The only cruise I’ve experienced was something called the Loboc River Cruise in Bohol. It would last only an hour. It was a chill cruise: a bamboo raft on a river.
As you already know, cruise lines are adapting to this pandemic by creating these “cruise to nowhere” packages. They sail out of port and then return to the same port after a few days. My flatmates and I wanted to experience Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas which is currently assigned to Singapore this year.
What we signed up for? A three-night ‘cruise to nowhere’ out of Singapore, in a junior stateroom with balcony.
Getting the PCR test
We sailed in mid-October this year. Prevailing restrictions at the time meant that we needed to get a negative test result from a PCR test first. This needed to be done within 48 hours of departure.
We registered for our PCR tests to be done (for free, included in the cruise package) with Fullerton Health at Raffles City. The entire process took less than five minutes when we arrived. I think they’ve removed the PCR test for cruises after October. It might just be a pre-boarding antigen rapid test (ART). We got the results via email within 24 hours.
Boarding for the cruise at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre
The departure time of Quantum of the Seas was 8:00 PM. Our assigned slot to begin the boarding procedures was at 4:30 PM. We arrived by taxi an hour early to see if we could get in earlier. It was useless since we were directed into the 4:30pm queue.
Tip! If you have bulky luggage, you can drop it off at the luggage counter and they will bring it straight to your stateroom.
Apart from getting a negative PCR test result within 48 hours of boarding the cruise, we also needed to complete an additional antigen rapid test (ART) prior to boarding on the day itself. We were led into a testing area with a view of the ship.
This entire process took about an hour. The testing area was organised and there were plenty of testing booths. They can test up to ten at a time I think? They also give out some water. The signages had the instructions and ushers were around to assist passengers.
This was also my first time inside the Marina Bay Cruise Centre. It looked exactly the way it would like in a pandemic… empty. The terminal hall is massive. It reminds me of Changi Airport. I imagine how lively it would be during peak travel season.
After clearing immigration to exit Singapore, it was time to board the ship. Finally!
You could imagine how excited I was to finally set foot outside of Singapore for the first time. Although the ship will follow Singapore’s time and regulations (like groups of max two people), it finally felt like a holiday of sorts. I’m holding my passport, my “hand carry” backpack, and I’m being greeting by many friendly faces of Royal Caribbean. Many of which are Filipino too!
As soon as we got onboard, the first thing we needed to do was complete a briefing by the crew. We headed to our assigned briefing station and it only took two minutes to be informed about some basic information about our trip and our on-boarding process.
So cool to be on a cruise ship! I noticed people were starting to stream into the ship as well. I wanted to check out the room so we headed upstairs to the ninth level.
Getting our junior stateroom with balcony
Finally, our room! We didn’t bid for any upgrades. I’m really happy with it! I think this is one of the standard rooms (with balcony). While stepping into it, I couldn’t help but think about the SMDC one-bedroom flat I recently invested in. *Cries in Filipino* It’s alright. Cute!
No really, the room was absolutely fine. I was already excited to go out and explore the ship while it was still docked in Singapore. The bathroom was small but functional and very clean. We were also provided with a modest pandemic hygiene kit in the form of two masks and the cutest Purell sachets.
Wasting no time, we headed out to grab some of the free pizza at Sorrento’s. Yes, free pizza! You can pop by a place called Sorrento’s on deck 4 and be served as much pizza as you can safely consume. It’s also connected to Cafe Promenade which serves coffee, tea, and light snacks.
Here’s a view of deck 4:
I think the happiest feeling was having that unli-pizza just available for you. The pizza wasn’t even lousy. It’s a New York-style pizza, with thin crust, just how I like it. They also serve some sides like salad and cheese. PJ was happy with his pizzas and even took a second plate.
We could either go back to the room and relax after what felt like a day of packing our luggage, queueing, and getting tested. Or we can go up to the roof deck to enjoy the sunset with a city view.
Which would you pick?
Mine was the roof deck at sunset:
We also walked around to see what else they had like the NorthStar observation capsule, jogging paths, and swimming pools.
I loved the view and the ambiance that we ended up staying until after the sun had set. We found ourselves at NorthStar Bar where we ordered some drinks and took in the view.
I read that one of the best things to do onboard the first day is to start booking your activities using the Royal Caribbean app. We started making reservations for live shows. But I liked “doing nothing” actually. I loved being on the roof deck and looking out at the views.
The first meal of our voyage would be the dinner on the first night. All meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) are included in our cruise package. For the first day, it would only the dinner service.
You can choose to have dinner at several of the complimentary locations across the ship. For our first night, we ended up at MyTime dining which is the main dining hall. We were led to an alternate seating area since the main area was full already.
Here’s the view from the deck 3 dining area:
It was more formal in this area so good thing we were wearing pants. I also opted to wear long sleeves here. For a less formal meal, passengers can head over to WindJammer on one of the higher floors. They serve buffet style meals there.
At the MyTime dining area, they provide a menu and you can choose options for your course.
It didn’t help that the staff was Filipino. When they learned we were Filipino, they made recommendations for us to try other menu items. They also shared what their favorites were. This included sampling two types of desserts:
After dinner, we headed over to the Royal Theatre at the aft (back) of the ship on deck 4 to catch the Sequins and Feathers show. The colourful show was opened by the cruise director. The venue requires pre-booking and the seating was arranged with social distancing in mind.
Before heading back to the room, we ran into our two other flatmates who suggested we check out a live band performing at the Music Hall. This was a great way to cap our first night.
The band that was playing comprised of Filipino singers and musicians. They performed plenty of pop hits and I really liked their version of Bruno Mars “Leave The Door Open”.
Guess what we did before going to bed?
Grab more pizza from Sorrento’s and take them back to the room!
Stay tuned for my post about the next day! 😀