2024 "The Magic of Asia" Cruise Log

You may need to refresh your browser for updates

Written from newest to oldest (except Prologue)


Monday, February 19
Manila, Philippines

It was up at 7:00 for our 9:00 “Charms of Old Manila” excursion:

Explore sites that reveal Manila’s tumultuous past, many of them within the Intramuros district, which is enclosed within a thick wall that the Spanish built in the 1500s. Here, you will tour notorious Fort Santiago, where prisoners were once held and tortured. Look for the symbolic bronzed footsteps of Dr. Jose Rizal, a national hero who was imprisoned in the fortress before walking to his execution, the penalty for his anti-colonial writings. You will discover more about the city at Casa Manila, a replica of a lavish Spanish colonial house decorated with period furniture. It was built as a pet project of the Philippines’ former first lady Imelda Marcos. You will also visit Agustin, a World Heritage site church constructed in 1606. Its baroque altar is particularly stunning. Following a photo stop at Rizal Park, you will see the luxurious Manila Hotel that General Douglas MacArthur used as his command post during much of World War I.

We were supposed to have a jeepney tour today, but that got cancelled before we left for the cruise, so we had to reschedule to this tour which covered most of what the other tour was to have covered.
This was probably one of the most boring tours I have taken. At the fort, there was not a lot to see and what was supposed to be a 15 minute stop turned into an hour and a half, a lot of the time waiting for the bus to return. The church was interesting, but too much time there too. The shopping stop was just an antique store where nobody bought anything. I skipped the park and stayed on the bus as there was only a monument to see, and at the hotel, which was supposed to be a 10 minute stop, it turned into a half hour of looking at the lobby. We got back over an hour later than scheduled. We have yet to have a tour end on time. Not a good reflection of the destination department that lays out the schedule and times. Also one of the problems is that if there are a lot of guests that want one particular tour, there may be 4-5 busses all going to the same place at the same time. This causes crowding at the stops and also when you return, all the people on those busses all try to go to lunch at the same time and the restaurant gets overcrowded and there are not enough tables to handle everyone. Today upon return, we lucked out and found a table that had to be re-set for us, and then other people were getting mad because they could not find a table to sit at.
After lunch, I went up to the top deck for an hour of sun. It is still quite warm. Today was in the 90’s. Matt stayed in the cabin. I then went out on our balcony on our long lounge in the shade to play some Sudoku.
We had no internet during the stay at the port, so could not do anything on the computer.
We then fell into our pattern of dinner in Compass Rose followed by our nightly visit to the casino.


Sunday, February 18
Coron, Philippines

Up at 7:00 and shortly after we were greeted into the port with a drum corps, flag girl and baton twirlers on the pier. If passengers on the ship were not up yet, they certainly were when all the drums started. We went to breakfast in La Veranda before our 10:00 “Snorkeling Adventure” excursion:

 

Snorkel two reefs and a sunken shipwreck teeming with marine life before relaxing on a beach that precipitous limestone cliffs shelter. You will reach the sites on an outrigger boat that will make the adventure all the more enjoyable. There is no telling what you will observe just off Balinsasayaw Resort although tropical

fish are especially abundant. Twin Peaks Reef is another favorite snorkeling spot where you may see an even greater variety of marine creatures. Graceful stingrays, bi-colored parrotfish and scissortail sergeant majors are commonly seen around the coral reef. Then, there is Skeleton Wreck, a snorkeling and dive site named for the skeletal remains of a World War II Japanese gunboat. It lies in about 15 feet of water. A bit farther down the coast, you will stop at Beach 91, a beautiful stretch of sand that invites relaxing and doing nothing more ambitious than basking in the sun.


This was one of the better excursions that we have taken and it got better as we went along. We started at the wreck, went to the “beach”, where there was no way to bask in the sun, the nice snorkeling off the resort, and the best, the twin peaks reef which had some of the best coral we have ever seen.

Back to the ship at 2:00 and lunch on the pool deck before going back to the room where I went out on our balcony and Matt did some self laundry.
The tailor showed up and did my pants measurement. They will be back tomorrow.

Dinner was in Compass Rose followed by, you’ve got it, the casino, where we broke even.


Saturday, February 17
Sea Day

Last night we turned the clocks ahead one hour, losing an hour of sleep. We were up at 8:00 and had breakfast before the required “Quarantine Inspection” by the Philippine Government. This meant that every passenger had to go up to the Observation Lounge, check in and walk by an infrared camera. It was a process that took all of 5 minutes.
We then went back to our cabin to send out laundry, something we do every day, as Regent offers free laundry service to all passengers. If we did not have the 3-day pre-cruise and post-cruise, we would not have to pack as many socks and underwear as we did. One could get by with 3 pair (2 if you work it right). We also made our menu choices for our return flights next month. It is nice to be able to choose some things that are not available if you don’t make the choices ahead of time.
Bingo followed with no wins for us. Then lunch, which had a Chinese theme, then an hour of sun for me and movie for Matt.
The casino was open this afternoon, so we decided to visit. No win.
Rest time followed while we waited for dinner. Tonight, dinner was in Chartreuse, the French restaurant. Nothing really exciting for me there, but it was fine.
We went to the casino (no win) and called it a night.
Just another sea day.


Friday, February 16
Nha Trang, Vietnam

We both awoke at 6:30 for some reason, so really took our time in getting breakfast and ready for our 9:30 tour. As we are anchored, we watched them put the tenders in the water and they were bouncing a bit, so we doubted we were going to be able to go ashore. Shortly after, the announcement came that we were indeed going.
Our tour was “A Guided Pedicab Ride through Nha Trang”:

 

Sit back in the comfort of a pedicab and ride through the enchanting streets of Nha Trang, taking in the most remarkable sights along the way. With a routing map in hand and wearing headphones to hear the enlightening narration, you will follow the guide in your individual pedicab through the city’s most scenic

areas. Tran Phu, a pine-shaded boulevard that hugs the beach, is one of the favorite and most picturesque locales. The exact route will depend on traffic conditions, but you can expect to view a variety of attractions that you may wish to visit later on your own, including restaurants, shops and museums. Photo stops will be made at the most significant points of interest. Upon reaching the bustling Dam market, you will be transferred back to the ship or you may remain to shop and return later on your own.


The pedicabs were one person per bike. You sit in the front and your driver is behind you. They use a modified electric bike, so they don’t have to peddle a lot. My driver was a bit aggressive and liked to ride up on the pedicab in front of us, but he never hit it, nor any cars that we swerved around. There were about 60 of us all lined up back-to-back down the streets of the city. Our tour guide did the narration through small walkie talkie type devices, but he was at the rear of all the pedicabs and we were in the front, so whatever he was explaining, we had passed several minutes before.
At the market, we looked for shirts for me as the other 2 we bought in Cambodia were shrunk in the laundry. We have not found anything that we like.
We got back to the ship around 12:30 and had lunch before I went out in the sun for another hour and Matt did the bookkeeping of our account. They do things weird on the ship and he wanted to make sure they had everything right. That took him some time and even having to go to the front desk to see what some of our credits were. They are not described on what we see on the TV.
Now it’s not only that I spend an hour or two tanning (any more and it would be sunburn time), but I am also listening to Jon Cryer’s Book “So That Happened” via Audible. It is read by Jon. If you are a fan, it is quite enjoyable.
Back to the room for a bit of a rest before dinner. Made a call to the front desk to make an appointment with the onboard tailor to hem a pair of pants. I was told that they do not have a tailor onboard. On our way to dinner, I ran into the General Manager who told me that the tailor would be onboard in 3 days.
We had dinner in the Main Dining Room and then off to the casino.
Matt went to the production show while I went back to the room.


Thursday, February 15
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Everybody up at 5:45 with room service breakfast at 6:30 in preparation for today’s 7:30 excursion, “Highlights of Saigon”:

Gain an overall understanding of Saigon through landmark architecture that reflects the changing face of the metropolis known as Ho Chi Minh City since 1976.

In the lively Chinatown district of Cholon, you will find Giac Lam, the city’s oldest pagoda. A haven of tranquility where Taoism and Confucianism merge with Buddhism, the pagoda compound includes ornate tombs, a rare bodhi tree and an elegant statue of the Goddess of Mercy. For a more contemporary perspective, you will view Independence Palace, also known as the Reunification Palace, a modernistic white building that was home to the president of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon presents a glimpse into colonial life, as the French constructed it in the mid-1800s. The ornate Central Post Office is another French-built colonial gem. If not for the large portrait of Ho Chi Minh inside, you might think you were in Paris.

 

The excursion was quite nice although I wish that when passengers are told that it is a 15 minute stop, they would be back on the bus in 15 minutes. We seem to lose 15-20 minutes at each stop making the next one even shorter. This excursion did offer a variety of things to see, although, we did have to miss the pagoda. Also included in the tour was a stop at the large market where we were given 20 minutes to shop.
Back on the ship, we had lunch in Prime 7. They now rotate lunches in one of the restaurants each day, offering a variety of choices.
At 2:00, departed the pier and the Captain told us that we will be encountering winds and that he doubts that we will be able to anchor in Nah Trang, Vietnam tomorrow, which means we will most likely have 2 sea days in a row.
After lunch, I went up on the top deck for an hour of sun while Matt watched a movie.
We then went to the “Top Tier” event for passengers with many days of traveling with Regent. This included performances by members of the Production Team. This was followed by dinner in Sette Mari (La Veranda is turned into an Italian style restaurant in the evenings). Dinner was only fair. My veal scaloppini was tough and Matt’s golden fried chicken cutlet was not fried, had a weird texture and the tomato sauce was “horrible”. We will not be going back there for dinner again.
We went back to the room where Matt watched another movie and I did some computer work.


Wednesday, February 14
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

We got up at 6:30 and had breakfast before our 9:00 “Mekong River Delta” excursion:

Experience the rural lifestyle in the fertile Mekong Delta, much of which you will traverse by boat. As an introduction to the local culture, you will first visit Vinh Trang, an ornate temple surrounded by meticulously manicured gardens full of ornamental shrubbery and bonsai trees. Despite its beauty, the flora is no match for the fecundity of the Mekong Delta, where you will cruise pass terraced rice paddies, seemingly endless fruit orchards and fields of soybeans and sugarcane.

For a closer look at village life, you will disembark on Thoi Son Island and interact with the locals. While enjoying a cup of honey tea and a selection of fresh fruits, you watch a folkloric music performance. A traditional lunch of dishes such as elephant ear fish and grilled pork follows, after which you will return to the

water; this time on a wooden sampan identical to the ones used to transport fruit through the canals.

 

This tour began with an hour forty five minute bus ride to My Tho City, with a 30 minute visit to the Viny Trang Pagoda. Then it was a short drive to the boat pier for our short ride on the Mekong River. These were covered boats to get from the mainland to an island.  We then went to a village for an hour to see how honey items were made, how coconut candy was made and to listen to a few songs. We then went on a canal ride on sampans, uncovered 4 man boats with 2 oars people guiding our way through the small canal (and hitting other boats). At least the canal had a canopy of palms, so that kept us out of the sun. Back to our main covered boat and off to our lunch venue. They served Elephant Ear Fish, Ribs and chicken. Back to the covered boat to get to our bus, then a 2 and a half hour ride back to the ship. What was supposed to be a 5 ½ hour tour turned into 7. I am hitting long excursion burn out


We were going to go to the “Grand Deck BBQ” on the pool deck, but because we were tired, we took our time getting ready and had a nice dinner in the Compass Rose Restaurant. We did go up to the pool deck for desert. This was followed by a folkloric show in the theater. We had originally scheduled an evening excursion to a folkloric show in town, but the timing did not work out to be able to even have dinner before and it was a 3 hour event. Many onboard complained, so they added the show in the theater so those who wanted could cancel and still see a folkloric show.

That finished at 10:15, so that was enough for the day.
If I get my energy back, I’ll do tomorrow’s excursion, otherwise it may be a forced “sea day” for me.

 

 

 


Tuesday, February 13
Sea Day

Finally another day to relax!
We got up around 7:00 and took our time to get ready for breakfast in La Veranda.
The ocean is more of a brownish color here than the blue we are used to seeing on cruises.
As I mentioned, it was a relaxing morning with really nothing that had to be done (other than getting our daily laundry out). We played Bingo at 11:00 (where Matt won a game) and then went to lunch in Compass Rose with Neil and Massi. New to Regent is the opening of one of the specialty restaurants for lunch. It is on a rotating basis and just gives another option of a menu driven venue rather than the buffet. We will be trying that out one day.”
Today was Tex-Mex day by the pool. We skipped that, but found out that Compass Rose was mostly Tex-Mex also. They should at least offer different things in there rather than being the same as outside.
Afternoon brought my tanning time. The main pool deck was completely full, so I went to the infinity pool at the back of the ship and found a spot in the sun. The wind has started to come up and we are finally rocking just a little bit.  Meanwhile, Matt went to the cabin to watch a movie.
I did get a little red in the face. The sun here is intense.
Tonight was the Seven Seas Society Cocktail Party. This is for those who have been on the ship at least 21 nights. They break down how many people are in each level of the society.

The breakdown:
Silver (21-74 nights): 277
Gold (75-199 nights): 153
Platinum (200-399 nights: Matt is in this category): 56
Titanium (400-999 nights: I am in this category): 29
Diamond (1,000-1,999 nights): 1
Commodore (2,000+ nights): 1

After the party, we had dinner with Neil, Massi and Bruce Van Rooyen (the ships Cruise Consultant) at Prime 7.
Because we are so close to the shoreline of Vietnam, the casino was closed for the night, so Matt went to see the performer in the theater. She is doing an opera/broadway show. Meanwhile, I went back to the cabin to do this.


Monday, February 12
Sihanoukville, Cambodia

I got up at 6:30 to watch the Super Bowl. Although there was a “Tailgate Breakfast Buffet Party” right before the game in the atrium, I did not attend. They did show the game in the theater and also on TV in the cabins. I decided that watching in our room was easier.
We got our laundry back and the 2 shirts that we bought no longer fit me (they shrunk). They now belong to Matt.
We had 2 excursions today. The first was a short 1 hour tour of the area, “Sihanoukville By Open-Air Vehicle. It began at 10:30:

Sit back in the comfort of a tuk-tuk and zip through the streets of Sihanoukville, taking in the most historical and culturally important attractions. From inside the tuk-tuk mini-car, you will enjoy a street-level view of the city highlights while listening to commentary that describes them. After passing a sugar-white beach

shaded by palm trees, you will see the Golden Lion Monument in the center of a roundabout and learn what its statue of crouching lions represents and how it became a symbol of the city. You will also pass Phsar Leu, a market with more than 1,000 vendors offering most everything imaginable. Chances are, the enticing aroma of food cooking on braziers will be wafting through the air. Toward the end of the tuk-tuk tour, you will pass the city’s somber War Memorial in Independence Square.


It is interesting that the description of the tour given to us on the ship states that we would be making short stops at 4 of the sites. We did not. It was just a ride through the city. It was hard to see or even take pictures out of the tuk-tuk. I told Matt that it would have been easier to sit on the floor and see out rather than leaning down all the time. While we were out, a family of 3 on a motorcycle stopped at a stop light next to us. The father was in front, mother in the back and a girl, about 4, in the middle. She looked over at me, I waved, and she had the brightest smile I have ever seen and a little wave. It made the tour.
We got back at 11:45 and had lunch in La Veranda before our next tour, “ Ream National Park By Boat” which began at 1:30:

 

Spend a magical day exploring Ream National Park, a wonderland of evergreen forests and mangrove swamps teeming with wildlife. Established by Cambodia’s former King Sihanouk, the park provides a protected environment for animals such as birds and monkeys. Your exploration of the park will begin with a boat ride down the mangrove-lined Prek Toeuk Sap River. Watch for flying fish and dolphin breaking the water’s surface, and birds such as Brahminy kites, grey-headed fish-eagles and white-bellied sea eagles in the estuary. Storks and egrets usually congregate along the mudflats here. You will spend the next few hours on a guided walk through the woods, where you will likely see monkeys in the trees, butterflies flitting around the path and even more birds, as at

least 150 avian species thrive here. You will also tour a village in the park and relax on an unspoiled beach nearby.


No animals were spotted during the tour…a disappointment to Matt. The tour also lasted 45 minutes longer than expected which made us hurry to meet new friends for dinner at 6:30. I made it just in time…Matt was 15 minutes behind me.

Very nice dinner, then off to the casino for some fun. Came out even tonight.
Back to the room to relax and get ready for a full sea day tomorrow.


Sunday, February 11
Bangkok, Thailand

Up at 7:00, breakfast in La Veranda, then off at 9:30 to the Pattaya Floating Market:

 

Get a genuine feel for river life by exploring the Pattaya floating market, which vendors in small wooden boats supply with all sorts of local goods. The market is divided into four sections, each representing a different region of Thailand. Although just opened in 2008, the market looks much older as it was designed to replicate an ancient floating market, most of which have long been abandoned. During free time at the market, you might sample items such as dragon fruit and mangosteen—the national fruit of Thailand—and linger over a freshly prepared lunch that is characteristic of one of the four regions. With so many aromas enticingly wafting through the air, it will be hard to resist dining. But the floating market offers much more than food. You will also find unusual handicrafts,

silverware, handmade bags and silk clothing. The atmosphere couldn’t be more inviting. Browse the incredible array of merchandise at the Pattaya floating market.


Not the most exciting spot. Just think flea market along a wooden walkway near a man-made canal. We were there for an hour and a half, then the 1 hour bus ride back. It’s funny how sometimes an hour and a half goes by quicky and other times where it seems like a half a day. This was the latter. We did buy 2 shirts and a framed Eliza (“King and I”) enamel charm.

Lunch was going to be in La Veranda, but the selection was poor, so we ordered from the pool grill. Matt got a burger and I picked the Cuban Panini.
I then went out by the pool for some sun time while Matt watched TV and washed the shirts we purchased at the Market.
Dinner was in the Compass Rose. The food quality really has not been the best. It’s ok, but not as good as in the past. The “salt sticks” which used to be my favorite item on the ship has been changed to a different dough. Just not as good. It seems that they are also lacking seasoning on many of the items. We followed dinner by a visit to the casino where we came out about even and then to bed.


Saturday, February 10
Bangkok, Thailand

We were up at 6:30 for an 8:30 tour. Because there is another ship in our docking area and will not be moving until 8:00, we are not able to port until 8:30. This pushes everything by one half hour. We are really porting in Laem Chabang, Thailand, which is 2 ½ hours away from Bangkok, so we have a long drive to get to Bangkok for the actual tour, which is “Bangkok In A Day”:

 

Gain insight into life in Bangkok, past and present, by cruising the meandering Chao Phraya River and intersecting canals and then visiting key landmarks.

During the cruise, you will see houses on stilts, floating grocery stores and water taxis zipping about. Few experiences offer such a candid look at life on

Bangkok’s waterways. In time, you will arrive at Wat Arun, the glorious Temple of Dawn, whose main spire soars more than 200 feet into the air. A traditional

Thai lunch follows, after which you will explore the Grand Palace, an extraordinary example of an ancient Siamese court. Thailand’s kings lived here for more

than 150 years, and today it is used primarily for royal ceremonies and state occasions. You will also visit the Emerald Buddha Temple within the palace

complex. It holds a 14th-century statue of Buddha that was carved from a single piece of emerald-green jasper.

We did not get out of to the busses until 9:45 and it was indeed, a 2 ½ hour bus ride to Bangkok. Upon arrival, we boarded the river boat and cruised the canal for a bit and then the rain hit. It became a downpour and almost blocked our view across the river. They had to put the tarps down on the side of the boat, so we could not see out and things became very humid.
As we got near the Wat Arun, everyone decided that we would just skip it as it was still pounding rain, and move on to lunch.
This was a wonderful buffet at a hotel and we had one hour there.
We re-boarded our bus and went to the Grand Palace. We arrived just before they closed the gates at 3:30 PM, viewed the Emerald Buddah, then given a quick tour of grounds.
At 4:30, we started heading back to the ship. Being Chinese New Year, the freeway was jammed. Our guide said that there are really 3 days where things happen. Day 1: Purchase gifts for family members. Day 2: Stay home and pray. Day 3: Travel to visit with family. We are on day 3. It took us until 8:00 to get back.
The restaurant, La Veranda, was open for us with an “International Buffet”. That consisted of Chinese food and pasta. It looked as though it had been sitting there all day. We tried a bit and decided to go back to our room and order food from Compass Rose.
We had had enough for the day and just stayed in our cabin.


Friday, February 9
Ko Samui, Thailand

We awoke at 6:00 and had breakfast at 8:00 in La Veranda before meeting in the theatre to get our excursion tickets and boarding a tender. The process was much better than past cruises as they had things under control.
The problem was, it’s a tender port and that makes things go slowly. In fact, they were just over an hour behind. Our 9:00 tender boarding time was pushed to 10:15.
It was a 30 minute tender ride to the dock at Ko Samui.
Our bus was waiting, and we were off on the “Ancient Temples and Monkeys” tour. Here is the description:

Delve into the spiritual side of Ko Samui by visiting three prominent temples or wats and then enjoy a lighter moment by watching trained monkeys pick coconuts.
Although Khunaram Temple is rather modest, it still draws quite the crowd for its unusual, macabre display. A mummified Buddhist monk wearing sunglasses sits in a meditative pose in a glass case, as he requested in his final wishes. Although contemporary, the Big Buddha Temple is much more traditional, as its attractions are the namesake enormous statue of Buddha and a collection of huts for meditation. The depiction of Buddha laughing and the statue of the 18-armed goddess Guayin are more whimsical and colorful at Plai Laem, a contemporary temple in a tranquil, lakeside setting. The mood will be even lighter at a nearby plantation, where you will watch nimble monkeys assist with the production of coconuts by picking them from high in the trees.

The temples were not ancient, but very interesting. Our guide got a little slow, so Matt and I kind of ran ahead to get photos of things before there were people in the way. One stop not mentioned was a stop for free soda at the Coral Hotel. It was a nice excursion that ended at 3:30.
Once again aboard the tender and back to the ship just after 4:00. Matt ran our safari pants down the laundry room as we will need them again tomorrow. Days with visits to temples require long pants.
While he was doing that, I ordered room service, as all of the restaurants are closed at that time. There was a backup and delivery was 30 minutes.
We worked on photos and rested a bit before our 8:00 dinner back at Pacific Rim. We had made this reservation long ago, not knowing that Neil and Massi were going to make the reservations last night.

After dinner, we went the casino where we came out a bit ahead, then to bed, as we have a LONG excursion tomorrow.


Thursday, February 8
At Sea

We turned our clocks back one hour last night so we were supposed to get an extra hour of sleep. However, we were both up at 5:30, so we took our time getting ready. When the self laundry room opened at 7:00, I went down and ironed 3 shirts for the day for both of us. Then it was off to breakfast in La Veranda, back to the room, down to the computer room to print out our calendar, then to destinations at 9:00 when they opened. They had made a mistake and scheduled 2 of our excursions on one day both at the same time. I proved we had reserved a morning and an afternoon excursion. They got it corrected.
At 10:00, the boutique opened and Matt and I checked out their offerings.
11:00 was Bingo time and I ended up winning the last game (blackout) and won $167.40.
We had the buffet lunch, which was not that great.
I then went out on the upper deck to catch some sun. It is 85 degrees out with a bit of humidity, but the breeze of being at sea did help. Meanwhile, Matt went to the salon to purchase a few items.
Before we even came aboard the ship, we had to watch a safety video two times, then when you come on board, they now just show you where the muster station is and you are on your way.
Because we arrived on the ship late, they did not have anyone at the entrance of the ship to show us where the station was (although we knew) nor show anyone where to go on the ship to get to the elevators (we knew). So today we get a letter on our door at 2:00 saying we have to have a safety meeting at 5:00. Mind you, the Captains Reception is at 6:00. Matt went down to talk to the front desk and they said it a decision they made and that they would wait for everyone to arrive and then it would be a half hour drill.
Matt told her that it would not leave enough time to get cleaned up and dressed in time for the Reception. She did not care.
I went down and talked to the General Manager of the ship and told him the situation. He called the Safety Manager who confirmed the time. The GM was NOT happy with that decision and could not understand why they said it was going to be a half hour. He then told me to come with him. He took me down the staircase one floor, showed me the theater door and said “that’s your muster station”. Matt did not have to come down, and we are done with that. We feel sorry for the other 48 passengers who were on our pre-cruise that are still having to go at 5:00.
Back to the cabin at 3:15 and rested until we had to get ready for the evening’s activities.
I attended the Reception alone, as our laundry had not returned yet. When I came back to the cabin, Matt was sorting though all the clothes that had just been returned, We then had dinner at Pacific Rim, the Asian Restaurant, with Neil and Massi. Then it was off to the casino and then to bed.
Our first excursion takes place tomorrow. It is a tender port, so we shall see how that goes. Usually the process of getting everyone ready for their first excursion is a mess in the theater where we meet. Adding to that, being we all have to tender 30 minutes to get ashore, it should be very interesting.

 


Wednesday, February 7
Siem Reap/Bangkok/Singapore/Embarkation

Another early morning. We awoke at 4:30 as we both could not sleep. Got ready and went down to breakfast at 6:00. Back up to the room to gather our bags and met in the lobby for the bus ride to the airport.
It’s an hour drive, then the check-in. It is amazing how many times we have had to show our passport at this airport alone. Front entrance, check in, immigration, 3 times at the gate. Igot called back to security right after check-in and found out that they did not want my camera in the check-in bag. Took it out and all was ok. Through immigration quickly and then for the wait to board the plane.
It was a 9:10 boarding for a 9:50 flight which lasted just over an hour to get to Bangkok, where we had a 3 hour layover. Regent had arranged for all of us to use the Coral Lounge at the airport.
Boarding time for our flight to Singapore was 1:10 for our 1:50 flight. It was about 2 ½ hours in the air. Through immigration AGAIN. We are all getting tired of showing our passports.
Flight arrived at 5:10, through immigration, 1 hour bus ride to the ship and finally aboard at 7:10 PM.
I had to run down to the front desk to take care of a few things and have already run into Bruce, the cruise consultant and Andy Heath, our cruise director. Both remembered me from past cruises.
We met with our butler, Rigel, who is being WAY too formal for us. We are pretty relaxed about things in the room such as not having him set up a full table service for us. We prefer he just leave everything and we’ll take care of it. He is having a hard time not doing it. He still insists on calling us by our last names even though we have asked him to call us by our first. Don’t worry…we’ll break him.
We ordered room service dinner choosing items from Compass Rose, the main dining room and unpacked until 10:30. It’s hard to try to get the right things in the right drawers. I’m sure we’ll be adjusting things over the next few days.
Matt spent time getting our clothes ready to be sent out in the morning. We have 5 full bags to be either just pressed or laundered.
Finally, it’s time to get into relax mode. It sure as a “hurry, hurry, rush, rush pre-cruise, but I’m so glad we got to see Angkor Wat.
At least we turn the clocks back one hour tonight, so we can get an extra hour of sleep.


Tuesday, February 6
Siem Reap

We got up at 6:00 and before going down to breakfast, I bumped my leg on the corner of the wooden bed frame and started bleeding. Of course, we had no bandaids here as they are in our main bags back in Singapore. Thankfully, Neil and Massi are staying right across the hall from us and Matt was able to get one from them.
It was down to breakfast where we joined Neil and Massi.
Off on small busses (11 in ours) to Angkor Thom and the Banyon Temple where “Lara Craft, Tomb Ranger” was filmed.
The weather was hot even as we started the tour and only got hotter and more humid as the morning went on.
We then went to a local restaurant for a nice lunch and then to a store that was a tourist trap of imported items.
Scheduled next was a tour of the Satcha Project Center where young artisans are learning various crafts such as silk weaving, pottery, wood sculpturing, leather cutting and more. All of the other people on our tour bus took the option of going back to the hotel, which was on the way to the Center, leaving only Matt and I on the bus with the guide and driver. They took us to the center where they gave us a very quick overview of each craft as the artisans were working. We purchased 2 of the leather items. Although a visit to the Old Market was to also be included, we had purchased what we wanted and as it was close to the 3:00 return time, we decided to skip the market.
We had 3 hours of time to go back to the room to cool down and then it was time for the “Dinner and Cultural Show” that they do 3 times a week at the hotel. It was a very nice outdoor setting with areas where they displayed and offered appetizers (and bugs). Then came a display of ancient fighting, then everyone moved to the stage area where large tables were set for our dining. They began with a dance, then served a course, then another dance, another course and so on until a final dance after dessert. A nice way to end our visit to Cambodia. We will be back as part of the actual cruise later on.
Back to the room to pack for a full day of travel and embarkation tomorrow.


Monday, February 5
Siem Reap

We got up at 3:30AM and picked up our “bagged breakfast” at 5:00 (pastries, tea and water).
We met up with Neil and Massi from Australia. They have been on several cruises with us and we made plans weeks ago to have dinner together tonight at a steakhouse on the hotel property. At 5:40 we were off to the airport for our Singapore Air flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia. There are 54 people on this tour.
Arrived at the airport, ticketed and then went through their version of security which is to scan your passport, a camera takes your photo, and you are on your way. Very quick.
Through our American Express “Priority Pass” card we were able to go to the very nice SATS Lounge for the one hour wait to board the plane.
Because this is a group tour, we are in coach...Row 55, at the back  of the plane…and of course, I would end up in the center seat.
Boarding for the 8:40 flight began at 7:40, but because we were in group 5, and they boarded from the back forward,  there was no wait to get onboard.
With the one hour time change on the 2 hour flight, arrival in Siem Reap was at 9:45.
We were divided into 2 groups for the bus ride that went directly to the temple site to have our pictures taken for the visit to the temple later in the day. We then drove the 5 minutes to check in at the Borei Angkor Resort. It is a beautiful hotel/resort in the middle of a sketchy area of the city. The room is one of the best we have had on any of our pre or post hotels.
The decision was made that instead of starting our temple tour at 3:00 instead of 2:00, as the afternoon heat and humidity is a bit much in the early afternoon. The guide did mention that the heat wave started yesterday, of course. So, we had 3 hours to rest. We were both full from the food we ate at the airport lounge and the breakfast that was served on the plane.
At 3:00, we Took the bus to Ankgor Wat Temple. It was an amazing place. Only took 300,000 people to build. We climbed many stairs to get to the 3rd level of the site. We also got to see several monkeys on the site. We were there for just 3 hours before returning to the hotel for a quick shower and then met up with Neil and Massi for a wonderful dinner at the Ox Club Restaurant which right off the front entrance to the hotel.
After dinner, we transferred our photos from the cameras to the computer and called it a night.





Friday through Sunday, February 2-4
The Longest Day

After a long day of packing (and Matt having to finish running around with meetings with sub-contractors on the new house), we were finally ready to start the vacation. It was rush, rush, rush, right up to 6:30PM when Eric from Vintage Limousine arrived in the SUV to take us to San Francisco International Airport.
We arrived at the airport at 8:15 and had zero wait at both the EVA Airline check-in or through TSA.
We then went to the Air France lounge and waited for our boarding call.  Boarding began at 11:10 and takeoff for Taipei, the first stop on our way to Singapore, at 12:30AM.
The first flight was just over 12 hours. We had pre-ordered our dinner and breakfast choices online a few weeks before the flight.
Breakfast was served at 3:45AM on Sunday the 3rd, as we crossed the International Dateline and lost Saturday.
We arrived at Taipei Airport 6:15AM, walked a distance to the next gate and at 7:10, took a shuttle from the gate to the plane. Takeoff for Singapore was at 7:50 and shortly thereafter, another breakfast. This was a 4 hour flight, landing at 12:20. No line at customs and baggage came quickly. We were on our way via private transportation at 1:15. No line at check-in and we were up to our room quickly. We then re-packed for our 2 day trip to Cambodia as part of the pre-cruise package. Weight is VERY limited, so we can only have one small checked bag and a 15 pound limit on one carry on. Our large luggage is kept at the Hotel in Singapore and will be transported to the ship on the 7th. They should be in our cabin when we arrive just before departure. We rested the rest of the afternoon before walking over to Paulander Brauhaus for a German dinner, which is directly across the street from the hotel, but you have to walk down 2 blocks to cross the road. It was ok, but not the best meal we have had.
Back to the hotel and asleep at 8:00.

 


Prologue

August 11, 2021

First, we have to go back to our March 2020 Asian Cruise that covered 8 countries, which was cancelled just a few weeks before the cruise was to start due to the outbreak of Covid in Asia. We immediately booked a similar cruise for 2022.  In mid-2021, Regent canceled that cruise, because Covid was still prevalent in most of the countries to be visited. We had some future cruise credit sitting with them, so we scheduled an October 2021 short cruise to Greece and Turkey. Due to continuing Covid outbreaks, we decided to cancel that cruise, as we did not want to wear a mask everywhere onboard and on all excursions as was being required. We then waitlisted a 2023 cruise, but it only covered Japan and China. Regent later released their 2024 itineraries and we noticed our original full Asian cruise was being offered again, so we cancelled the 2023 cruise. Reservations for the 2024 cruise open on August 18.


August 18, 2021

Brenda at Travel Leaders in Aberdeen was able to book the cruise for us very quickly. Our first choices of cabins were already taken, so we ended up in our 5th choice, although should there be an opening in the others, we should be able to get it. As of now, we will be in Cabin 723, which does have a larger balcony, which we prefer.
We will be doing a 3 day pre-cruise tour visiting Angkor Wat in Cambodia and a 3 day post-cruise tour of Tokyo.


February 7, 2023

Excursions booked:

 

Ko Samui, Thailand

Ancient Temples and Monkeys

Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok In A Day
Pattaya Floating Market

Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Sihanoukville By Open-Air Vehicle
Ream National Park By Boat

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Mekong River Delta
Folkloric Show
Highlights of Saigon

Nha Trang, Vietnam

Guided Pedicab Ride Through Nha Trang

Coron, Palawan

Snorkeling Adventure

Manila, Philippines

Charms of Old Manila

Hong Kong, China

Nine Dragons Tour
Hong Kong By Night & Sky 100

Taipei, Taiwan

Keelung & The Natural Wonders of Yeliu

Ishigaki, Japan

Highlights of Ishigaki

Shanghi, China

Garden City Suzhou
Best of Shanghi

Busan, Korea

Highlights of Gyeongju & Busan

Nagasaki, Japan

Panoramic Nagasaki

Osaka, Japan

Visiting Nara On Our Own
Highlights of Osaka

Nagoya, Japan

Panoramic Tour of Nagoya

 


July 13, 2023

Air Travel has been arranged. We had tried for a non-stop flight from San Francisco to Singapore, but Regent wanted $6,000 extra. We decided not to do that, but to fly from San Francisco to Taipei then on to Singapore via EVA Airways. Our business class seats have been assigned.


July 26, 2023

We have booked a tour of Nara, Japan while the ship is in Osaka. I visited Nara back in 1974 on my People-To-People World Tour. Matt and I have decided to use "Tours By Locals" once again. We have used them before when visiting New Zealand and loved having a local guide take us on a personal tour.
We chose an eight hour tour with Atsuko Tanaka who will meet us at the Kobe-Osaka Cruise port and take us to Nara Park to feed the deer that bow, visit Kofukuji Temple, Yoshikien Garden, Todaji Temple and Kasuga Shrine amongst other local sites.