Cristina our cabin attendant is lovely, but I’m going to have to dispose of her.
It’s our second day on board and she is so intent on looking after her guests that every time we leave our cabin we come back to find she’s snuck in some more food. Handmade chocolates just before bedtime, in case we hadn’t eaten enough at dinner – the freshly cooked seafood to order being particularly outstanding. And, unfortunately, as I was first back to our cabin, I had to finish them before my husband returned, so he wouldn’t know what he had missed. Afternoon tea delivered to the cabin, perfectly timed just as we got back from our third day of sightseeing in Hong Kong. We gulped down the tea and I eyed the cakes nervously. Well, I mused, it would be so rude not to take a bite. Perhaps I should just try one. Four cakes later – yes four – I was starting to hatch my plan to do away with Cristina.
“What about the gym?” he said. Well, maybe I could eat all the desserts, cakes and chocolates, for which I have a particular weakness, if I did something in return. A bit of give and take, better balance or ying and yang as they might say over here. So off I went to the gym to discuss a ‘try not to put too much weight on during the cruise’ programme with Branco, the ship’s trainer. First we had the easy part – standing on the scales for the weigh-in. The next part starts tomorrow, some time before breakfast. So, confident I will be atoning for what I am about to eat, I think I may be able to manage a few more chocolates tonight before dealing with Cristina tomorrow.
The food on board is excellent. Much better than I had expected and with a choice of restaurants, from help-yourself-buffet to smaller, upmarket, dining rooms and very personal service, the meals are really something to look forward to. As is the complimentary wine served with the meal. Quality, vintage, wines are available for a supplement but, frankly, the wines we have had for the last two nights have been more than quaffable. Which probably means an even longer work out with Branco.
We sailed from Hong Kong today, after three wonderful days there. We opted to arrange our own stay for two nights before boarding the ship at Hotel Icon, a new boutique hotel designed by a consortium of Asian architects and our very own Sir Terence Conran. I recommend it highly. I also recommend adding a few nights in HK before the cruise begins, not only to enjoy the city but also to help alleviate any jet lag.
I’m sure there’s little I can add to everything that has been written about this truly vibrant, friendly and bustling city. And the free nightly light show against the backdrop of the towering buildings is nothing short of spectacular. I felt perfectly safe walking around on my own – he was resting his leg, rugby injury from his heyday years – and only got hassled occasionally by Indian tailors keen to promote their business; the most enterprising one standing outside Max Mara offering to copy their new designs for a fraction of the price was particularly tempting, but I walked on.
We did most of the classic Hong Kong tourist trail: Star ferry from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island; train to the Peak for spectacular 360 degree views with lunch at the Peak Look Out, one of HK’s oldest restaurants; Temple Street Night Market where we also ate at one of the excellent street cafes; local bus across the island to Stanley and its’ famous market. And, of course, a wee bit of shopping. Although not too much, as I didn’t find HK particularly cheap. Certainly, you can buy many items cheaper at home, including the tat. But I did manage to find a couple of handbags. Well, I had to buy something.
It was when we were in Stanley that we really started to think we were very lucky indeed. In fact, we almost felt smug. We were having lunch and got talking to an English couple. They were in HK to see their son en-route to Thailand where they had a very ambitious tour planned. This involved several flights and much travelling, quite a lot of hassle and very little downtime. Not really a holiday they remarked! Unlike our cruise.
So far we only have excellent things to say about our cruise experience thus far. Though we are still discovering new places and haven’t scratched the surface of everything the Azamara Journey has to offer. And with all the obligatory safety and immigration requirements behind us we are starting to settle down, explore the ship and relax.
As we left HK the fog descended. The fog horn blasts intermittently and the ship gently rolls as I am tucked up in our large, comfortable, king size bed. So far the ginger tablets are working and we are looking forward not only to arriving in Vietnam, but also to spending some downtime on the ship.
To see how we get on follow my travel blog on Silver Travel Advisor. Alternatively you can catch up with me on Twitter.
Read Chapter 1: Introduction: Is a cruise going to be the right choice for me?
Read Chapter 3: Down time onboard the ship
Read Chapter 4: Vietnam: Hanoi and Halong Bay
Read Chapter 5: Vietnam: Denang and Anhoi
Read Chapter 6: Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Read Chapter 7: Thailand: Bangkok
Read Chapter 8: Thailand: Ko Samui
Read Chapter 9: Singapore
Read Chapter 10: Azamara Club Cruises: the verdict
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