What I enjoyed the most from our three-day “cruise to nowhere” was the feeling of actually leaving Singapore. It was looking out at the open sea and seeing nothing but ocean and sky which elevated the experience. Families with young kids will enjoy the amenities. For those into gambling, a casino is there. There are also numerous food options and places to sit and grab a drink. I can say I felt relaxed after the trip.
If you missed it, you can read part 1 and part 2 of my Quantum of the Seas series. We cruised in October 2021. Notably, it was when gatherings in public were limited to two pax only.
I’m sorry it took a while to get to this third and last post. To sum it up, we had a great time onboard Quantum of the Seas. It was my first time to ride a cruise ship. I understand why it can be addicting. You don’t have to think about itineraries (unless there was a port-of-call). It’s all laid out for you. And for the planner in me… I kinda liked that. I don’t need to do anything.
Quick peek at our day 3 activities
We had breakfast at the main dining hall on deck 4.
After breakfast, PJ and I got into the jacuzzi at the Solarium. There was a ten-minute limit at the time.
Lunch was at Windjammer and I tried the roast beef steak. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Windjammer is the buffet-style food area on one of the upper levels.
We enjoyed a bucket of Corona beers at the NorthStar bar in the early afternoon.
PJ and I tried the hot dogs from the SeaPlex. We wanted to enjoy it at an open space in the back of the ship but were politely told we couldn’t have a picnic there due to prevailing restrictions on outdoor gatherings (even if we were only two). We brought the hot dogs back to the room.
The room! We really just stayed in the room. PJ slept while I read a book on the stateroom balcony.
For our last dinner on this trip, we had it at the main dining hall on deck 3.
After dinner, we enjoyed the Duo Du Soleil show at the Royal Theatre.
Back in the room, I watched Black Panther which I downloaded onto my iPad. And, I started packing.
When we woke up the next morning, we were already parked in Singapore.
I learned that even if our disembarkation time was assigned from 7:00 AM, you can still grab a quick bite at the Windjammer upstairs. We squeezed in a meal and enjoyed a view of the sunrise.
I’ll leave the rest in pictures.
We had a great time on Quantum of the Seas and would repeat a similar cruise experience in the future. I heard that Spectrum of the Seas will move to Singapore (currently in Hong Kong) in 2022.
And the Oscar for Best Moment of this Past Year goes to… sliding the door open to this view:
While PJ was asleep, I quietly opened the sliding door and stepped onto the balcony of our stateroom. The morning sun was right there. What even isthat? Morning sun? I’m not a morning person. Whatever it was, it was glorious. It was glorious enough to inspire me to start writing a book. Or to finish reading a book that’s taking me months to read. A view of an open ocean is like the cure to our generation’s Zoom fatigue.
If you missed the first part of my Quantum of the Seas series, you can start here.
Think about it. The entire year, most of us are glued to our Microsoft Outlook at home. We even eat most of our meals at home. Entertainment? It’s streamed on our laptops, devices, and television screens at home. The view outside my apartment in Pasir Ris is the adjacent condo. Of neighbours’ clothes drying under Singapore’s equatorial sun. That’s not even a view. That’s like a Black Mirror episode.
I’m lucky I got to finish reading at least two chapters of Atomic Habits before breakfast.
Our first breakfast was at Windjammer, which is a buffet-style meal area that is included for guests. You also have an option to do a proper sit down restaurant with a 3 or 4-course menu… but I thought buffets would be better for breakfast.
After breakfast, due to prevailing restrictions at the time (October 2020), I could only meet up with my friend Naomi at the Solarium. PJ and I parted ways so he can enjoy the swimming pool area.
Let’s face it, Naomi and I both brought books to read in the comfort of an air-conditioned Solarium. But we were also enjoying a conversation and sipping on our drinks – being occasionally reminded by staff to put our mask back on after taking sips. It was that strict!
After lunch at Windjammer and resting in the cabin, it was already late afternoon and I wanted to squeeze in a jog on the top deck. I noticed that the ship was “heading back” to Singapore. If you looked out to sea, you can see the Singapore skyline in the distance. Plus, loads of tankers and cargo ships.
I managed to squeeze in two loops. It was also my mistake to use Strava to track my run on the deck. The ship was moving… duh. I rushed back to the room to shower and change into comfortable clothes. Our next activity was the NorthStar Capsule.
NorthStar experience booked at 5:30pm
We booked the NorthStar Capsule the night before. You need to spend an additional $20 each to access the 8-minute ride. I thought this was a must-do onboard the ship.
Tip! Book the NightStar ride at sunset for optimal views. I think it’s also worth getting this while the ship is still docked in Singapore on the first night.
I understood that we were supposed to be on the capsule at the same time with another group. But the other duo had arrived late. PJ and I luckily had the capsule to ourselves + the crew member assigned.
The view was perfect! We got the sunset. We got an exclusive capsule. We got the view as the ship was making a U-turn so you can see the ship’s wake in the water. Definitely worth the extra $20!
Back downstairs we enjoyed a round of drinks at the accompanying NorthStar bar where we met a Filipino crew mate. He was super friendly (as are all the crew members we encountered on Quantum of the Seas).
PJ and I took a tour of some other areas inside the ship. This included the main street on deck 4 as well as spotting the robotic arms at the Bionic bar on deck 5.
Soon enough it was already dinner time. For dinner on our first full day, we headed to the sit-down “MyDining” on deck 4. Again, Filipino staff members would actually serve you an extra plate.
We didn’t make any pre-bookings for entertainment that night. Instead we wanted to rest in our stateroom. I watched Black Panther which I had downloaded onto my device through the Disney+ app.
Also, our two other companions made a new friend.
The state rooms have assigned crew staff who look after your stay there. You can give additional gratuity to them towards the end of the trip.
My favourite thing about this day was waking up to that view of the open ocean. I think that’s the “money shot” or the “this is what I paid for” moment. It wasn’t about the numerous amenities and food on the ship. It was the feeling of escape. The pandemic has confined many of us to our homes and local communities. There is a big world out there that we’re unable to enjoy in the way that we did before the pandemic. A glimpse of the open sea meant everything. I’ll book a similar cruise again if I can experience it over and over.
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!
After years and years of supporting the flag carrier of the Philippines… I finally got a tiny taste of its business class! I have never flown business class EVER. This was a surprise booking which I’ll explain later.
I’ve filmed material for a new video episode about my experience flying PR 507 Manila to Singapore in business class. You can subscribe and visit my YouTube channel. For now though, some quick photos I managed to take.
Excuse the geekery. Also, nahihiya ako mag-picture (I’m a bit embarrassed to take photos). I guess this fuels my aspirations in life. Sipping on champagne at 35,000 feet. Sitting or sleeping comfortably on a flatbed or super reclining seat. A Parks and Rec ‘treat YO self’ situation. Or a feel of what money can buy if you work hard for that money. Like start a business, run for office, or strike some sort of agreement with a sugar daddy.
I’ll cover the Mabuhay Lounge (NAIA T2) and actual seats in my upcoming episode. Let’s fast forward to the plane. It was a Boeing 777 on the first Monday after New Year.
Like in SQ economy (what I can afford on a good day), we get menus!
What’s in the menu? A selection of the flight’s hot meals along with a list of beverages available like champagne, wine, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. My seatmate got herself mimosas… so I basically asked the FA for the same.
Next, the seat in front of me. Look biiish at this space:
You have to get out of your seat to grab the magazine. Oh snap. The screens are also a bit far. LOL. But what I enjoyed was the configuration of the seats. There’s no squeeze. There’s no ‘ma’am may I go out???’ drama. Use the bathroom as many times as you want. There’s so much space. You get a view of 3 or 4 windows too.
They provide cloth for your table!!! Okay, you’re getting my drift. Maybe I can grab table cloths from Daiso and use those during our upcoming Scoot to Bali.
Here’s a photo of the lightly salted cashews… served in a saucer. Exquisite. No tiny bag of peanuts to deal with. No Korean Air nut rage needed. I had a glass of white along with the orange juice.
By this point, I had struck a conversation with my seatmate who was happily sharing her travel experiences to and from Singapore. While she was talking, I wanted to take a photo of the appetizer. “Picturan ko lang muna ito ahihi.”
A bread roll. Except that you can choose from a basket that the FA in the business class goes around with. And that the bread is very nice and warm. The butter is served in the usual packet you can see above. Then there’s this glazed shrimp over mango. In fairness, masarap. The greens… for texture or garnishing. Kinain ko ghorl.
Now onto the mains… I picked the milkfish with mixed brown rice.
Yes, serving you business class bangus.
It was a healthy chunk of milkfish which I loved. Served in a nice ceramic bowl. ❤
I enjoyed my brief business class experience on Philippine Airlines Flight PR 507 Manila to Singapore. Can’t wait to edit the full video and share that with you. Also, the FAs of Philippine Airlines are beautiful and handsome. I will always have a soft spot for Filipino.
How did I end up in business class? I had booked my Manila flights quite late in the year. The economy ticket was expensive (over $400) and the return was… SOLD OUT. They only had business class available for my preferred return day and time. BUT… there was a special promotion at that exact moment where the business class was on “sale”. I ended up buying return flights (SIN-MNL-SIN) for SGD 780 (one part economy, one part business class). That’s almost a steal for the peak season.
Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 4 opens October 31, 2017! They built it in under three years. It’s situated where the old Budget Terminal used to be. Terminal 4 or T4 is not connected to Terminals 1 to 3 via the Skytrain service. But shuttles will be provided.
If the video won’t play, you can click to see it on YouTube here.
The open house was a wonderful opportunity to check out the Fast and Seamless Travel (FAST) feature. These include the self check-in (already available at the other terminals), automated Bag-Drop and Boarding Gates with facial recognition technology, and new centralised screening areas.
It is a sparkling new compact terminal that will service budget carriers like AirAsia and Cebu Pacific. It will also cater to Cathay Pacific and Korean Air. Changi Airport is Skytrax World’s Best Airport for five consecutive years. Business Insider describes it as having “received praise from flyers for its beautiful architecture, efficient operation, luxurious amenities, and dining and shopping options.”
Other upcoming megastructures include Project Jewel, a lustrous facility with vortex waterfalls that will bridge the first three terminals together. And a fifth terminal megastructure with a new runway set to open in the next decade.
Boracay Haven Resort was our team’s lodging during the 11th Boracay International Dragon Boat Festival (BIDBF) from 20-22 April 2017.
I think it’s the best one I stayed at during a dragon boat race. This is third year in a row I participated at the BIDBF.
2015, La Carmela de Boracay – the expansions give the resort a “mass tourism” taste to it, I did not enjoy my stay here.
2016, Deparis Beach Resort – rustic, centrally located, great restaurant area
I was happy with Boracay Haven Resort. Its location is right at the heart of Station 2 (next to Henann Garden Resort and the McDonalds). It’s only a two minute walk to the beach down a reasonably sized alley.
I also liked the breakfast buffet spread. I wasn’t expecting much but what was on offer was tasty enough. The pool is a refreshing amenity. Great to take a dip before or after a trip to the beach. The whole idea of Boracay is to get wet and stay wet.
I’ve always wanted to make a flight review video. I used to kill time by watching “flight review” videos on YouTube. When I was a little depressed last year, I would watch videos from the guy behind FlightTravels. It’s like I didn’t have to spend thousands of dollars flying around the world when all I could do is immerse myself in his videos.
Here’s a pocket-sized flight review of my experience on SilkAir flight MI 599 Singapore (SIN) to Kalibo (KLO).
The reason I prefer to fly direct to Kalibo from Singapore is because two years ago I almost missed my connecting flight back to Singapore after delays at NAIA. The bus ride between Kalibo and Caticlan isn’t so bad (the route is scenic).
As of April 2017, Kalibo is currently the only international airport that handles larger jets carrying travellers to Boracay. AFAIK, Caticlan has already expanded its runway but it hasn’t completed a new terminal yet.
When that new terminal opens in Caticlan, huge aircrafts will be bringing more and more tourists to Boracay. It’s good news for tourism but bad news for the environment. I personally can’t wait for Caticlan International Airport to open… but I also hope local government is stepping up to address Boracay’s growing pollution.
Last weekend I was in Boracay for a dragon boat race. I wanted to stay connected but not have the hassle of switching phone numbers or adding an expensive data roaming service.
Then I discovered that the airport we love has a Pocket Wifi service being offered to travellers coming out of Singapore. I booked mine through their website and collected it on the morning of my flight to Kalibo.
I made a video about the experience! Click below to watch.
I guess the questions are…
Did it work?
– Yes, it did! In Kalibo, Caticlan, and Boracay. But there was no signal at some parts along the scenic route between Kalibo and Caticlan.
How’s the speed?
– Fair enough! I got to upload photos on Instagram during the times I had a connection. I got to send messages.
Is the connection stable?
– It was stable enough once you were at a location that seems to be connected. There’s a disclaimer saying that the device may not work well in coastal and mountainous areas. But it worked fine for me in Boracay.
How much did it cost?
– As of April 2017, it costs about S$8.00 per day. The first day is considered free. So I only ended up paying S$24.00 for a four-day trip to Boracay, Philippines.
Any other tips?
– I would purchase insurance (S$10.00) for the device if I were bringing to the Philippines. It’s only $10 for a little peace of mind.
It was a no-frills first experience using Changi Recommends Pocket Wifi for Overseas. I’m planning to use the service again in future travels.
Bewildering feeling emerging from Tsim Sha Tsui MTR and landing yourself straight into the streets of Hong Kong. This is a very interesting neighborhood of puddles borne by dripping airconditoners and shadows, broken street tiles, and walls of cheap advertisements. Finding the guest house reception on the 16th floor was exciting.
10:39pm, Airport Express HKIA to Kowloon
Just met up with my two friends! We were trying to get pocket wi-fi but discovered later we were queuing for the ones that locals would use when they travel abroad. We decided to buy local SIM cards instead.
Hong Kong International Airport (Arrivals Hall), 9:21pm
Landed safely! Now waiting for my two friends arriving on Cebu Pacific 5J 142 from Manila. Feeling somewhat of a slight sore throat. This airport is massive and so… clinical. ;p
Onboard CX734 to Hong Kong, 6:56pm
Dinner is served. Chicken with Rice. The other option was Seafood Pasta. Ice cream and wine was also served. Finished up “How to Be Single?” and a 50-min cultural documentary about Hong Kong. The flight is smooth.
Onboard CX734 to Hong Kong, 6:51pm
How timely and relevant? “How to Be Single?” is my inflight entertainment.
Onboard CX734 parked at Gate D32, 4:52pm
Boarded the plane! It’s kind of a dated Boeing 777. The IFE system looks quite old. Reminds me of the 1990s. Plane is packed. See you in Hong Kong!
Changi Airport T1 Gate D32, 4:16pm
The CX aircraft (a Boeing 777) arrived late so there’s an hour delay suddenly. It’s okay since it’s a chance to quietly read the book that I can never seem to finish. I’ve also deleted my Facebook App. I hope it’s a perfect opportunity to zone out.
Changi Airport T1 Departures, 3:28pm
Checked-in! First time to skip the traditional check-in counters and proceed straight to gate after immigration. No bags to drop.
17 Jun 2016 (Friday), 2:53pm
En route to Changi Airport to catch the 4:05pm CX flight to Hong Kong. Thank goodness for office summer fridays! First time to fly between these two super-cities.
Our 3rd full day in Coron was for the Coron Island Tour. This was also arranged by our hotel (similar to our Island Escapades Tour the previous day and the Smith Point visit on my birthday.) This was probably the most standard of tour packages in Coron– featuring Kayangan Lake.
We were picked up at our hotel at 8:30 AM by a Calamian Island Tours van. The van brought us to the boat jetty nearby (probably a 5-10 minute walk from One Averee Bay Hotel). The boat was already filled with other members of our tour group that morning.
Coron Island was just across the straits. Here were our stops in the order we visited. I took some notes while visiting:
Kayangan Lake – stunningly beautiful (but mosquito-ridden!). Bring and apply OFF! Lotion. You can opt to do some snorkelling to see what’s underneath the lake. You’ll spot some fishes and some rock formations. Suggestion is to be one of the first to arrive at the lake before other groups beat you there. This allows you to take a photo of the lake without people. Try to grab the floating balsa before everyone else. Take your time on the steps up and down as they may be slippery. Definitely one of Coron’s most picturesque.
Coron Coral Garden – A wonderful snorkelling spot. Depth was fine during our visit. No need for slippers when we went in high tide. I spotted beautiful blue fishes and a few jellyfish at the deeper side. You can work with your guides to get you around faster using those flotation circles.
Beach 91 (Lunch Venue) – This was a small beach meant that served the purpose of being a pit stop for tour groups. Pass the rice and be friendly with your group! The waves were beautiful at high tide. Some mosquitos. You can kayak if you want stronger waves. Beach 91 is cornered by towering limestone cliffs.
Japanese Shipwreck – because we couldn’t access Siete Pecados (on our original itinerary), we were brought to a location where you can spot a creepy WWII Japanese shipwreck. You could only see the bow. There were plenty of fishes! I spotted one jellyfish the size of a shopping bag.
CYC Beach – our boat driver and tour guides said that this was one of Coron’s last remaining public beaches since all the other ones were privately owned. We arrived here during low tide which meant the boat was unable to approach the island. Some of us walked to the beach in shallow water. Not much to snorkel but I spotted some shrimps and a larger fish the size of a remote control.
Twin Lagoon – a fantastic finale for our Coron Island tour. It was beautiful approaching the limestone cliffs during late afternoon. There was one lagoon for boats, and another lagoon for people to swim to while wearing life vests. There’s this strange warm and cold water sensation that changes from time to time. Felt like entering a natural IMAX amphitheatre, with voices of tourists echoing. This was probably one of my favourite spots in Coron. Nothing to snorkel at since the water was dark (and mysterious). Wear slippers because some areas are rocky (especially getting through the shallow tunnel portion that links the two lagoons).
At the end of our two days of island tours, it appeared that my family were also having a great time. Which to me means everything. 🙂