Getting away from it all on board Genting Dream.
Writer Véronique Lo
“Come quickly, you’ll want to see this,” my partner waves at me from the balcony as I enter our room. Curious, I make my way to the open door; a warm, briny breeze kisses my face.
“What do you–“
Mesmerised by the view, my question is left unfinished as I join him leaning on the railing. Tonight the moon is showing her full face, silver light illuminating the sky and sea below, where the waves glitter like diamonds as we drift silently across the ocean. It reminds me of the night scene from Life of Pi – simply surreal.
We are on Genting Dream, an 18deck, 151,300-ton cruise ship by Dream Cruises, which just left Okinawa, Japan, and is now sailing steadily toward Nansha, China, before making its way to our final destination – where we embarked five days ago – Hong Kong. With a capacity of more than 3,300 guests, the ship can feel crowded at times (especially during drills and parties), but back on the balcony in our Dream Suite, the world is far behind us. Gone are the noises of the crowds, and in their place only a murmur of waves remains.
The fear of feeling ‘trapped’ in a small cabin previously deterred me from cruises, but Genting Dream proved my fear groundless. Of the 1,674 guest staterooms, 142 suites belong to Dream Palace, an exclusive clubhouse that provides a range of bespoke services and privileges. The suites are lavishly designed and generous in space; our Dream Suite for example, is around 40sqm with modern amenities that make the stay more than comfortable. The fact that the ship just made her maiden voyage in November 2016 means everything is state of the art and in excellent condition.
Dream Palace guests have access to the Genting Club on Decks 16–18, which offer private facilities such as pool, gym, spa, restaurant and a whisky and cigar lounge. The restaurant serves complimentary breakfast, lunch and dinner – a good choice on busy days when everywhere else is packed, plus the dinner menu changes daily, which sometimes can be an international buffet, and other times fine dining fusion fare.
The best part about being a Dream Palace guest, however, is that you can truly relax while your butler caters to your every need. With the variety of on-board activities and excursions on shore, it can be stressful to plan your days especially when reservations are necessary. We would not have managed if not for our butler Andrea, who gave us a tour of the cruise and useful tips on making the most of the six-day trip. So ask your butler for recommendations and they will be happy to arrange everything for you, whether it is an excursion, a dinner booking or a spa visit. To check your schedule, simply download the Dream Cruises app and log into your account.
FUN AT SEA
One of the highlights Andrea recommended was the Broadway-style show titled The Voyage of a Lover’s Dream at the Zodiac Theatre, and we weren’t disappointed. Combining acrobatics, music, whimsical costumes and creative visual effects, it tells the unimaginable love story of an astronaut and a mermaid – the plot may be confusing for non-mandarin speakers, but that doesn’t make the stunning effects and jaw-dropping acts by talented performers any less impressive. Since this is one of the most popular shows, book as soon as you have decided a time.
For those who can’t sit still, the cruise offers more than enough to do on sea days. The waterslide park, with its longest slide measuring more than 68m and its highest slide standing over 10m above pool level, is popular for families; while the rope course on Deck 18 has a 35m zip line that promises a thrilling experience. Other activities include a rock climbing wall, mini-golf and various sport facilities, such as table tennis, a basketball court and Glow Bowl. Those serious about staying fit during their getaway will find the personal training service and classes at Crystal Life Fitness helpful; and for the little ones, the Little Pandas Club and the arcade will keep them entertained with an array of fun activities and games.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: The Crystal Life Spa boasts a range of thermal facilities; don’t miss the signature show; book the couples’ treatment room for a wonderful sea view
Genting Dream stopped at Naha, Okinawa on the third day. As we slowly approached and the harbour appeared on the horizon, the family next-door shouted “Konnichiwa!” into the air; their excitement spreading to us as we joined the laughter. However, we don’t linger in the Okinawan capital for long – though ample time to have a glimpse of the reconstructed Shuri Castle, taste local delicacies and shop for souvenirs. For me, the more exciting adventure would come the next day in Miyakojima.
With its unspoilt white-sand beaches, azure waters and coral reefs teeming with life, it’s no exaggeration to call Miyakojima Island, which lies south-west of Okinawa Island, a slice of paradise. Snorkelling and diving are highly recommended to see the fascinating underwater world. But if you can’t swim or prefer to stay dry, a ride on the Sea-Sky Hakuai semi-submersible vessel, which is a part of the Southern Miyakojima Island Tour, is the next best thing. Spotting colourful sea creatures is easy thanks to great visibility; and when the vessel glides over coral reefs, it’s almost as if you are swimming with the tiny fish that surround the ship.
Aside from the semi-submersible ride, the excursion includes visits to famous sights such as the photogenic Maehama Beach and Kurima Bridge, concluding with retail therapy. We were understandably spent by the time we returned on board. Thankfully, a pampering journey awaited us at the Crystal Life Spa.
With a menu full of dedicated rituals, Pevonia and Ling facials and body therapies, we had a hard time deciding which to pick. I opted for the Tropical Saltmousse Glow Scrub and Tropical Escape Crème Fraiche Body Mask, which turned out to be perfect choices after a day out as they left me completely refreshed afterwards. The scrub and mask are formulated with vitamin-rich tropical fruits such as pineapple and mango, nourishing the skin after the exfoliation. While my skin felt smooth and supple post treatment, my mind was also relaxed – my therapist was gentle and explained each step clearly, ensuring multiple visits to the shower were hassle free.
For head-to-toe pampering, the Romance Tropical Ritual includes these two treatments plus a welcome foot ritual and Pevonia Fresh & Calm facial, which is great for moisturising and soothing sensitive skin. Add an eye care treatment, such as the Pevonia Cryo-Collagen Eye Contour, to give your complexion a rejuvenating boost.
The spa on Deck 15 boasts more than 20 treatment rooms – book a couples’ treatment room if you can because it’s a lot more spacious and has a wonderful sea view – and thermal facilities like sauna and vitality pool. It’s located right next to the Gentlemen’s Barber and Le Salon, where hair spa treatments, make-up, mani and pedi services are provided (the 90-minute Champagne & Pearl Pedicure is truly indulgent). On Deck 5 is the Crystal Life Asian Spa, which spans over 1,000sqm and offers Chinese meridian massage, reflexology, as well as sauna, steam, vitality pool and thermal lounger. For innovative beauty treatments such as laser and mesotherapy, visit Crystal Life Wellness on the same deck.
We left the spa feeling energised, but it was time to refuel. Genting Dream features more than 35 F&B concepts showcasing an array of Asian and international cuisines. Near the spa is Crystal Life Cuisine where light meals, fresh juice and smoothies are served. The green mango smoothie was refreshing following a long day in the sun and a spa treatment.
We would have sampled some of the healthy snacks, but had a dinner booking at Silk Road, the cruise’s signature Chinese restaurant. Ideal for families and groups of friends, dishes are meant to be shared and a personal favourite is the grilled Ishigaki beef, which tasted divine with its incredible melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Also serving Ishigaki beef is the Japanese restaurant Umi Uma, which includes a sushi bar and teppanyaki tables. Teppanyaki is especially popular and should be reserved in advance, as each table can only sit eight. If you manage to make a booking, you’ll see why it’s a must – the food is, of course, superb; but it is the chef’s playful display of skills that makes the experience unforgettable.
For something western, Bistro by Mark Best is the place to go. The celebrity chef has crafted a creative menu of contemporary western cuisine, from casual favourites like gourmet burgers, to seasonal dishes showcasing seafood and Miyakojima beef.
Everyone defines a perfect getaway differently: for some it means a do-nothing holiday, while some like to fill their days with activities, and yet others prefer a balance of relaxation and excitement. The beauty of a cruise holiday is that no matter your preference, you can design the experience exactly as you like given the numerous options. As for me, lounging beside my loved one after the exhilaration of the ‘Dream Night’ party which ended with fireworks, watching the shimmering crests and enjoying silence interrupted only by crashing waves, are what make it perfect. www.dreamcruiseline.com
Genting Dream will make Singapore its home port from December this year, offering different cruise itineraries visiting destinations including North Bali, Surabaya, Phuket, Penang and Kuala Lumpur.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Enjoy the serenity of being at sea, or join a pool party – there is something for everyone on board Genting Dream; teppanyaki at Umi Uma is a must; savour fusion cusine at the Genting Club restaurant