Royal Caribbean – Close, but No Cigar!

December 14, traveler’s log: I sat in my Balcony Stateroom Suite aboard Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Sea and wondered how I was going to last four days of this. I was on the cruise ship’s Singapore-Port Kelang-Phuket-Singapore cruise and had just had my lunch on board.

The lunch experience was one reason that caused me to wonder if I would go stir crazy soon. It looked as if an entire public housing block was there at the buffet lunch at Windjammer Café which while abundant in terms of quantity had zero quality to speak of.  Also, the usual horrific behavior of Singaporeans one sees at buffets put me right off.

(That was my first of my two visits to the Windjammer Café. Later during the cruise, I ate only at the Romeo & Juliet Restaurant. It served exclusively western meals but I cannot recall a single outstanding meal except the Filet Mignon on December 15 – the lamb shank I had on December 17 has obviously been in the freezer for at least half a year!)

So there I was in my suite in the afternoon of December 14, wondering if I should grab my bag and leave. It was a little after one and the ship wasn’t going to sail till five so I could leave if I really wanted to.

I’ve fought the idea of going on a cruise for years. Friends who’ve been tell me how awesome the scenery was, how great the food was and how fantastic the entertainment was. But what scenery is there to talk about staring at the sea I wondered, even if it’s an Alaskan cruise, how exciting can all those icebergs be? Also, if you cook for so many people how tasty can the food really be? And for someone who dislikes gambling, karaoke and those crap that gets passed as “entertainment” what the heck am I gonna do on a cruise to keep myself occupied, I wondered. Moreover, would I get seasick? My past experience visiting a couple of rather large ships docked at the harbor have convinced me that what people say about huge ships being stable and “you can’t feel a thing” is absolutely rubbish. You can and do feel woozy.

I should have trusted my instincts. I should have gotten out while I could.

But I didn’t.

I was soon to suffer for it.

On the second day, I was hit with Montezuma’s revenge – food poisoning – after breakfast at the Windjammer Café.

Yup, people go for cruises and enjoy themselves. I go on a cruise and purge my guts out.

I must be so goddamn lucky.

I ended up at Cigar Aficionados, on deck 11 – I was there every night I was on board. Ah at last, something I can enjoy.  But the cigars they had were crap! Good thing I had my Havanas with me.

Here’s the list of cigars they were selling – none Cuban, and the prices reflect that:

Cojimar Vanilla (US$5/-)
Davidoff Ambassadrice (US$9/-)
Partagas Humitube (US$9/-)
Indios Rothschild (US$6.50)
Cao Gold Corona (US$8/-)
Macanudo Hampton Court (US$7.25)
Romeo y Juliet 1875 Bully (US$7.50)
Cao CX2 Robusto(US$11/-)
Feunte Hemingway (US$10/-)
Punch Cru No 2 (US$13.50)
Davidoff Grand Cru No 1 (US$15/-)
Montecristo Torpedo (US$14.50)
Hemingway 8-5-8 (US$9/-)
Macanudo Ascot (US$9.50)
Puros Indios (US$9/-)
Rocky Patel (US$8.50)

So I watched myself dying a slow death for four long days. I watched myself buying a US $16,000/- chronograph onboard. When others get depressed, they eat, for me, I buy watches.

There really was nothing for me to do on board. The Cruise Compass they put out every day even listed “Tuxedo Rental & Floral Cart available” as an “activity” – only goes to show how pathetic the whole thing was.

Was service good?

While the housekeeping crew was cheerful and friendly, housekeeping wasn’t great. An unpleasant odor perpetually permeated the area outside the staterooms.

Well, staff at the dining reservations desk on deck 5 were surly most of the time. Everyone else was friendly and courteous. One waiter that stood out was Sashko from Macedonia.

What was good about the cruise?

If you are a glutton cruises would be perfect for you – ALL food on board with the exception of specialty coffees, booze and beverages like Coke – and of course, those crappy cigars – are included in the fee, and that includes a buffet supper as well as room-service. But like I said, forget quality.

I was told that Royal Caribbean is an award-winning cruise company; now if this is award-winning I wonder how the other cruising nightmares are like.

Benjamin Franklin once said “travel is one way of lengthening life.”

Well, good old Ben has probably never been on a cruise.

Will I ever do another cruise?

Yes – only if you lock me in my suite with a fair-skinned, nubile and willing 17-year old virgin and throw away the key.

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