade, the Splashaway Bay and for older kids and teens, there is The Living Room equipped with the latest video games and the Fuel Teen Disco.

For the active and adventurous, you can have as many goes on the Flowrider Surf Simulator or defy gravity in the Ripcord by Ifly to enjoy the sheer thrill and exhilaration of skydiving in a safe, controlled and simulated environment. The sensation of flying takes place inside a 23 foot tall glass flight chamber, while taking in stunning ocean views. For climbers, there is a challenging rock climbing wall to conquer. All activities are supervised by professional and friendly international crew, of which there are 1,551.

Below deck is an entire indoor sports complex, the SeaPlex. The large area comprises tennis, badminton and futsal courts that transform in the evening into a roller skating rink, a flying trapeze and a bumper car pitch for the young and young at heart. Above that open space overlooking the pitch are table tennis and archery galleries to name but a few of their standard activities.

Now, not all on board are seeking an adrenaline rush. In fact, with my latest mobility issue, I am tentative on my feet and constantly on alert for slippery and uneven flooring. The number of steps up and down the decks to access different parts of the ship are equipped with sturdy handrails and there is lift access to virtually everywhere, including the North Star located on the top deck towards the bow of the ship. This jewel-shaped glass capsule will gently elevate you more than 300 feet above sea level, so you can take in the most breathtaking 360-degree views imaginable.

And I imagine for someone like me who enjoys good food, drinks and entertainment, you will not be lacking in things to enjoy. Original shows by Royal Caribbean Productions, a Music Hall, The Royal Theatre and the Casino Royale are just to name a few. There are numerous complimentary dining options throughout the ship, along with specialty dining options for those wanting to celebrate special occasions.

We were treated to refreshments at The Cafe @Two70 when boarding the Spectrum of the Seas and later to a scrumptious lunch at the Chef’s Table with the vice president and managing director, Asia Pacific of Royal Caribbean International Ms Angie Stephen as host.

When asked what the appeal would be for someone to splurge on a sea cruise as opposed to a landed holiday, she replied, “Logistics! Everything fun you could want on vacation is right here on the ship, without the hassle of driving anywhere or organising restaurant bookings or tickets for shows and entrances into night clubs. Meals are prepaid so you don’t have to worry about extras – unless you want extras – and all activities are included, so you can enjoy it all. And because this ship has ports of call, you can opt for shore excursions and experience that particular locale.”

These are all valid points for cruising, except that for Malaysians, the destinations on the Spectrum of the Seas are Port Klang, Penang, and back to Singapore (unless you opt for the extra night and go on the 4 day cruise to Phuket). You would have to fly to Singapore to board the ship, only to go to, let’s face it, destinations you are probably already familiar with and can get to via your own car. And you would still need to get back to wherever you live in Malaysia after your lovely cruise, which can take the air out of any sail post-holiday.

I imagine that should my next vacation be a cruise on the impressive Spectrum of the Seas, I would likely adopt a mind shift and treat it as an all inclusive floating resort holiday. No doubt the experiences offered on board would keep me happy for three days, and the absolute best case scenario is I meet Rich Husband No.2 as per my heady expectation from any episode of The Love Boat.

source – The Vibes

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