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Live from the Quest - Singapore to Hong kong


Jayayeff

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Thanks Anne! Just as others have noted, I'm really enjoying reading about your daily experience on the Quest. We're booked on the Quest in March and really looking forward to the adventure.

 

I'm really interested to hear how well the internet connectivity is working for you and the prices charged for internet access. My experience on other ships is that the internet access is somewhat slow. (I dislike spending precious time on board waiting for e-mail to load.) Any feedback you have in this area is really appreciated.

 

Hope you're having a relaxing sea day today and can't wait to hear about Ho Chi Minh!

 

Cheers! -Greg

 

I'm using the ship's wifi from my own laptop in my cabin. So far the connection has been fine - it was easy to set up and has been quick to log on to any site I've needed to access. Packages are available for 75, 125, 185 and 265 minutes and cost $40, 60, 80 or 100 respectively. The non package rate if $0.65 per minute.

 

Anne

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Anne, I'm glad to hear that the chair police are out in force! There was a terrible problem with that on Journey and, rather than enforce their removal rule stated in the Pursuits, they simply changed the Pursuits to ask people not to reserve chairs - no enforcement at all.:mad:

 

Just before we left for our cruise we invested in an ultralight laptop at a killer price. We found the internet access to be much better on the Wifi system than in the Internet Cafe.

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[quote=critterchick;17832079

 

Just before we left for our cruise we invested in an ultralight laptop at a killer price. We found the internet access to be much better on the Wifi system than in the Internet Cafe.

 

critterchick:

Did you buy one of those netbooks? Would you share what brand laptop you got, where you bought it, and the price? I'm looking for one to take while travelling.

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Anne,

 

Thanks so much for your wonderful posts. The entertainment at night seems 100% better than we had on the Nautica last year. We too sailed up the river to Ho Chi Minh city and we were docked very close to everything. A short taxi ride and you are right in the heart of the city. I do know that it was walkable as a lot of the passengers used their feet.

 

Enjoy tomorrow, we loved Vientnam and would like to return one day.

 

Jennie

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I had a quick look at the boards earlier and noticed several questions/comments regarding enrichment lectures, daily activities, entertainment etc.

 

Hi Anne,

If Jonathan Fleming is still on-board and doing enrichment lectures for the ports that you'll be visiting, I highly recommend going to them ... he was a highlight on our cruise with his very interesting and informative talks/slide shows.

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I'm using the ship's wifi from my own laptop in my cabin. So far the connection has been fine - it was easy to set up and has been quick to log on to any site I've needed to access. Packages are available for 75, 125, 185 and 265 minutes and cost $40, 60, 80 or 100 respectively. The non package rate if $0.65 per minute.

 

Anne

 

Those prices are very reasonable especially if the internet is quite quick. I know I spent a fortune on the Nautica - it was expensive anyhow - as it was so slow. I think I only logged on three times and sent three emails, which had already been typed up, before I had used my 180 minutes!! I then started to use my Oceania address which was a lot cheaper way to go.

 

Jennie

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critterchick:

Did you buy one of those netbooks? Would you share what brand laptop you got, where you bought it, and the price? I'm looking for one to take while travelling.

 

It's an Acer Aspire with Windows XP, 120g hard drive, 1g memory (I think:o). Has a webcam, and lots of bells & whistles, but no DVD drive. Even with the battery and charger gizmo I think it weighs about 3-4lbs. We have a home network, so we can install softwar and exchange files that way, but I suppose if you have another computer you could just use a USB port or something. DH is the computer guru in the house, if you couldn't tell.

 

We paid $399 plus tax, there was a free shipping deal at the time. There's one with less memory and a shorter battery life (1g and 3 hours instead of 5-60) that I've seen for for $299. was $349 when we got ours, and we figured that the battery and extra memory were worth $50. We got it a JR.com, but I've seen it advertised at other retailers, too.

 

For us, it's perfect (if you need a DVD player, obviously it won't be). We've taken our Toshiba with us, and it's been a road warrior, but I'm getting back to being all about travelling light, so shedding 7 lbs was great.

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January 24th - Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

 

We are back to sailing against the N.E. Monsoon winds and tides so prior to arriving at the pilot pick-up point at the mouth of the Saigon River early this morning the ship was moving about quite a bit again last night. The sail up the river (the Saigon slalom) was very calm and although the Captain had told us they need to tilt the ship to get it around some of the bends I never felt anything unusual. The weather for our day in Saigon was overcast, quite hot and very humid however, it was a day enjoyed by everyone I saw during the day or spoke to afterwards. We were all sorry to have had only a few hours to see as much as we could and felt it was a port that certainly warrants an overnight stay. The city was crowded but in very festive mood being the eve of the New Year celebrations. I took the shuttle which dropped us at the Rex Hotel and armed with a tourist map walked to all the sights I wanted to see. Part of the city centre had been closed off to traffic, forming a huge pedestrian area decorated with plants, flowers, tablaux and other signs of the New Year and was filled with families and tourists all taking photographs of anything and everything. It was interesting to see many of the motorcycles and pedicabs negotiating the streets loaded with potted sunflowers and huge bunches of yellow crysanthamums. Prior to returning to the ship I joined a couple at a restaurant beside the Rex Hotel for a fabulous lunch of Vietnamese dishes washed down with cold beers. Sadly we all had to be back onboard by 3.45 so no time in the afternoon for any more exploring just a couple of bits of shopping. I’m now looking forward to Hoi An in a couple of days as friends have told me that is even ‘nicer’ than Saigon (and everyone does still call it Saigon not Ho Chin Minh City). The sail up (or down) the Saigon River takes three and a half to four hours and already (with over an hour still to go) I can hear the wind outside again so I guess we will be in for another bumpy night when we get back out to sea!!

 

Tomorrow is another day at sea, our next port being Danang, but as it will still be a holiday due to the New Year, we have been told that most things in Danang will be closed as it is a more of a commercial area than a tourist one. There are tours available to Hue or an ‘on your own’ bus to Hoi An, where sights, shops, etc. should be open as it is a resort area, and as I mentioned earlier I will be going to Hoi An.

 

Finally for the person who asked if Jonathan Fleming is still onboard, yes he is and I agree he is a fabulous destination lecturer. His talks are very informative but also very practical guides to the various ports of call and not just ‘heavy’ on facts and historical data, etc…

 

Vietnam – Part 2 in a couple of days…..

 

Anne

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Anne,

 

Thanks so much for your wonderful posts. The entertainment at night seems 100% better than we had on the Nautica last year. We too sailed up the river to Ho Chi Minh city and we were docked very close to everything. A short taxi ride and you are right in the heart of the city. I do know that it was walkable as a lot of the passengers used their feet.

 

Enjoy tomorrow, we loved Vientnam and would like to return one day.

 

Jennie

 

We weren't quite in the middle of everything. They have now got half of the bridge deck in place for the new suspension bridge and the Quest is not allowed to sail beyond that point anymore so we were docked at the Lotus Port just beside the new bridge. The Seabourn Spirit was also in port today and I noticed it was docked further up river as we drove into the city centre.

 

I did enjoy the day, and likewise I would like to return one day too...

 

Anne

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I’m now looking forward to Hoi An in a couple of days as friends have told me that is even ‘nicer’ than Saigon (and everyone does still call it Saigon not Ho Chin Minh City).

Anne

 

Hoi An is very easy on your own - it is like stepping back in time. I am sure you will love it.

 

I loved our overnight stop in Saigon a few years back, so it is a shame you only had such a short time there; and that the bridge construction prevents ships from sailing right into the center of HCM/Saigon

 

Vietnam was a very pleasant surprise for us and is somewhere we would love to return to....

 

Happy cruising Anne, and thanks again for your informative posts.

Linda:)

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Hi Anne,

 

I haven't posted on this board yet - but I wanted to thank you for taking the time to post updates. I'm booked on my first Azamara cruise with three friends this September. I can't wait - but your review has given me great feedback.

 

Thanks agian for the time!

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Anne, just rememberd this, not sure if the info is too late for you!

 

Light Candle Restaurant in Hoi An.

The restuarant itself is a family run place, opposite Than Xuan (Long Life) and Thien Thanh hotels on Ba Trieu St - a short walk from the old quarter in Ba Trieu.

 

The food is delicious and the atmosphere relaxed. The prices are very reasonable worked out to just a couple of USD for mains.

 

Try the fish in banana leaf, very good! The do spring roll etc also

Linda

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January 25th & 26th – At Sea & Da Nang

 

There is little I can say about the day at sea other than from the time we left the Saigon River we again had to battle against the N.E. Monsoon winds and high seas. I didn’t meet anyone yesterday who got much sleep as the ship rose and fell or crashed into the walls of water sending a shudder through the entire length of the vessel. The same conditions continued throughout yesterday and any activity that involved movement (other than by the ship) had to be cancelled. The swimming pool and hot tubs were also emptied. We have new entertainers onboard but the one scheduled to appear last night had to have his performance postponed until later in the cruise. He is a violinist by the name of Vicenzo Gentile.

 

After our rocky ride from Saigon, we arrived in Da Nang early this morning and I think most of us were very grateful to be able to get off the ship and spend the day on dry land. I took the ‘on your own’ tour into Hoi An, which is a delightful town to spend a day. Even though today is Chinese New Year the majority of shops, restaurants, cafes, etc. were open and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the narrow streets, browsing in the shops, seeing the sights, etc. The traffic on the main road from Da Nang was much lighter than is usual so on the way back we had time for a stop at China Beach for a short stroll and to take photographs. The people in Vietnam are delightful and even though it is a holiday for them they were all very welcoming and friendly.

 

We are now back out to sea on our way to Halong Bay and yet again the wind is whistling outside and the seas are rocky. As we continue to sail in the same direction I guess it will remain this way until we reach Halong Bay in another 14 hours or so (another sleepless night!!)…

 

Tonight there is a special Chinese New Year Buffet in Windows Breeza and the new male vocalist who joined the ship in Saigon is due to perform in the Cabaret….

 

Tomorrow we overnight in Halong Bay which is the last of our port calls in Vietnam, allowing those who want to visit Hanoi to either do an overnight tour or a full day tour on the second day.

 

Anne

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Anne, just rememberd this, not sure if the info is too late for you!

 

Light Candle Restaurant in Hoi An.

The restuarant itself is a family run place, opposite Than Xuan (Long Life) and Thien Thanh hotels on Ba Trieu St - a short walk from the old quarter in Ba Trieu.

 

The food is delicious and the atmosphere relaxed. The prices are very reasonable worked out to just a couple of USD for mains.

 

Try the fish in banana leaf, very good! The do spring roll etc also

Linda

 

Linda,

 

Thanks but too late!! However, I found a lovely place down by the river and had a great lunch anyway...

 

Anne

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Hello,

 

Sorry to hear that Vincenzo had to cancel last night. Go hear him play as he is a very talented violinist, whom I heard play on the Mercury. He plays a little of everything and all of it very well.

 

Fred

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Glad to hear the entertainment is a cut above Oceania.

We picked up our travel documents on the weekend for our group of 11.

One month till we embark on our cruise.

 

Many thanks for the intensive daily reporting.

It made for great reading.

Enjoy the rest of your trip.

Rita

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27th & 28th January – Halong Bay

 

After another very rough and sleepless night at sea we arrived at Halong Bay around 1 o’clock in the afternoon yesterday. The sail in through all the limestone outcrops is quite a sight however, instead of the blue skies and turquoise waters one sees in the tourist photographs we arrived to steely grey skies and very cold temperatures. It’s quite amazing that the previous day we had been walking around Hoi An in shorts and t-shirts in temperatures in the mid to high 20’sC then this morning it was out with the warmest clothes one could find as the temperature dropped to a mere 11C. Immediately after the ship was cleared we were all off to our various destinations. There was an overnight excursion to Hanoi, a complimentary shuttle bus into the tourist side of Halong city or an excursion to the caves and a cruise around Halong Bay. Very many of us took the latter but went in groups aboard several of the traditional wooden boats. My group went to the caves first then to the fishing village and finally the cruise around the bay before returning to the pier in town. The caves are amazing and truly deserving of their UNESCO World Heritage site billing. The small fishing village found within these limestone outcrops was a very special site to see also – so quiet, tucked away inside these huge limestone ‘islands’. We then cruised around the area for a further hour or so but as the afternoon wore on it got colder and colder out on the waters and by the time we returned to our buses I was almost in need of thawing out!!! However, a thoroughly enjoyable excursion that I would recommend to anyone visiting this port.

 

Subsequent to an invitation a few days ago I dined at Aqualina last night with John Howell the Cruise Director. John only returned from leave and boarded the ship in Singapore along with the rest of us so he is new to the Asian itineraries too. We enjoyed a lovely dinner with open and honest communication about both my Azamara experience, previous cruising experiences and cruising/traveling in general. As they say, time flies when you’re having fun, and before we knew it dinner had turned into a late night, the plus side of which was the ship was in port overnight so no rough seas and for the first time in many days I slept like a log and enjoyed a lie-in this morning. It’s another cold, grey day here in Halong Bay and as I had already decided not to do the long day tour to Hanoi I am enjoying staying onboard the ship, although there is a free shuttle into Halong City for those who want to brave the cold for a few hours.

 

We sail at 7 o’clock this evening and have our final day at sea tomorrow prior to arrival at journey’s end in Hong Kong on Friday. I don’t have much of my internet package time left but there may be enough for one more post when we reach Hong Kong, if not then I’ll post my final installment when I get back home. Bon Voyage to all those joining the ship in Hong Kong, I believe there are 40+ onboard now who will be staying onboard for that sector too.

 

If anyone has any more questions I can find the answers to whilst onboard please post and I’ll try and fit those into the rest of my package time too…

 

Anne

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I would like to know more about the "rocky seas," how the ship rides, how much is related to the ship design, the use or lack of use of stabilizers, the itinerary/time of year, etc.

 

We are very experienced cruisers and nevertheless do not like feeling queasy, let alone feeling downright seasick.

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Anne,

 

Thank you so much taking the time to post. We appreciate the time it takes to do this plus the cost of using the internet. You have answered so many of our questions and have helped to allay a lot of our fears etc.

 

I wish you a safe journey home and lots more cruising.

 

Jennie

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Sorry I didn't get the chance to post my final installment from the ship but after managing to dodge anything infectious for almost two weeks onboard I awoke on Friday morning with a sore throat and the dreaded cough that I had heard many others with throughout the trip...Fortunately I travel well prepared for such eventualities and had medecines with me...

 

Our final day at sea was a very foggy one so we didn't see much but heard quite a lot of the ship's fog horn. Whilst many onboard were disappointed to discover that the ship would not be berthed at the Ocean Terminal during our overnight in Hong Kong, we were notified that, on it's way to the China Merchant's Wharf, the ship had been given permission to sail into Hong Kong via Victoria Harbour. The downside to this being that we would pick up the pilot at around 5 a.m. so anyone wanting to see the sail into H.K. would have to be up very early!! I did wake up early but not early enough as we were already approaching our berth as I peeked out of my windows....

 

We were very lucky with the weather in Hong Kong and after the previous cold days in Halong Bay or at sea, we were pleased to see blue skies and sunshine again. I'm not sure whether Azamara did this with the previous port calls in Hong Kong but for our trip they provided a free shuttle bus between the China Merchant's Wharf and Central station on Hong Kong Island. On day one I went with a couple from the ship to Stanley Market and up Victoria Peak - as we all had hotels booked in Kowloon the following day we didn't bother going over there. Hong Kong was still very busy with vistors who had travelled there for the Chinese New Year and the queues for the tram up to the Peak were two hours long!!! Fortunately, we met someone who suggested going up by taxi, which we did in a fraction of the time and then caught the tram back down.

 

We returned to the ship late afternoon on Friday to face the dreaded packing so we were all ready for disembarkation the following morning. Disembarkation on Saturday was relatively painless but as the facilites at the China Merchant's Wharf are only temporary ones (large tents for baggage reclaim and one to wait for taxis, cars, etc.) it was a bit disorganised. Although not on an Azamara package I had a room booked at one of the hotels they were using so had booked transfer only - unfortunately I had not been provided with a voucher nor was my name on the list but they did eventually let be board the bus. I guess this was a fitting end to one of those trips whereby, if something can go wrong it will....

 

I flew out of Hong Kong very late on Saturday night and arrived back in Dubai around 6 o'clock yesterday morning.

 

As always, I met some lovely people along the way, enjoyed visiting some unusual places, but in all honesty I can't say it has been the best trip I have ever made. Some of this can be attributed to Azamara not meeting my expectations and some to circumstances (i.e. the remoteness of many of the ports and the weather/sea conditions, etc.). However, such is life and what suits one does not necessarily suit all so that is my personal opinion only, I met many others onbboard for whom nothing went wrong and who found the Azamara expereience a perfect fit, etc......

 

Well, it's back to work for me now. I trust all of your who have upcoming cruises on the Quest have a great time and I look forward to reading your comments as or when you post them...

 

Anne

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Hi Anne

 

Thanks for the final installment and the honest, objective commentary throughout. I have enjoyed reading it all.:)

 

It's a shame that your weather was not better as I have done an almost similar itinerary from Singapore to Hong Kong via Vietnam during the month of November and for the most part we had great hot and sunny weather. But as you know there are never any guarantees with weather. Currently we are having blizzard conditions here in the UK, and Australia is an a heatwave...:rolleyes:!

 

Just one question: I know you booked a transfer, but did you see if there were lots taxis readily available at disembarkion in HK?

 

Thanks Linda

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Hi Anne

 

Just one question: I know you booked a transfer, but did you see if there were lots taxis readily available at disembarkion in HK?

 

Thanks Linda

 

Linda,

 

The first day we were there taxis in the area of the China Merchant's Wharf seemed to be few and far between and the only transport allowed onto the pier was the tour and shuttle buses. However, for disembarkation they had two tents set up on the dockside. The larger of the two was used as the baggage 'hall' and the smaller one as a waiting area for taxis, private car transfers, etc. I am assuming the port agent was tasked with ensuring there was a steady supply on the day but having now been there, done that, I think I would be inclined to make some kind of advance arrangement rather than wait and hope on the day.....Azamara had transfers going to the airport and to 3 or 4 different hotels...

 

Anne

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