Review: China – Part Two

Ahoy Fellow Cruisers,

In this blog Zuleika will continue talking about her recent trip to Asia, this blog will focus on cruising in Asia on Ovation of the Seas and a night in Macau.

My last blog had us in Xi’an having just visited the Terracotta Warriors. The following day we headed to the airport as a group as we were boarding a flight to Hong Kong. Hong Kong is where I would be leaving the rest of my group and venturing out on my own. Xi’an airport was fantastic, lots of security and immigration meant that we got through pretty quickly, although I did have some body spray removed from my carry-on. Have never had that taken off me before, but it was China, there was no way I was going to argue with anyone!

Octopus card for use on local transit in Hong Kong

With an uneventful flight to Hong Kong and arriving in the evening I said good bye to my fellow travelers and headed out of the airport. Hong Kong airport is huge but very easy to navigate, I collected my luggage and started to make my way out. One of the things I would recommend especially if you are going to be in Hong Kong for a few days is purchasing an Octopus card. There is a kiosk where you can buy them just as you are leaving the baggage claim area.

My trip into the city included a hotel shuttle. I had to get off the train at a specific station and then a hotel shuttle would take me from there to my hotel. Be aware you will be expected to lift your own bags on and off the bus. So if you don’t think you can lift your suitcase onto the bus then I would look at a taxi or other form of transport.

I stayed at The Kowloon Hotel, which was adequate for one night. I stayed here as I originally thought that I would catch a train to the cruise terminal and the train station was close to the hotel and also I thought it had a self-service laundry. It did not. It had a laundry service. There was a laundromat across the road which I headed over to the next morning, I had been travelling for just over a week and was fast running out of clean laundry and knowing that the cruise ship did not have a self-service laundry I ventured over the road to the laundry suggested by the hotel. I will admit I saw a side of Hong Kong that was very interesting and I am happy to be here typing this, that is all I will say about that!!!

The hotel was in a fantastic area of Kowloon being near the Avenue of the Stars, the water, a great spot to view the Symphony of Lights in the evening and not too far from the Star Ferry

Kai Tak cruise terminal

Kai Tak Cruise terminal used to be the old airport – If you flew into Hong Kong prior to 1998 you will definitely remember the thrill of flying into Kai Tak airport.

I arrived at the cruise terminal expecting long queues and heaps of people. I did arrive later in the afternoon, later than I anticipated but this turned out to be a benefit. The cruise prior had had an outbreak of Norovirus and they had delayed boarding so they could do a deep clean of the ship. So by the time I arrived the backlog was gone and I had to wait about 1 minute before I got to the check-in person. I was doing two back to back cruises – a two night cruise to nowhere and then a 5 night cruise to Vietnam. This seemed to cause a large amount of trouble for the person checking me in, although I think they may have been new. It wasn’t really a drama for me, I was excited to be getting onto the ship.

Be aware that depending on where you are cruising to the cruise ship may take your passport, it my case they collected my passport almost as soon as I got to my cabin, I received a phone call from the front desk advising they needed to collect my passport and there was someone knocking on my door within 5 minutes and I got my passport back late afternoon on the last day of my second cruise. Don’t be concerned if the ship requests your passport.

Once on the ship I headed to my cabin to check everything out – I booked a Studio Balcony cabin and was not disappointed. If you want to see more check out the video below, that is my cabin and you will get a glimpse of Vietnam from the balcony.

Posted by Cruise Factor on Tuesday, 29 May 2018

 

Landing Card, towel elephant & Cruise Compass on my bed the night before arriving in Vietnam

The two cruises I did are referred to as ‘Cultural Immersion’, so you will have a different experience to cruising from New Zealand or Australia, English won’t be the dominant language spoken on the ship, you might find the announcements are also not made in English. I will expand on this in a future blog as it is very important information if you are going to do a culturally immersive cruise with any cruise line.

 

 

My first cruise was a two night cruise to no where, so I got to spend lots of time enjoying the ship, I had done a Travel Agent inspection previously on Ovation and I fell in love with the ship, so I had lots of time to explore everywhere! The second cruise was a 5 night cruise to Vietnam. I will talk in more detail in another blog about doing back to back cruises. The cruise line arranged the visa (landing card) for Vietnam. There was a USD$6 charge added to my on board account and the

Nha Trang

 

 

 

night before we arrived into our first port my landing card was on my bed when I returned to my cabin after the evening show.

 

 

Once the cruise ended I was heading to Macau for the night and I needed to get to the ferry terminal. When I got into the cruise terminal at Kai Tak, right near the exit was a desk where you could book shuttles into town. It cost me HKD$150 – about NZD$30. I got off the shuttle, which dropped us off at a central Kowloon hotel and it was a 5 – 6 minute walk to the ferry terminal. It was 30 degrees so I would recommend a taxi if you have mobility issues or don’t like the heat. There is a big sign outside the building saying Ferry terminal, so I knew I was in the right place. The check in area is upstairs so you can take the lift up.

Super Class cabin on Turbo Jet

I had booked my ferry tickets from New Zealand, there are a couple of different ferry operators from Hong Kong to Macau, I took Turbo Jet. Signage wasn’t that clear so I went up to a counter that had Turbo Jet above it and was told that I need to swap my voucher for a ticket and was pointed in the direction of the ticket counter. It is at this point you need to be careful. There are people not associated with the ferry line who will try and sell you tickets, kinda like scalpers, they literally stand 2 metres away from the counter and might tell you that your ferry is sold out and they have the last tickets, or try and sell you another one even though you have paid for your ticket already. Often the scalpers will buy ALL of the tickets so you have no choice – that is why you should buy before you leave New Zealand. You are going to pay more than if you just buy direct, so just walk on by. I went to the ticket counter on the other side of the terminal and they swapped my voucher for a ticket. I had my suitcase with me until I got onto the Ferry where there was a storage area downstairs. I was in Super Class which was upstairs.

It was a fantastic ferry crossing, I traveled from Kowloon to Macau Outer ferry terminal. This is the main downtown area of Macau and the Portuguese side of the city.

 

Galaxy Hotel Resort

I was staying in Cotai at the Galaxy Hotel, which is the new area built on reclaimed land, also known as the Cotai Strip after the Las Vegas Strip.

Macau is a fantastic place to visit, there are two distinct sides to Macau, Cotai which is all glitz, glamour and excess. With the mega casinos and resorts like Galaxy Hotel. Then there is the historical side of Macau that was colonised by the Portuguese in the 16th Century. The Portuguese influence can been seen all over the city and is an interesting juxtaposition with the Cotai Strip. I took the hop on hop off bus around Macau and got to see the different areas.

If you have a day or two spare at the end of your holiday and you are flying out of Hong Kong I would recommend you spend a couple of nights in Macau and then you can take the ferry directly to Hong Kong airport.

This was one of the best experiences and made the airport experience amazing. Taking the ferry to the airport meant that I checked in my luggage at the ferry terminal and it was checked all the way to Auckland. I received my boarding pass for my flight from the ferry check-in staff. I then cleared customs at the ferry terminal, which was simple and very quick and only had to go through security when I got to Hong Kong airport. If you don’t like airports and long queues and are interested in a short trip to Macau I would recommend heading to Hong Kong airport via the Turbojet ferry, it is hassle-free travelling!

I made it to the end of my trip and it was definitely one of those experiences, where I saw a little bit of a lot of things, and it has given me a desire to go back for a longer period of time!

If you have any questions about any of my trip send an email through to us info@cruisefactor.co.nz or via DM on the Cruise Factor Facebook page. Or if anything that I have talked about interests you get in touch and we can put together some pricing for you.

Standard Room at Galaxy Hotel Resort

 

 

 

 

Macau Tower

Macau

 

One Comment

  1. Alison
    Posted September 24, 2018 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    Looks amazing 🙂

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