Travel Story: South East Asia On Seabourn Cruises Ship, Ovation
Updated: Feb 17, 2021
South East Asia was always one of those destinations we wanted to visit but until recently had not had the chance to. The main reason we booked this cruise was because it was for our honeymoon and the departure date was the closest to our wedding. We had not travelled with Seabourn before so we were keen to see how their offering compared to other luxury cruise lines we had sailed on.
Day 1: Singapore, Singapore - Marina Bay Sands Check In
After our excellent business class flight with Singapore Airlines from Australia to Singapore we caught a cab from the airport to downtown Singapore and made our way to our hotel for the night, the Marina Bay Sands. We choose this hotel as it is one of the most iconic hotels in Singapore and it came highly recommended, you can read more about the hotel in our review here. On arrival we visited the hotels Skypark which is situated on the worlds largest cantilever platform stretched across the top of the hotels 3 towers, it is an engineering marvel and has an infinity edge pool, gardens, bars and restaurants. We then headed down to check out our room, we had booked one of the hotels club rooms which featured amazing views over the harbour and included access to the club lounge included in the room rate. After freshening up we visited the club lounge on level 55 for evening canapés and cocktails while watching the sun set over the Singapore Strait. We had been told that the Garden Rhapsody show was a must see so we headed over to Gardens By The Bay to see the 8pm sound and light show, it was amazing and we would definitely recommend it as a must do for anyone visiting Singapore. After the show we decided to walk around the harbour as the i Light Singapore Festival was on, the festival occurs in January and February each year and there are many light displays and sculptures around the harbour to see. We ended up at the iconic Singapore Merlion where we were able to look back across the bay to Marina Bay Sands to see the 9pm Spectra Light & Water Show. As it had been a big day of travelling and exploring we decided to head back to the hotel and get some well needed rest.
Day 2: Singapore, Singapore - Sentosa Island & Embarkation
On our second day in Singapore we had breakfast in the club lounge before checking out and catching a cab to the port to board the Seabourn Ovation, on arrival we were greeted by the ships staff and introduced to the cruise director who told us if there was anything he could do to make our honeymoon more special to simply let him know. We were impressed with our stateroom which was large, spacious and had a welcome bottle of champagne waiting for us. We were fortunate enough to sail on Seabourn Ovation within a year of launch so the public areas and staterooms still had that new feel to them, the ship has a capacity of 600 passengers so it has a very exclusive yacht feel to it. As the ship was not leaving until 11pm we decided to head back ashore and walk over to nearby Sentosa Island, we checked out Universal Studios as well as the Singapore S.E.A Aquarium. The aquarium is the biggest we've visited and was definitely the highlight of the day. In the evening we enjoyed sunset drinks on our stateroom balcony before dinner in the ships main restaurant. At dinner the head chef presented us with a specially made honeymoon dessert cake, we were touched that the staff had gone out of their way to make our trip special. Before bed we decided to check out the club bar where we had a nightcap just as the ship was setting sail.
Days 3&4: Sea Days - Retreat & Day Spa Visit
On our first sea day we had reserved a cabana at The Retreat which is an exclusive deck on the top of the ship, the cabana has a lounge area, sun lounges, dining table and television. As part of the package you get a fully stocked mini bar, bottle of French champagne to have with your three course lunch and unlimited exclusive wellness cocktails. There is a hot tub in the retreat but as it was a hot day we decided to not to use it and instead relaxed on the lounge in the shade of our cabana with the ceiling fan on. That night it was the first of the ships formal nights so after sunset drinks on our stateroom balcony we headed to the main restaurant where the nights menu featured lobster and caviar, the food was excellent. On our second sea day we slept in and had breakfast in our stateroom, the steward set up the dining table for us complete with tablecloth and then served the food, it was a lovely way to start the day watching the waves go by. We visited the ships day spa where we had pre booked a couples aromatherapy massage, the massages were excellent and the staff at the spa were warm and friendly. The rest of the day was spent relaxing on our staterooms spacious balcony.
Day 5: Bangkok, Thailand - Temples & Tuk Tuk Tour
Today we arrived in the port of Laem Chabang where we boarded a coach for the temples and tuk tuk tour which we booked through the ship, after a 2 hour coach ride we arrived at our first stop the Wat Traimit Temple which houses a 5.5 tonne golden buddha and then visited to the Wat Pho Temple to see the third largest reclining buddha. After our visit to the reclining buddha we jumped in our tuk tuk for a scenic ride to the Wat Ratchannada Temple also known as the metal castle, there were 30 tuk tuks in our convoy and the tour guides had arranged for the police to close intersections so we could travel through the city without stopping, in some cases entire streets were temporarily closed so we could go down one way streets the wrong way! It was an incredible experience and the highlight of the day. After the last temple our tuk tuk driver dropped us off at the royal princess hotel where a traditional Thai buffet lunch was waiting for us. The food was excellent but as it was a religious holiday we were unable to try the local beer. When we got back to the port we were all surprised to find the ships officers and senior staff lined up singing, dancing and holding a huge welcome home banner, everyone had lots of fun as we all danced our way on to the ship. As we sailed away our tour guides stood on the pier and sang a farewell song and held up signs saying come back soon. It left us with a wonderful memory of the people of Thailand.
Day 6: Ko Kood, Thailand - Private Island Beach Day
Today the ship anchored off the private island of Ko Kood where at sunrise the ships staff set about ferrying everything to the island that would be needed for the day, they set up a temporary kitchen and bar as well as taking all of the watersports equipment from the ships on board marina to the beach, it was a large operation taking several hours. We were lucky enough to get on the first tender ashore where the ships staff were waiting with beach towels and welcome cocktails for us, we grabbed a couple of the beachfront sun lounges and sat back with a cocktail to relax. Later in the morning a zodiac inflatable boat came across from the ship with the head chef on board amid lots of fanfare to present what is Seabourn's signature event, Caviar In The Surf. The staff on the beach walked out with a surf board to meet the boat where they then proceeded to set up a caviar station on the surf board and popped bottles of French champagne. We were all then invited out in to the water to enjoy the caviar and champagne, it was certainly a unique experience you won't find on any other cruise line. The chefs cooked us a barbecue lunch complete with lobster, fresh caught local fish, steaks and salads. I don't think we'd ever seen so many lobster tails grilling on a barbecue before, they were cooked perfectly with just the right amount of charring and served with melted butter. After lunch we sat back on our sun lounges with a cocktail and watched the other passengers enjoying the ships watersports equipment, there were stand up paddle boards, kayaks and even a banana boat being pulled along by a boat. We decided to grab our snorkels and head out to the nearby reef to check out the fish and coral, the water was incredibly clear and the reef was teeming with life. Before long the staff called last drinks and we boarded the tender to go back to the ship, we loved this little piece of paradise in Thailand and the fact that the ship had exclusive use of it for the day.
Day 7&8: Sihanoukville, Cambodia - National Park Tour & Sea Day
Today docked at the port of Sihanoukville where we boarded a coach for the Ream National Park Tour which was organised by the ship, once at the park we boarded a traditional Cambodian wooden fishing boat for a trip up river to a small fishing village where we met the local school children and fishing families. The schools in these remote areas are non government funded and rely on donations from tourists and charitable organisations to get the educational supplies they need, the school children demonstrated how they could speak, read and write both Cambodian and English which was incredible considering they don't have many educational resources. We were welcomed in to the family home of a local fishing family and shown how they catch and dry the prawns that they then eat and sell. For lunch we visited a beachside resort for a traditional Cambodian beach barbecue lunch with local beer both of which were excellent. The beach resort was beautiful but due to the pollution of Cambodia's waterways there was garbage washing up on to the shore. The people of Cambodia are lovely but it is a shock to see how much poverty and pollution is around. After Cambodia we spent another sea day relaxing on our stateroom balcony on the way to Vietnam.
Day 9: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam - Cu Chi Tunnels & Cultural Evening
Today the ship docked in Ho Chi Minh City where we boarded a coach for our ship booked tour inland to see the Cu Chi Tunnels, the tunnels were built by the north Vietnamese during the Vietnam war. It was incredible to see how small the tunnels were and how they lived underground for such a long time relying on eating the roots of jungle trees. After our interesting trip to the tunnels we were taken to a local riverside restaurant for a local Vietnamese lunch which was excellent, before long it was time to board the coach for the 2 hour ride back to the ship. In the evening we jumped in a mini van to be taken to the Majestic hotels rooftop bar for sunset drinks and a cultural show arranged by the ship. The dancers and musicians in the show were amazing and we enjoyed watching the show and taking in the view from the rooftop bar, after the show we were taken to Mandarine Restaurant which is one of the best fine dining restaurants in the city. We enjoyed the incredible food, wine and the company of the other guests from the ship, soon it was time to head back to the ship for a good nights sleep before our second day in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 10&11: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam & Sea Day - Street Food & Market Tour
On our second day in Ho Chi Minh City we went on a street food and market tour organised by the ship, we first visited the eastern medicine museum before heading to a street food market to see how the locals eat and then visited the fresh food markets. In Vietnam fresh seafood means fresh with the fish, prawns, eels and crabs all still alive in tubs and tanks with some even jumping out of the tubs in a last ditch effort to avoid the pot. It was amazing to see the variety of produce that makes up Vietnamese cuisine, after the market we were taken to Nha Hang Ngon a local street food restaurant where were treated to a wonderful lunch with local beer. We really enjoyed todays tour, we've eaten some of the best and freshest food we've ever eaten and it was one of the highlights of Vietnam. After departing Ho Chi Minh City we had another relaxing day at sea before our arrival in Da Nang.
Day 12: Da Nang, Vietnam - Hoi An Cycling Tour
Today we arrived in the port of Da Nang where we boarded a coach to head to Hoi An for a cycling tour arranged by the ship. After arriving on the outskirts of Hoi An we selected our bikes and then were taken by guide through the rice paddies and market gardens of Hoi An until we ended up in the city centre. We then visited a local silk factory as Hoi An is known for its silk clothing, it was interesting to see how they make the silk clothing and the embroided silk art works which take around 3 months to complete. After our tour we had some free time to explore on foot so we headed to the old quarter to see the Japanese bridge and to walk along the riverbank, we found a small local bar having happy hour so we stopped to try the local beer and snacks before heading back to the coach for our ride back to the ship. It was a great day and we highly recommend anyone visiting Hoi An to do the cycling tour.
Day 13&14: Sea Day & Ha Long Bay, Vietnam - Junk & Kayaking Tour
After another relaxing day at sea we arrived at our last stop in Vietnam, Ha Long Bay. We boarded a local junk to travel to one of the fishing villages located on one of the many limestone islands in the bay. Once we were at the village we grabbed a kayak and went for a guided tour around the islands, it was amazing to see how the locals live here, there is very little usable land so they live in floating houses or on boats. When we reboarded our junk we were treated to a traditional local fishermans lunch with fresh produce collected from the fishing village. The food was super fresh and the local beer was excellent, after lunch we arrived at another limestone island where we went for a walk through the limestone caves which are unique to this island and is also used by the fishermen for shelter in times of bad weather. Before long it was time to head back to the ship, we loved Ha Long Bay with its limestone islands, it is definitely the jewel of northern Vietnam.
Day 15&16: Sea Day & Hong Kong, China - City Tour
On our last sea day we visited the ships day spa for another couples massage and in the evening we visited the ships onboard specialty restaurant The Grill by Thomas Keller. On our final day we arrived at Hong Kong where we disembarked the ship for the last time and boarded a coach for our final tour organised by the ship, a coach city tour of Hong Kong. We first went to the top of Victoria Peak on the Peak Tram funicular to take some scenic photos before heading to Stanley market to check out the shops. We then visited Aberdeen where we went for a scenic cruise on a motorised sampan and then for lunch we went to Ho Hung Kee, a Michelin star street food restaurant where we enjoyed the best yum cha we have ever eaten. Before long it was time to head to the airport and our business class flight home to Australia via Singapore with Singapore Airlines. We loved Hong Kong and wished we'd had more time in the city but we will definitely be returning to explore this amazing city again soon. We also loved our cruise with Seabourn, the ship, staff and destinations were all excellent and we would definitely sail with them again. So that ends this travel story, if you have any questions about this trip feel free to comment on the blog, Until next time!
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About The Author
Rob has been passionate about cruise ship holidays and exploring the world since the first cruise he went on when he was only seven years old. Since then Rob who is a Photographer and his partner Mike of 18 years have travelled the world on over 25 cruises with over 10 different cruise lines visiting every continent across the globe as well as many remote tropical islands along the way. In addition to cruise holidays they enjoy relaxing at beach side holiday resorts and first/business class air travel as well as transcontinental rail journeys. Between them both Robert and Michael have worked out the best way to maximise frequent flyer reward points allowing them to travel first/business class at economy class prices or in some cases travelling first/business class for free.