An unintentional cruise review of Royal Caribbean Spice of Southeast Asia aboard the Voyager of the Seas. Plus! Our port destinations itinerary–definitely less expensive options than the shore excursions offered by the cruise!
Table of Contents
- A Little Bit About the Royal Caribbean
- What’s Inside the Voyager of the Seas + Activities
- Itinerary + Port Destination Budget Ideas
- Verdict: Is It Worth It?
Cruises have never been on my radar since I think they’re expensive. But lucky me, I have a generous auntie who sponsored my first cruise experience with my family in January 2019. Before this, I never thought that cruises are actually worth the price. Find out why this has changed below!
A Little Bit About the Royal Caribbean
As of 2019, the Royal Caribbean International (RCI) is in the business for 51 years. Headquartered in Miami, Florida, RCI is one of the largest and best cruise lines in the world (according to Conde Nast Travel and U.S. News Travel). It operates 25 ships in total, including the four largest ships in the world.
What’s Inside the Voyager of the Seas + Activities
We boarded the Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas from Singapore. Since it was my first time, I didn’t have any cruise ships to compare it with. As a result, everything was new to me and I was basically amazed most of the time.
Launched in November 1998, the Voyager of the Seas was the largest cruise ship in the world at the time of its release. It was overtaken by her sister ship, Explorer of the Seas, the following year. It introduced the first rock climbing wall and ice-skating rink at sea.
- Passenger Capacity: 3,114
- Last Refurbished: 2014
Take a peek at what else is inside the cruise ship Voyager of the Seas. Here are some photos from our trip.
Where to Eat on The Royal Caribbean Cruise
- (Café) Promenade
The Promenade is the most happening place on the ship. Wherever you are onboard, you will see or hear what is happening there. Situated at the center, shops and restaurants surround the walking path. Some activities are done at the Promenade as well, and there’s live music at one of the bars at night.
- Main Dining Room
A grand place where you will eat fancy meals. Restaurants have different operating hours so be sure to check the onboard guide. In our case, my family and I were at the Dining Hall every night for dinner since it was included in our rate.
- Windjammer Café
For breakfast and lunch, we had numerous buffets at the Windjammer. In addition to a massive assortment of cuisines from around the world, the café has a nice outside view of nature.
Here are the other dining options on board. We just didn’t feel like checking them out.
- Izumi (Japanese)
- Chops Grille (American)
- Giovanni’s Table (Italian)
- Johnny Rockets (American)
- Ben & Jerry’s
What to Do on The Royal Caribbean Cruise
Following the Royal Caribbean Spice of Southeast Asia itinerary, shore excursions usually take around 8 hours at most. So, you will be on the ship for breakfast, dinner, and the whole night.
There’s also one cruising day. If you’re worried that you’ll get bored, here are the following activities (other than eating) you could do to past the time.
- Read a book while enjoying the view
- Watch the latest movies on the big screen
- Fight off the wind while playing mini golf
- Test your upper body strength with wall climbing
- Sweat out all the calories consumed at the gym
- Enjoy live performances (magic, standup comedy, musical, and more) at the theater
- Let your kids experience ice skating
- Chill at the pools and jacuzzi
- Experience surfing with the FlowRider surf simulator
- Shoot some hoops at the basketball court
- Challenge your friends on a game of table tennis
- Join game nights and mixers (for the singles out there!)
- Relax to the max at the spa
Royal Caribbean provides an “itinerary” every day for activities and restaurants suggestions, so you really don’t have to worry!
Itinerary + Port Destination Budget Ideas
The Royal Caribbean Spice of Southeast Asia starts and ends in Singapore. Our cruise trip went from January 7-14, 2019. My family and I arrived in Singapore the day before and left two days after the cruise.
Before boarding the Voyager of the Seas, we did very basic things while in the city and by basic I meant, just walked around and ate good food.
Where to Stay in Singapore for a Family
There are not many budget accommodations for families traveling to Singapore. If you’re not really picky then I highly recommend Mitraa Inn. It’s far from fancy but it did the job! Their rooms were spacious, beds were comfortable (unless you’re sleeping on the top bunk—the way up was a bit tough), and they served light breakfast to start your day.
The shore excursions offered by Royal Caribbean were too expensive for my taste. Even if my auntie was going to pay for us all, I couldn’t let her. So, I tried to find alternative budget options for a group of 7, and of course, I did!
|Day||Ports of Call||Arrival||Departure|
|2||Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang), Malaysia||7:00||18:00|
Day 1 – Singapore
- In transit | Royal Caribbean departure, check in 11:30 – 15:30
- Departure port: Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore (MBCCS), 61 Marina Coastal Drive
After a hefty breakfast at one of the hawker places near our hostel, we booked an Uber to go to Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore to board the Voyager of the Seas.
Always check the Royal Caribbean Spice of Southeast Asia program, especially details about the boarding time. In my case, I was with my family so naturally, we were there very early at 11:30 🙂 The boarding process was organized. There were instructions and staff to guide guests.
It took us about an hour and a half to finish. While we were able to explore the ship before it got full, the major downside of checking in early was that the rooms and even the Dining Hall for lunch were not ready yet.
To past time, make sure to bring with you in your carry-on your swimwear and a change of clothes so you can take a dip while waiting. The rest of the day was spent roaming around the ship and eating dinner.
Day 2 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Arrived: 7:00 | Left: 18:00
- Port: Port Klang
Traveling with family meant no risky behavior so at every port destination, we had to go back to the ship at least 2 hours before it officially leaves!
There’s nothing to do in Port Klang so everybody usually takes the trip to Kuala Lumpur, which is around an hour away, so factor that in when you plan your excursion.
Tour guide contact in Malaysia
When we were there, there were many drivers offering their services at the port so technically you could just pick one when you arrive. But if you feel like preparing beforehand, I highly recommend Sharad. Here are his details:
- Sharad Sachdev
- WhatsApp: +60 12-625 0209
- Email: email@example.com
- Reviews: TripAdvisor,Yelp
I emailed him, we agreed on a rate, and exchanged WhatsApp numbers. You could negotiate depending on the number of places you want to visit and the length of the tour. In my case, we had him picked us up at 8:00 am then by 3:00 pm we were back.
On the day the ship docked, Sharad was waiting for us at the port. It was a quick half-day trip. He was accommodating, had a lot of stories, and gave us water for free!
Here are the places we visited:
- Petronas Towers. Malaysia’s infamous twin towers which were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004.
- Batu Caves. A Hindu temple and shrine, with an iconic large Hindu statue at the entrance and a 272-step climb to get a view of the city center.
- Merdeka Square. Literally Independence Square, it serves as the core of Kuala Lumpur’s colonial landscape and where the city proclaimed its freedom in 1957.
- Old Railway Station. A Moorish-style architecture built in 1910 which used to be Kuala Lumpur’s main railway hub until 2001.
- Sultan Abdul Samad Building.Constructed in 1857 after the reigning Selangor sultan at the time and served as the offices of the British colonial administration.
- Thien Hoe Temple. A beautiful and colorful 6-tiered temple dedicated to Mazu, the Chinese sea goddess, which opened in 1989.
Day 3 – Penang, Malaysia
- Arrived: 8:00 | Left: 19:00
- Port: Penang
I didn’t plan anything in advance in Penang because from what I read online, a walking tour was doable. That was a mistake because I was with four senior citizens and it was scorching hot!
We ended up hiring a van after walking for just about 10 minutes! Again, there was no shortage of drivers offering tour services. This is the time to practice your negotiating skills but don’t be too stingy too! As expected, the bigger the group, the bigger the savings.
The driver took us to the following places:
- Georgetown. The capital city of Penang and a World Heritage Site, Georgetown used to be a trading hub, and is now known for its British colonial buildings, street art, Chinese shophouses, and traditional food.
- Kek Lok Si Temple. Also known as the “Temple of Supreme Bliss,” Kek Lok Si Temple is the largest Buddhist temple complex in Southeast Asia blending Mahayana Buddhism and Chinese rituals.
- Clan Jetties. Water villages that are over a century old, each jetty is named after a Chinese clan and the Chews are the most-tourist friendly.
- Hawker stalls and street art. Penang is full of hawker food and street art and they are easy to find. A short walk from the port would lead you to the center and there, you can practically take your pick!
- Coffee Tree. Our driver just brought us here. Maybe he had a commission, maybe not. But this place has export-quality coffee (in different flavors!) that you can take home to your friends and family.
Day 4 – Langkawi, Malaysia
- Arrived: 8:00 | Left: 19:00
- Port: Awana Porto Malai
Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands which means there is a lot to explore. On arrival, there was a 10-minute, picturesque walk (of the islands and sea) to the other side of the quay where we were greeted by taxi drivers.
Tour guide contact in Langkawi
Because of the time crunch, I booked a private tour for our group beforehand… and saved a lot since the exact same shore excursion offered by Royal Caribbean was around thrice the price.
I opted for the mangrove tour which was excellent because my senior citizen aunties and father were impressed and pleased in the end. That’s all that matters! Here are the details:
- Langkawi Mangrove Tour by Bard
- Price: Depends on the number of people and preferred hours of tour
- Contact: +60 12-478 7561 (via WhatsApp)
- Reference: TripAdvisor
Here’s my review on TripAdvisor: “We booked this via WhatsApp for our day trip cruise excursion in Langkawi. They picked us up from the port and drove all the way to the starting point of the mangrove tour. Since we were a family of 7, we chose a private boat/tour which depended upon the hours/length we chose. Our tour guide was entertaining and knowledgeable, so we learned a lot about Langkawi’s ecosystem. After the tour, they brought us back to the port. My family enjoyed very much. We highly recommended!”
Day 5-6 – Phuket, Thailand
- Arrived: 8:00 | Left: 18:00 next day
- Port: Patong Beach
Unfortunately, in Phuket, I didn’t plan anything specific since there’s Patong Beach and you can literally swim when you get off the ship. There are multiple restaurants and shops a few meters from the shoreline too.
For us, we didn’t do anything close to interesting. My aunties just wanted to eat fresh fruits, so we got a Grab and went to the market. Here are the other things we did:
- Shopped at a thrift store in Jungceylon. I got a different color of the Mango dress that I love for a third of the original price!
- Bought souvenirs at Phuket Old Town. About 30 minutes’ drive from Patong Beach, discover heritage buildings, awesome food, old temples, and quaint shops in this compact town built on Phuket’s tin riches.
- Strolled along the Patong Beach shoreline. Of course, with no plans in my mind. Admiring the beautiful view and just chilling on the beach were good ways to past the time too.
If you’re traveling with your buddies, other things to do in Phuket include partying all night, visiting an elephant sanctuary, trying the Flying Hanuman zipline experience, and so on. Many things to do and explore!
Day 7 – Cruising at Sea
Now’s your last chance to do all the things you haven’t yet done on board the Royal Caribbean Spice of Southeast Asia! Or you can just sleep. Then eat. Then go back to sleep. Up to you.
Day 8 – Singapore
- Arrived: 8:00
- Port: Marina Bay Cruise Center Singapore
There was a lot of waiting during the disembarkation but overall it was organized and went smoothly. We had our luggage picked up from our room, so we didn’t have to carry them with us while going through immigration.
We booked a Grab going to our accommodation which was Mitra Inn, dropped off our luggage, and went out for a stroll around the city. True to our Asian roots, we went to Lucky Plaza for some budget shopping. Actually, it was my father who recommended it. He remembered it being a place where Filipinos hang out when he visited the city for work maybe four decades ago. Lol
Other things we did in Singapore:
- Went to Gardens by the Bay. Shed pounds and saw amazing architecture.
- Had fun at Universal Studios. The lines were horrible (waiting time ran between 1 to 2 hours each), but the Transformers attraction was my favorite! We eventually bought the express pass to save time and try as many rides as possible.
- Ate chili crabs… or not. A signature Singapore dish. We went to Hua Yu Wee around 19:00 but unfortunately, they ran out of crabs. So, get a reservation and make it early! My auntie said JUMBO has exceptional chili crabs too.
Verdict: Is It Worth It?
For a first-timer, the Royal Caribbean Spice of Southeast Asia was worth it. Port destinations were great. There were a lot of activities onboard to entertain guests. I particularly loved the hospitality of the staff.
The downside was definitely the shore excursions which were very highly doable for half to a third of the price. If you want to save like us, do explore the budget alternatives I mentioned here. With just a bit of research and patience, you will get the best experience for your buck.
Are you going on a cruise trip soon? Where? Happy cruising!