LUX­URY AT SEA

What is it like to set sail aboard a lux­ury cruise liner? Of­fer­ing ev­ery con­ceiv­able com­fort on board, the Gent­ing Dream of­fers hol­i­day­mak­ers an es­cape like no other.

Marwar - - Contents - Text Sneha Ma­hale

What is it like to set sail aboard a lux­ury cruise liner? Of­fer­ing ev­ery con­ceiv­able com­fort on board, the Gent­ing Dream of­fers hol­i­day­mak­ers an es­cape like no other.

The ex­pe­ri­ence starts be­fore you step on board with a colour­ful piece of hull art­work, cre­ated by Chi­nese popartist Jacky Tsai, wel­com­ing you.

We have just ar­rived at the Kai Tak Cruise Ter­mi­nal in Hong Kong, sleep­less af­ter tak­ing a late-night flight from Mum­bai and then spend­ing the day soak­ing in the en­chant­ing sights and cap­ti­vat­ing sounds of a city fa­mously known across the globe as the ‘Pearl of the Ori­ent’. The pala­tial 1,51,300-tonne Gent­ing Dream now waits to whisk us on a two-night voy­age into the high seas.

In the de­tails

The 335-me­tre, 18-deck ves­sel marks the launch of Dream Cruises, Asia’s first home-grown lux­ury cruise line. Pur­pose-built for the Asian mar­ket at the Lloyd Werft Bre­mer­haven ship­yard in Ger­many, the Gent­ing Dream de­buted in Novem­ber 2016. Her sis­ter ship World Dream is sched­uled to launch in Novem­ber 2017.

A con­stant theme runs through the liner, cen­tred on an emo­tive jour­ney of love be­tween a mer­maid and an as­tro­naut. You see it in the hull art, a piece ti­tled Voy­age of a Lover’s Dream. The ethe­real story of the lovers comes to the fore again with the ship’s sig­na­ture pro­duc­tion bear­ing the same name. It even finds a place on some of the de­signer cut­lery. Guests are also con­stantly en­cour­aged to ex­plore the ship to find the spot where the two meet af­ter over­com­ing their ob­sta­cles (no spoil­ers here!).

Go­ing by the theme, it be­comes ap­par­ent that the team be­hind the uber-luxe ves­sel clearly had en­vis­aged an ethe­real and fan­tas­ti­cal jour­ney for guests—one where all their dreams would come true. The ship also com­bines the essence of Ori­en­tal cul­ture with pop­u­lar el­e­ments of the West. To this end, the Gent­ing Dream fea­tures the com­fort of Asian hos­pi­tal­ity, pooled with the finest ex­pe­ri­ences from around the world. On of­fer is ev­ery con­ceiv­able on-board fa­cil­ity, from a John­nie Walker House to two state-of-the-art sub­mersibles that take guests to ex­plore the deep seas.

Bed and board

We make our way to our room on Deck 11 with help from the staff. Nav­i­gat­ing a mas­sive ship takes some get­ting used to, but help is al­ways at hand. The staff hands out in­struc­tions like pros, seem­ingly used to giv­ing direc­tions to lost-look­ing pas­sen­gers. We too find our way. The ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions aboard Gent­ing Dream re­flect both size and choice for trav­ellers. The two ‘Gar­den Pen­t­houses’ come re­plete with orig­i­nal con­tem­po­rary art­work, a whirlpool, a pri­vate sun deck and a grand pi­ano, of­fer­ing guests the ul­ti­mate lux­ury cruise ex­pe­ri­ence. The Dream Man­sion fea­tures two floors of lav­ish suites, with Euro­pean-style butler ser­vice and spe­cial guest ex­pe­ri­ences. Over 70 per cent of its state­rooms of­fer pri­vate bal­conies, and there are more than 100 con­nect­ing rooms to cater to ex­tended fam­i­lies.

Look­ing around

Once set­tled in, we won­der, what ex­actly does one do on board a lux­ury cruise liner! The op­tions, as it turns out, are aplenty. As we set sail and the il­lu­mi­nated Hong Kong sky­line be­gins to slip away, we be­gin our ex­plo­ration of what is to be our home for the next two days. Food­ies can make their way to any of the 35 restau­rant and bar con­cepts on board, in­clud­ing scenic al fresco din­ing fa­cil­i­ties, for a divine gas­tro­nom­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence. Op­tions range from Aus­tralian-style celebrity chef eatery ‘Bistro by Mark Best’ to Chi­nese fine din­ing of a de­cid­edly deca­dent flavour at the Silk Road. Later, you could head to a tra­di­tional English pub pre­dictably called Red Lion, or

in­dulge your pas­sion for the finer things of life at the world’s first John­nie Walker House at sea. Wannabe con­nois­seurs could ad­di­tion­ally learn the art of mak­ing cock­tails or at­tend a whisky ap­pre­ci­a­tion work­shop.

For those who pre­fer to spend time out­doors, there are six wa­ter­slides on the top deck. One could also soak in the sun in open-air swim­ming pools or Jacuzzis, with Can­topop (or HK-pop) bands per­form­ing on an ad­ja­cent stage. At night, guests can par­take in some glow bowl­ing, or tee off on the mini golf course in the day, or en­joy a game of bas­ket­ball with the fam­ily or fel­low guests. Oth­er­wise, one could im­press folks back home by tak­ing bachata or ball­room danc­ing lessons. The more ad­ven­tur­ous could try rock climb­ing, or at­tend a ropes course and zip line along the side of the 18-storey-high ship.

The fun con­tin­ues at the Zouk, a night­club which comes to life at sun­set with live guest artistes and DJ per­for­mances. Other on-board en­ter­tain­ment op­tions in­clude the first China’s Got Tal­ent show at sea, a 45-minute the­atri­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the hit TV se­ries. Al­ter­na­tively, one could catch the pro­duc­tion, Voy­age of a Lover’s Dream. Both are held at the Zo­diac Theatre, the cruise ship’s 999-seat sta­teof-the-art live per­for­mance venue. Guests can also watch the lat­est 3D block­buster movies on board.

Luck by chance

Away from the world of fun and en­ter­tain­ment, there are casi­nos to try one’s luck at and a mahjong room too! Well­ness seek­ers will not be dis­ap­pointed by the spa fa­cil­i­ties on board (by Crys­tal Life) that cater to both Asian and Western guests. That apart, there are five pri­vate karaoke rooms for pa­trons to sing their hearts out, a high­end art gallery fea­tur­ing the works of renowned artists and over 1,100 sqm of re­tail space for duty-free shop­ping. The bou­tiques sell de­signer prod­ucts that range from watches to hand­bags from renowned brands such as Cartier, Swarovski, Michael Kors and Chanel, among oth­ers, to the dis­cern­ing trav­eller.

But ul­ti­mately what stands out is the warm Asian hos­pi­tal­ity. As soon as the large cruise ship sets sail, guests ex­pect to be pam­pered, and they aren’t let down. At­ten­tion is paid to the small­est de­tail. Though lan­guage can be a prob­lem at times (the staff mainly speak Can­tonese), a warm smile puts you at ease in­stantly, as you are at­tended to. Be­fore long, you are back to mak­ing the most of your time on the lux­u­ri­ous float­ing re­sort at sea.

Be­low right: Dream Deluxe Suite Bot­tom left: Zouk Beach Club Bot­tom right: A dish served at Bistro by Mark Best Fac­ing page: The Gent­ing Dream

Clock­wise from top left: Gent­ing Club Casino; Crys­tal Life Asian Spa Lounge; The sig­na­ture pro­duc­tion Voy­age of a Lover’s Dream

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