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April 09, 2019, Bintan Island, Indonesia

All abroad for fun — and food

Meredith Woo finds her sea legs on her first cruise experience with Genting Dream

Meredith Woo

The stream of water fl owing from the showerhead seemed to be swaying, but ever so slightly. I, too, felt like I was undulating, as if dancing to the same beat. It was captivating.

Call me an ignoramus, but this two-night weekend getaway marked my maiden cruise, and even bath time was a new and amusing experience.

Of course, the gentle movement that I felt could hardly throw me off balance on the massive Genting Dream, which measures 335m from bow to stern and can carry up to 3,352 passengers housed in 1,674 staterooms.

Life’s a beach
Another memorable first for me was visiting Bintan Island.

At Lagoi Bay, my adventurous fellow travellers had a blast trying out the Jet Ski and Beach ATV (all-terrain vehicle) while I spent the morning strolling along the pristine 3.5km-long beach with soft, warm white sand and cerulean waters.

It was not long before my inner foodie led me to the nearby Plaza Lagoi. At the mall, I discovered unique Indonesian snacks (sea snail or tempe chips, anyone?) and enjoyed mie bakso (Indonesian beef ball noodle soup) at the Food✫gram (pronounced “food-star-gram”) food court.

I also visited Treasure Bay Bintan, a massive waterfront resort city where you will find Crystal Lagoon, South-east Asia’s first manmade seawater lagoon. Waterslides, cable ski tube and other activities aside, nature lovers will enjoy the Mangrove Eco Tour and the exciting (and possibly muddy) off-road ATV on jungle terrain. The main draw for me at Treasure Bay is the Tanjung Pinang Street Food Market, a stretch of food stalls modelled after Bintan’s local street food stands. There, I stuffed my face with tempe mendoan (battered and fried fermented soya beans served with a sweet-spicy black sauce), mie goreng (stir-fried noodles) and even banana fritters topped with grated cheese and a dusting of aromatic brown sugar — all washed down with fresh coconut water.

Full and satisfied, I returned to the pick-up point to catch the shuttle bus to the connecting bumboat. Guests enjoy 12 hours of port time between 8am and 8pm, Singapore time.

The evening rain turned the waters choppy, but the experienced crew ensured our safe transfer from the small vessel to the gangway leading into the cruise ship — a relief for a non-swimmer like myself.

Glorious food
Dining on the cruise ship was a foodie’s dream come true. We were spoilt for choice.

On my first night on board, I was delighted by the delicious theatrics at lively Japanese speciality restaurant, Umi Uma Teppanyaki (additional cost, reservations required). Throughout my entire meal, the chef juggled the salt and pepper shakers, made jokes while cracking eggs, and got artistic with the fried rice on the steel grill. Despite all the action going on, he still managed to attend to our food preferences like how we wanted our steak done.

For breakfast, I ate at buffet venue The Lido, which serves international cuisine with a section specialising in vegetarian Indian dishes. The place was inviting, with a lovely view of the ocean, but I could not tarry for I had a busy day of activities ahead of me.

Even after my earlier street food meal on shore, I could not miss out on the Dream Dining Room Upper’s free-flow Chinese set menu, which is ideal for families or a group of friends. That evening, we had eight items that included soup, fish, prawns, vegetables, frog’s legs, roast meats and dessert.

After that, I even arranged for supper with my travel mates at Blue Lagoon where we had congee and chicken wings. Each item on the supper menu was only $2.

The feasting continued the next day at the Dream Dining Room Lower where we had dim sum, eggs made to order and other international breakfast fare.

Activities galore
There was nary a boring moment on the ship. In fact, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of activities to choose via the Dream Cruises onboard app.

Make sure you book ahead for stunning productions such as Latin ballroom dancing show

Rhythm Divine and acrobatic spectacle Voyage of a Lover’s Dream. There is even a cabaret at the Silk Road Restaurant.

Genting Dream offers thematic sailings and the theme during my trip was Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation. This meant movie marathons, meet-and-greet sessions with the mascots, bedtime story sessions and other fun activities for the young — and the young-at-heart.

What appealed to me was duty-free shopping. I made sure to check out branded bags and watches on sale and time-limited trunk sales with mega discounts.

The ship’s six waterslides, zipline and rock-climbing wall were popular, but I was just not brave enough to take them on.

As it was the World Cup season then, I frequented the open-air Zouk Beach Club to catch live screenings on a giant LED screen with other football fans.

In the pre-dawn minutes before I decided to get some rest in my comfy room, I slid open my balcony door to listen to the sound of lapping waves and gaze at twinkling lights from other vessels in the distance. It wasn’t long before it was opened again, this time, to welcome the gorgeous sunrise.

GETTING THERE
I boarded the Genting Dream at Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore.

TRAVELLER’S TIPS
• Once on board, passports will be collected for safekeeping and for immigration purposes. You only need to have your Access Card with you when you go on shore excursions (available for a fee).

• Get acquainted with the Dream Cruises onboard app and Dream Daily newsletter to get updated on the ship’s activities. Some reservations can be made via the app.

• Pay for everything on board with the Access Card; final payment can be settled via the Dream Cruises onboard app before disembarkation through your credit card.

• Don’t have the right currency for shore excursions? Check out the foreign currency exchange service at the reception.

 

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Meredith Woo finds her sea legs on her first cruise experience with Genting Dream