Peter Lynch discovers the joys of having a butler on a Þve-day cruise through Southeast Asia.
We’ve never arrived at an immigration counter in such style. It’s early morning, and Genting Dream is disembarking about 4,000 passengers, including many families with gangs of adrenalin-charged children.
Singapore’s usually well-oiled welcome is wilting. But for us, there is no queueing. Our fabulous Dream Cruises butler Josip is walking us right up to the counter, balancing our bags with good humour and apologetic that he can’t actually sweep us past the uniformed officials.
Josip is a blond, six-foot-four Croatian wearing full tail-coat, waistcoat and tie. He’s hard to miss in the throng of Asian passengers. We feel like movie stars. It’s the perfect end to five days in which Josip managed to make himself an indispensable part of our lives.
“Josip, we need tickets for tonight’s show,” we’d say halfway through the day. No problem. And there he would be at the theatre entrance, beaming like Bertie Wooster’s Jeeves, ready to conduct us to our seats.
At breakfast, he helped families feed their kids with a mix of dumplings and baked beans. At dinner, he was ready with recommendations and a quiet word to the maître d’.
How did we ever cruise without him? More importantly, how could we smuggle him through Australian immigration?
Asia’s first luxury cruise ship is now homeported in Singapore, and is proving a big draw card for a country determined to make itself Asia’s cruse hub.
Launched onto the market last year, Genting
Dream is full to the brim of fabulous places to relax and indulge. She boasts magnificent suites in The Palace – the VIP ship-within-aship area – 35 restaurants, a Penfolds vault and a Johnny Walker whisky bar, water slides, a bowling alley, a poolside cinema, two enormous spas (one Asian, one European) and the massive Zouk nightclub.
But there is more to the Dream experience than butlers and fine dining.
It’s a United Nations at sea. Indian families, Indonesians and Straits Chinese are the vast majority of the ship’s compliment during our cruise. And as families rubbed shoulders in the Jacuzzi or pool, it was amazing to see this cultural melting pot at work.
One contingent of Chinese was celebrating their grandparent’s 40th wedding anniversary, 20 family members from octogenarians to toddlers sporting red “Our Family First” t-shirts.
Dream Cruises now has two ships – near identical twins – allowing Genting Dream to be based year-round in Singapore while sistership World Dream calls Hong Kong home.
Australians and New Zealanders are a target for the line that boasts it can provide a true East-meets-West experience. The enormous growth of fly-cruise and easy access to Singapore – one of Australia’s favourite destinations – makes Dream Cruises a new and different alternative to the already successful Singapore fly-cruise market.
The line is making some mouth-watering offers. Our cruise had a smattering of Aussie early adopters in the Dream Palace. Jasmine, a caterer from Perth, bought tickets at half price and was loving every minute.
We met her at the teppanyaki table. “Please don’t make too much of a fuss of this,” she begged. “We don’t want everyone back home to know how good it is!” Sorry Jasmine. We just let the cat out of the bag.
So what can Aussie or NZ cruisers expect from this fascinating floating melting pot? A cruise full of surprises, that’s for sure. There’s never a dull moment aboard Genting Dream.
You can be at a top Broadway show one minute, and a naughty topless night club review the next. You can witness the winners of
China’s Got Talent (some of the most amazing acrobats we’ve ever seen), and a bizarre night market where instant noodles jostle with classy watches and handbags. The one thing
Genting Dream doesn’t do is boring.
Our cruise to Phuket took place during schools holidays. So there were plenty of families with kids. But there were still places to spend some tranquil down-time.
Genting Dream sails five-day itineraries to Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Phuket or Surabaya and North Bali.
Here’s our verdict on a fascinating Southeast Asian odyssey.
Welcome to the Genting Dining Room