Down time on the ship. A leisurely breakfast. Time to unwind.
He had reflexology and a massage and slept most of morning whilst I worked out under the watchful eye of Branco. Well, I say worked out, I only used the treadmill for 40 minutes, managed to burn 180 calories and Branco is already a bit concerned about my heart rate. Not many calories, I know but it’s a start. Must be at least half a miniature chocolate brownie. I hope to progress over the next few days and become more adventurous. Actually, the gym is extremely well equipped with all the latest machines – more so than many world-class hotel gyms I’ve visited.
Lunch at the Waves Café by the pool was light (my choice) as passengers lazed around the plunge pool and hot tubs. We chose table service but many people had food served to them on their sun-beds and having had a snooze in one of them later in the afternoon I can quite see why they wouldn’t want to budge, they were just so comfortable.
Somehow our day of relaxation started to get a bit busy. He went to the Destination Seminar to find out more about Vietnam and our next destination, Hanoi. The speaker, an expert in Indo-China, had spent most of his adult working life in SE Asia and was both knowledgeable and enthusiastic about his subject. New facts were learned and he came back raring to get to Vietnam.
Meanwhile, I went to the Beauty Spa for a very relaxing and excellent pedicure, then we both met up for afternoon tea. Yes, I know it wasn’t long since breakfast and lunch, but there is such a choice of food at all times of the day in different restaurants and bars that it is hard to resist.
On sea days, high-tea, complete with cucumber finger sandwiches and a trolley practically groaning under the weight of a wide choice of pastries and cakes, is served whilst a harpist plays. On the 10th deck, with fabulous panoramic views, the Looking Glass Lounge is genteel, refined, crisp white linen table cloths, impeccable service and harps back – pardon the pun – to a bygone age. Such a treat. Calories, who’s counting?
Our third day on board and we haven’t scratched the surface of all the dining options. Believe me, we are trying to pace ourselves but it’s a challenge. So, table tennis before supper then. Best of three and we had worked up a good appetite.
After another wonderful dinner we rounded off the night in the cabaret lounge with Rikki Jay, a fast-talking London comedian. I’m not sure if all the nationalities on board – 25 apparently – were keeping up with the typically British gags and sense of humour, but we loved it and haven’t laughed so much in ages.
Tomorrow we arrive in Halong Bay, one of the world’s most outstanding natural wonders. We have two days here. Azamara offer an excursion to Hanoi (3.5 hours drive each way) and a tour the main sites. There is also a sail on a traditional Junk around the thousands of islets that soar dramatically from the sea and a walk through a large cave to a lagoon. So hard to choose! As we are here for two days it was possible to do both, though we felt the day trip to Hanoi would give us little time to get a feel for the place.
It was when deliberating the choices we realized we could, if we wished, actually get off the ship for an overnight stay. Naively, we had thought once on board that would be it, but, as the Concierge explained, when in port you can do whatever you want, as long as you are back before the ship sails. Another pleasant surprise about cruising, you can dip in and dip out and still feel you are travelling ‘independently’.
Whilst not desperate to leave the ship, going ‘off-piste’ is just up our street so with the help of the Concierge we have made arrangements for an overnight in Hanoi. Where else but the famous historic Metropole Hotel, where luminaries such as Graham Greene, Charlie Chaplin and, during the war, Joan Baez, Jane Fonda and a host of embassies lived there.
Read Chapter 1: Introduction: Is a cruise going to be the right choice for me?
Read Chapter 2: We’re on our way! Hong Kong
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
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Azamara.