Far East & Indonesia Discovery Cruise

 

We left Vernon for Kelowna at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 14, 2017 with our neighbours, Mark and Eva who drove us to Kelowna for our flight to Hong Kong via Vancouver to begin our 28 Day Far East & Indonesian Discovery Tour Cruise scheduled to begin on Tuesday.  Vernon was -16 C [3 F] with clear and sunny skies.  Vancouver was -3 C [27 F] with sunshine when we checked into our Richmond Hotel.  Richard did the online check in for Sunday’s flight to Hong Kong.  Later after dinner and drinks we had a relaxing evening.

 

This Far East & Indonesian Discovery Tour Cruise would be or first visit to this part of the world.

 

For the entire 28 day cruise we were lucky if we had two (2) days of sunshine in total!  Most every day was cloudy but still very warm, ranging from 26 - 30 C [79 -86 F] daily and of course very humid.  Rain fell mostly at night so was of no major concern for any of our outings.  First time ever we've experienced a "sun-less" ... is there such a word?  holiday at this time of year.  Not once was Richard able to sun tan while cruising on sea days.  The short times we spent in Hong Kong upon arrival and prior to departure realized cooler daily highs of 22 C [72 F] in sunshine and no humidity.

 

The Web Sites I have provided are here to provide more background for you … enjoy!

 

Sunday, January 15

 

We departed our Richmond Hotel by shuttle for the airport at 9:15 a.m. to meet our 12.10 p.m. departure flight to Hong Kong.  Our departing flight was delayed some 2 hours so we arrived in Hong Kong at 7:15 p.m. Monday evening.  Our lengthy flight provided us with 2 hot meals plus a sandwich and light crackers and Richard’s Molson Canadian beer was free!  Outside the Hong Kong terminal 1 hour after arrival, Passport Control and baggage retrieval it was a pleasant 18 C [65 F]  … far better than what we left home with.  It was a 1 hour taxi ride to our Holiday Inn Hotel and by 9:30 p.m. we were in bed following check in.

 

Monday, January 17

 

Enjoyed the free breakfast provided as part of our room cost then proceeded to the cruise ship terminal and check in for our cruise.  Process was very fast, some 10 minutes or so, followed by a half hour wait to board the ship.  On the ship more waiting as staterooms were not ready for us.  Once in our stateroom by 2:30 p.m. we had unpacked and all was in order.  Our first dinner allowed us to meet our 4 other table mates, all Canadians.  One couple was from Vancouver [False Creek area] and the other two from Lake Cowichan on Vancouver Island.  The mandatory Passenger Safety Emergency Drill was held at 7:15 p.m. – first for us in the evening.  At 8:30 p.m. mandatory Immigration clearance from Hong Kong had us attend in the Explorer’s Lounge and our Passports were retained by the ship.

 

Wednesday, January 18

 

We awoke to overcast skies and our first sea day.  Dress code is Formal tonight, our first for this cruise.  Completed paperwork with respect to Visas we would need during our cruise.  So convenient to have most of the information pre-done by the Front Office on our behalf.  Richard’s morning walk on the Promenade Deck was a bit late on this first day of the cruise.  On stage in the Frans Hals Lounge tonight was comedian, Martin Beaumont.  Clocks were set back 1 hour tonight.

 

Our ship, the Volendam, 781 feet in length, carries 1,432 passengers plus a crew of 615 and has a maximum speed of 23 knots.  She has ten decks, served by 12 elevators.  Onboard facilities include 2 pools and hot tubs, 4 bars, casino, gymnasium, medical centre, photo gallery and retail stores.  Entertainment is offered nightly in the Frans Hals Lounge and the Wajang Theatre offers daily movies.  Onboard dining is in the Rotterdam Dining Room, while buffet meals are proved in the Lido Restaurant.  The Pinnacle Grill offers an elegant, sophisticated dining experience featuring premium Sterling Silver beef, inspired seafood dishes and many select wines.

 

As was our custom on previous cruises, Richard spent time on the outer decks doing his daily walk on the Promenade Deck.  The afternoons he spent time reading outdoors.  Anita chose to read in the Library and even though she had her crafts with her she did none on this cruise, choosing to read instead.

 

Thursday, January 19

 

At anchor off Halong Bay, Vietnam.  Ordered Room Service for breakfast as Richard has an 8 a.m. shore excursion … Halong Bay Cruise & Thien Cung Cave which was excellent.  There were lots of steps both up and down in the caves but the views were just not every day sights.  That afternoon Richard’s request of the Front Office for the passenger count by nationality was denied for the first time ever.  Reason given was they required security approval to release said information, so it may still come.  At Happy Hour today for the first time Richard was served Molson Canadian beer.  If available today why were his prior requests for same denied???  At dinner tonight we were the only two at our table.  The ship’s singers and dancers first performance of Atlantic Crossing was a good one.

 

Mornings we have available to us the Times Digest, eight pages of headline news from the pages of The New York Times and The Canadian, headline news more meaningful to us.  For guests from the UK and Australia other publications were also available.  Richard arranged to have The Canadian delivered to the stateroom daily.

Our routine, as on past cruises, sees us attend in the Ocean Bar for pre-dinner drinks during Happy Hour at 4 p.m. where one buys one drink at regular price and receives a second for two dollars [was only one dollar on our last cruise!].  Servers in the Ocean Bar treat regulars like us with just superb service for the most part.  Once they know your drink preference you never have to tell them a second time unless you want to change.

Web Sites of Interest 

Halong Bay                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%E1%BA%A1_Long_Bay

 

Friday, January 20

Another day at sea and cloudy, overcast skies.  We attended the Mariner’s Luncheon at noon.  Richard made a second request to the Front Office for the passenger count and was provided a copy.  Security clearance for him must have passed to allow for this.  Concert pianist Tomondo Kawamura performed on stage this evening.

 

Hereunder is the Guest Nation Breakdown after leaving Hong Kong.

 

 

 

 

Nationality

Total Count

 

 

Austria

14

Australia

55

Belgium

14

Brazil

1

Bahamas

2

Canada

218

Switzerland

27

Chile

20

China

5

Germany

52

Denmark

4

Spain

13

Fiji

1

France

10

United Kingdom

283

Hong Kong

8

Hungary

2

Indonesia

5

Ireland

4

Isreal

3

India

2

Italy

15

Japan

9

Korea, Republic Of

7

Lithuania

1

Luxembourg

1

Morocco

1

Myanmar

1

Mexico

1

Malaysia

3

Netherlands

81

New Zealand

26

Philippines

7

Portugal

2

Romania

3

Russian Federation

5

Sweden

2

Singapore

1

Slovenia

3

Thailand

1

United States

489

South Africa

3

 

 

Total

1,405

 

For the first time ever on any of our cruises, Canada is number 3 … previously number 2 after the United States.  United Kingdom is number 2 here.

 

Saturday, January 21

 

In port at Da Nang, Vietnam.  Cloudy skies that gave way to afternoon rain showers.  Richard went on shore, took the shuttle bus into Da Nang then secured a taxi for 2 hours to take him around.  First stop was a marble place where statues, mainly religious, were constructed on-site.  The many shops of Hoi Ma were found on the narrow streets we traversed.  This also was the first exposure to the many motor bikes and scooters on the roads … they were everywhere, possibly even out numbering the cars!  This evening on stage, magician Andrew Lee gave a so-so performance.

 

Web Sites of Interest 

Da Nang, Vietnam                   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danang

 

Sunday, January 22

 

A day at sea and one of relaxation sampling some of the numerous seminars given daily on board.  The sun did break through for short periods today.  Steve Stevens provided stand up comedy & music live on stage this evening.

 

Monday, January 23

 

In port at Nha Trang, Vietnam for a shortened period with all aboard at 3:30 p.m.  Richard took the Nha Trang Highlights tour for 4 hours offered by the ship.  Visited Po Nagar Cham Towers, enjoyed the views crossing the Xom Bong bridge and visited the Long Son Pagoda.  Enjoyed the evening show “Variations”, beautiful music and dance performed by the ship’s singers and dancers.

 

Web Sites of Interest 

Nha Trang, Vietnam                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nha_Trang

 

Po Nagar Cham Towers         

 

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/vietnam/nha-trang/attractions/po-nagar-cham-towers/a/poi-sig/1390406/357943

 

Long Son Pagoda        http://www.vietnam-guide.com/nha-trang/attractions/long-son-pagoda.htm

 

Tuesday, January 24

 

In port at Phu My, Vietnam and our last visit to this country.  This is the port for Ho Chi Minh City, which is an hour and a half away.  No tours booked as many of those offered were 8.5 hours in duration or longer.  Did not like the live on stage presentation so chose to watch TV in our stateroom after dinner.

 

Web Sites of Interest 

Phu My, Vietnam         http://cruiseportwiki.com/PhuMy

Wednesday, January 25

 

A day at sea.  Dress code is Formal tonight.  Enjoyed incredible music from the Hammer Dulcimer presented by Pingxin Xu on stage this evening.

 

Thursday, January 26

 

In port at Sihanoukville, Cambodia.  Shore excursions offerings here were few in number and very expensive so nothing was booked.  We engaged a taxi and toured for some 3 hours.  City is very tourist oriented and has a vast number of casinos all owned by the Chinese.  During the drive Richard did sample a local beer.  On stage this evening enjoyed once more the ship’s singers and dancers in “Classique”.

 

Web Sites of Interest 

 

Sihanoukville, Cambodia          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sihanoukville_(city)

 

Friday, January 27

 

In port at Laem Chabang, Thailand for 2 days.  Bangkok is some 2.5 hours away, minimum, so will not visit and instead do tours outside of the city.  Some guests chose to journey to Bangkok for an overnight visit.  Today Richard booked the tour, A Day in the Thai Countryside and for a change enjoyed clear skies and sunshine.  Highlights included visiting various temples in and around Pattaya City and lunch at the Silver Lake Winery.  Tonight we watched the movie, “Sully” in the Wajang Theatre.

 

Web Sites of Interest 

 

Laem Chabang, Thailand         https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laem_Chabang

 

Pattaya, Thailand                     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pattaya

 

Silver Lake Winery                 

 

http://www.pattayaconcierge.com/specified-place/silverlake-winery-pattaya/201100000005/attraction/

 

Saturday, January 28

 

Day 2 in port at Laem Chabang, Thailand.  We booked the shore excursion, The Sanctuary of Truth and due to the early departure time ordered Room Service for breakfast.  Back once more to Pattaya City to find our location.  The Sanctuary of Truth is a completely wooden structure – impressive and good for many photos.  Later we drove to a viewpoint higher up from the City where there also was a smaller temple.  Good views.  After dinner we watched the movie, “The Queen of Katwe”, a true story, in the Wajang Theatre.

 

Web Sites of Interest 

 

The Sanctuary of Truth           https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanctuary_of_Truth

 

                                                http://www.sanctuaryoftruth.com/

Patayya Viewpoint      http://www.bangkok.com/pattaya/attractions/khao-pattaya-view-point.htm

 

Sunday, January 29

 

At anchor in Nathon, Koh Samui, Thailand.  Dress code is Formal tonight.  Richard rode the tender in to see the dock area and found it to be quite dirty and little to see, mostly small water craft and ships. 

 

Web Sites of Interest 

 

Nathon, Koh Samui, Thailand              http://www.kosamui.com/nathon.htm

 

Monday, January 30

 

A sea day before arriving in Singapore for the first of two visits.  As mentioned previously, we enjoy Happy Hour daily from 4 – 5 p.m. in the Ocean Bar taking advantage of the reduced prices.  We always arrive early BUT not always are we served promptly.  Today we waited until 4:15 p.m. before being served [drink orders taken right at 4 p.m.] and 4:25 p.m. for the table next to us.  At a third table 3 couples sat and left having not been served.  Richard complained on this poor service and his words were supported by guests at the table next to us.  At tonight’s dinner, many hugs from those leaving this cruise in the morning.  “Frozen Planet Live” from the BBC television series, Frozen Planet was shown on stage this evening.

 

Tuesday, January 31

 

In port at Singapore.  Turn around day with some 1,000 guests disembarking and new ones joining our cruise.  We chose to stay on board the ship knowing we would be back at the conclusion of our cruise and spending time in Singapore at that time.  The mandatory Passenger Emergency Drill was held at 3:15 p.m. this afternoon.  Our table mates from Vancouver Island had left and a couple from Seattle, WA joined our table this evening. 

 

Cruise Log:   Tuesday, January 17, 2017

                        Depart Hong Kong, 10:56 p.m.

                        Tuesday, January 31, 2017

                        Arrive Singapore, 7:00 a.m.

 

Ports

Mileage

Average

Speed

 

 

 

Hong Kong – Halong Bay

483 nm

15.0 kn

Halong Bay – Da Nang

302 nm

  9.7 kn

Da Nang – Nha Trang

312 nm

  8.7 kn

Nha Trang – Phu My

224 nm

16.1 kn

Phu My - Sihanoukville

408 nm

13.5 kn

Sihanoukville – Lasem Chabang

249 nm

16.4 kn

Laem Chabang - Nathon

230 nm

15.7 kn

Nathon - Singapore

655 nm

17.5 kn

 

 

 

Total Distance

2,863 nm

 

 

Wednesday, February 1

 

A day at sea and Dress Code is Formal tonight.  Richard requested and had no difficulty receiving the passenger count by nationality numbers from the Front Office for this segment of the cruise.  At noon we experience some rain showers.  Watched the movie “Central Intelligence” in the Wajang Theatre after dinner.  Clocks were set back 1 hour tonight.

 

Hereunder is the Guest Nation Breakdown after leaving Singapore.

 

Nationality

Total Count

 

 

Argentina

2

Austria

1

Australia

36

Belgium

10

Brazil

1

Canada

226

Switzerland

9

China

3

Germany

44

Denmark

3

Spain

6

Fiji

1

France

4

United Kingdom

233

Hong Kong

2

Indonesia

6

Ireland

3

India

1

Italy

2

Japan

8

Sri Lanka

2

Lithuania

1

Luxembourg

1

Myanmar

1

Malta

1

Mexico

2

Malaysia

5

Netherlands

210

New Zealand

10

Philippines

6

Poland

5

Portugal

5

Romania

2

Russian Federation

2

Sweden

32

Singapore

3

Syrian Arab Republic

1

Turkey

2

Taiwan, Province

3

United States

460

Vietnam

1

South Africa

3

 

 

Total

1,359

 

 

Thursday, February 2

 

In port at Tanjung Priok, Indonesia outside Jakarkta.  Requested Room Service for breakfast so Richard could make his morning tour, “Jakarta Highlights” on time.  Other than the National Monument the outing was nothing to write home about except to say heavy traffic makes for slow going in these countries.  There was no rain on tour but at 4 p.m. heavy showers as our tour bus made its way back to the ship.  In the Ocean Bar we encountered still more lack of service once again, not being served until 4:20 p.m. today while guests arriving after us were served first once again.  Richard again spoke about this poor service and this time an individual {beverage supervisor?] agreed to meet with Richard at 9 a.m. Friday morning to discuss the matter.  This evening, on stage, a great performance by Katei with his unique Rock Violin.

 

Web Sites of Interest 

 

Jakarta                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jakarta

 

National Monument Monas      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Monument_(Indonesia)

 

Friday, February 3

 

In port at Semarang, Indonesia.  Today’s tour, “Semarang Sights” ended up to be a complete bust!  Prior to embarking on the tour Richard attended for his morning meeting with the beverage manager and later learned he was the assistant, not the head guy and he was a “no show” after Richard had waited some 20 minutes for him.  Tour was scheduled to start at 10 a.m. and last 5.5 hours – it was 4:50 p.m. when Richard got back to the ship.  At the second stop on tour our bus was loaded and ready to leave but didn’t move for some 20 minutes – we apparently waited for the one ahead of us to load and leave first.  At our final stop 4 buses arrived at the same time for tour a factory producing traditional Javanese herbal medicine.  Visualize some 160 people on tour with just 1 guide whose command of the English language was not all that good!  We could take no pictures and the so called tour became just a long 1 hour walk.  We should have returned to the ship by 3:30 p.m. but it was 3:35 p.m. when we left the factory and 4:50 p.m. by the time we got back to the ship.  By this time we were driving in a heavy rain.  Our coach driver took pity on us and drove us right up to the gangway making sure we had less chance of being soaked walking in the heavy rain.  After dinner Richard asked for and had his meeting with the beverage manager who agreed with him that the complaints put forth were valid.  We’ll wait and see if our Ocean Bar experience improves or not.  Richard, along with numerous other on his tour, also complained to the Shore Excursions office about today’s tour, requesting a refund.  Staff advised they will be reporting back in the coming days.

 

 

 

 

Web Sites of Interest 

 

Semarang        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semarang

 

Sam Poo Kong Chinese Temple          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Poo_Kong

 

Jamu Nyonya Meneer Factory           

 

http://jakartaglobe.id/archive/semarang-indonesias-city-of-jamu/

 

Saturday, February 4

 

In port at Surabaya, Indonesia with an 11 a.m. arrival time.  We did not leave the ship once in port as it appeared that only shopping awaited us.  Watched the movie “The Light Between Oceans” in the Wajang Theatre after dinner.  Clocks were set ahead 1 hour tonight.

 

Sunday, February 5

 

A day at sea.  Dress code is Formal tonight.  A response to my shore excursion complaint was received today and reads in part …Please accept our sincerest apologies for the confusion caused during your visit to the herbal factory on your tour in Semarang.  We have investigated further with our tour operator and have shared all the valuable comments which have been brought to our attention with our corporate office in Seattle.  We have asked for the tour description to be reviewed once more and possibly revised.

As a gesture of good faith and for inconvenience caused a 20 % refund has been applied to your onboard account.

While much less than what Richard had requested, at least his complaint was merited. 

Juggler Tempei was the on stage entertainer this evening.

 

Monday, February 6

 

At anchor off Komodo Island, Indonesia and Richard has a scheduled shore excursion to hopefully see some Komodo Dragons in person and photograph same.  During one siting of these lizards grouped together one approached the group from far off and started an “argument” with one in the group … a bit of excitement when tempers flared.  Good photo opportunities … just hope they turn out!  Since having met with the beverage manager regarding service levels in the Ocean Bar we’ve noticed a big improvement on this issue.  Watched the movie, “Bridget Jones’s Baby” in the Wajang Theatre after dinner.

 

Web Sites of Interest 

 

Komodo Dragons        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Komodo_dragon

 

Tuesday, February 7

 

At anchor off Lembar Lombark, Indonesia and we had no tours booked here.  Richard took the longer than usual tender ride on shore but saw nothing of interest and returned to the ship on the same tender.  With repeat guests appearing on stage we again chose to watch a movie this evening – “Jack Reacher Never Go Back”.

 

 

 

Web Sites of Interest 

 

Lembar Lombark                     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lombok

 

Wednesday, February 8

 

In port at Bali, Indonesia for an overnight stay.  We walked off the ship at 9 a.m. and hired a car and driver for some 5 – 6 hours.  We saw plenty on our drive … visited a batik and weaving establishment; stopped at a coffee place for tastings; walked through the monkey forest, a nature reserve and Hindu temple complex [excellent and great photos!]; drove by numerous terraced rice files; and drove past many high end hotels before visiting the beach before returning to the ship.  For a change the day was mostly sunny.  Watched the movie “In God’s Hands” after dinner this evening.                     

 

Web Sites of Interest 

 

Bali                                          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bali

 

Monkey Forest                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubud_Monkey_Forest

 

Thursday, February 9

 

Our second day in Bali, Indonesia and no tours scheduled for us today.  The original plan had the ship moving out to tender services at 9 a.m. but just prior to this came notice of an itinerary change from the Captain.  He advised that due to unfavourable weather conditions we cannot guarantee a safe tender operation for our port call at Proboliggo, Java tomorrow.  Instead the ship will remain in port at Bali until 9 p.m. tonight when it will depart for Singapore, our final port of call.  On stage tonight from London, Stevie B a rock & roll singer.

 

Friday, February 10

 

A day at sea and we continue to enjoy calm seas on this cruise.  There were rain showers off and on during the day.  After dinner a great live performance with Aiden & Evelyn, a world class harmonica duo.

 

Saturday, February 11

 

Our second sea day and more cloudy skies.  Dress Code is Formal tonight and the last one of this cruise.  The movie “Snowden” was our entertainment choice this evening.

 

Sunday, February 12

 

Day 3 at sea with expected early evening arrival in Singapore.  We retrieved our Passports today from the Front Office and also received a Disembarkation Package.  We watched TV in our stateroom before retiring.

 

Monday, February 13

 

With the ship in port at Singapore there was evidence of overnight rain upon waking.  Packing up was done after breakfast in preparation of leaving the ship Tuesday morning.  After dinner we spent time listening to Adagio, the violin and piano duo prior to watching TV in our stateroom before bedtime.

 

Cruise Log:   Tuesday, January 31, 2017

                        Depart Singapore, 4:32 p.m.

                        Sunday, February 12, 2017

                        Arrive Singapore, 7:20 p.m.

 

Ports

Mileage

Average

Speed

 

 

 

Singapore – Tanjung Priok

581 nm

15.3 kn

Tanjung Priok – Semarang

255 nm

17.0 kn

Semarang – Surabaya

201 nm

14.5 kn

Surabaya – Slawi Bay

484 nm

14.7kn

Slawi Bay – Lembar, Lombok

273 nm

16.2 kn

Lembar, Lombok – Benoa, Bali

61 nm

6.8 kn

Benoa, Bali - Singapore

1,020 nm

16.0 kn

 

 

 

Total Distance

2,875 nm

 

 

1 Nautical Mile   1.155 Statute miles   1.85 Kilometer                   

 

Tuesday, February 14

 

At 9 a.m. we walked off the ship for the last time and a taxi took us to our Singapore Holiday Inn Hotel where we had only a 1 hour wait before our room was ready and we could check in.  Following lunch at the Hotel we took a Singapore River Cruise at Clarke Quay.  Most enjoyable – Singapore architecture so very different from that in North America.  Our Hotel was very nice!  The Bar has “Happy Hour” from 4 – 8 p.m. daily offering selected drinks 2 for the price of 1 – much better than Holland America offered on board their ships.

 

Wednesday, February 15

 

It must have rained hard overnight as at breakfast the streets were wet and there were numerous puddles of water.  The day was cloudy, warm … 32 C [90 F] and very humid.  Our City Tour, booked at the Hotel lasted just shy of 4 hours and was enjoyable visiting first Little India followed by a drive to the mouth of the Singapore River for photos of the city’s skyline; a visit to Chinatown followed by a stop at the National Orchid Garden within the grounds of the Singapore Botanic Gardens.  During the tour we did drive by the famous Raffles Hotel.  Conversation with the coach driver between venues provided good insight on Singapore, the city and its people.  Back at the Hotel, Richard attempted but could not complete the online check in for our Jetstar Asia flight on Thursday for some unknown reason.

 

Web Sites of Interest 

 

Little India        http://www.yoursingapore.com/see-do-singapore/places-to-see/little-india.html

 

Chinatown       http://www.yoursingapore.com/see-do-singapore/places-to-see/chinatown.html

 

Raffles Singapore      

 

http://www.yoursingapore.com/see-do-singapore/architecture/historical/raffles-hotel.html

 

National Orchid Garden

 

https://www.sbg.org.sg/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&layout=item&id=34&Itemid=58

 

Thursday, February 16

 

Getting to the Singapore Airport by 7:30 a.m. for our flight to Hong Kong meant getting up earlier than usual.  Our flight to Hong Kong was without incident other than departing late by some 35 minutes.  Day time views as we arrived in Hong Kong were spectacular as one could see all the residential areas, numerous high rises and ongoing construction projects.  Hong Kong was sunny, 22 C [72 F] and no humidity!  The wheel chair assistance requested for Anita upon arrival was a huge plus as the attendant “knew the ropes” in this huge airport [it was the same also at the Singapore airport] and showed us the way through the trains to Immigration, baggage retrieval and finally to the taxis.  Dinner this evening was somewhat early followed by watching some TV in our room before bedtime.

 

Friday, February 17

 

Our flight home was scheduled to depart at 7:30 p.m. tonight.  Enjoyed the free breakfast included with our room cost prior to our Hotel check out around 10 a.m. and the 1 hour taxi ride to the airport.  Decided to spend time at the airport rather than sit in our hotel room until the mandatory noon hour check out time.  At the airport we had to wait for the Air Canada agents to come on duty at 1:30 p.m. so sat and “people watched” until then.  What a busy airport and variety of people passing by.  We were amazed at how much luggage some had and their sizes!  Temperature outside the terminal was some 22 C [72F] and pleasant indoors BUT many folks were wearing heavy winter coats inside.  We did our check in just prior to 2 p.m. then passed through Immigration and Security only to await the assigning of our Departure gate.  More “people watching” as well as finding something to eat.  Once at our Departure gate more waiting as our flight was some 50 minutes late departing.  At our assigned seats Richard first thought he’s have an “airplane ride from Hell” as a single mom and her young daughter, not yet talking but walking, both sat in the seat next to him.  The child was loud, would not be quiet and could not sit still on mom’s lap.  The mom did complain about her assigned seating as she said it was not what her husband had arranged and paid for.  Airline staff did find alternate seating for them … whew!  So Anita & Richard had an extra vacant seat in their row through to Vancouver.  Instead of the wheelchair for Anita in Vancouver we rode a “golf cart” which turned out to be better and passed through Immigration, baggage claim, Security and through to our connecting departure flight to Kelowna by this means.  Our final flight to Kelowna was on time and for the first time ever at the Kelowna airport both our checked bags came off the turnstile together!  Kelowna was about 0 C [32 F] at 8:35 p.m. and our neighbours, Mark & Eva, drove us home to Vernon.  By about 10 p.m. both of us were in bed as our Friday had, of course, been a long long day what with the time change from Hong Kong to Vernon.

 

Conclusions

 

We were extremely pleased with our ship, the ms Volendam and all that was available to us during our 28 day cruise.  While we found some short comings with service in the dining room compared to previous cruises, this, by no means caused the two of us any major concerns.  Food on board was excellent!  Other than some poor service we encountered in the Ocean Bar, the crew on board were polite and most accommodating to our needs.

We do enjoy the benefits afforded us cruising as 4 star mariners on Holland America ships.

We do find the shore excursion offerings onboard to be very expensive and were not pleased that a number of the ports we visited were situated long distances from the major cities and attractions.

Both Hong Kong and Singapore are huge cities and very expensive!  While Hong Kong is a much older city both are attractive and we especially like Singapore for its cleanliness and distinctly unique architecture.

First time ever we've experienced a "sun-less" ... is there such a word? holiday at this time of year.  Not once was Richard able to sun tan while cruising on sea days.  Our days for the most part were dry, warm and very humid.

Visiting the Far East & Indonesia, the people and their cultures for the first time makes us thankful to be living in Canada as we do.  People there live a most frugal life and do with so little … many of the things we take for granted they just don’t have.