The best fun ever
Apart from one Hurtigruten voyage my previous exp of cruising has been with P&O, Cunard etc., furthermore I have never before done a group tour, so I approached this holiday with much trepidation. Having immediately followed this trip with another tour, I realise that the people you get to travel with are a very important part of the holiday and in this instance they were wonderful so, of course, this means my review is probably biased as I had such a happy time but I will try to be objective. The landbased parts of the tour were based at superb hotels and the various tours all interesting and enjoyable, especially an overnighter on a junk in Halong Bay. Once on board the AmaLotus the pace changed. Amongst the inclusive shore excursions were An oxcart ride through a village, in depth food market tours, orphanage visit and a memorable time in Phnom Penh. The guides who travelled with us were very well informed, spoke excellent english and filled our heads and hearts with personal anecdotes and background about the local people and customs, daily life and their recent traumatic history. They were all good and mostly brilliant. A worthwhile innovation is the use of little headsets which we all wore on tours. Tis meant that everyone could hear clearly and we didnt have to bunch up or risk getting left behind. On board the tour manager/cruise director kept everything running smoothly, the evening entertainment was basic - a piano player/guitarist/singer who wasnt bad after a few of the inclusive drinks and did get us dancing on a couple of nights; a crew show that was hilariously bad and one night watching a dry documentary about Pol Pot that sent many to sleep. That said, after a busy day mostly we were ready for bed early and nothing beats sitting on deck discussing the day weve had. The food was average. There was plenty of choice and quantity but the chef was a little too ambitious. Another review pointed out that there was no provision for snacks outside of mealtimes, I honestly never even noticed this. The onboard massage therapists were excellent and quite reasonably priced, there were three girls for a hundred passengers which seemed plenty as no one had trouble getting appointments and some of us managed to squeeze in multiple visits. Cabins were pretty, functional and comfortable. A big deal is made in the brochure about balconies but be warned they are tiny and also house the aircon units so are generally far too hot to sit out on but useful for drying clothes. My friend had a suite but thought it an awful waste of money although the bed position made for beautiful and relaxed sunrise/sunset views. In conclusion, its not the most luxurious vessel afloat, much less so than I expected from the brochure, but it was a fantastic holiday and quite definitely my favourite cruise ever.
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