The luxury cruise liner Genting Dream is a holiday in itself
I rubbed the leftover sleep off my eyes, unable to recognise the room I was in. Feeling lost and confused, I walked over to the heavy curtains and pulled them aside. A pale, pink and white sky and the vast, shimmering expanse of the Arabian Sea stretched away to the far horizon. Coleridge whispered in my ear, “Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.” Quite clearly, I was dehydrated, not from the view of the endless sea out front, but because of my stress-induced bacchanalia from the previous night. After a much needed drink of water, I started to remember the events that had led to this confused state of mind…an early morning flight from New Delhi to Mumbai…and then…a ship! Cruise! I was on a ship!
And not just any old ship either. I was aboard the Genting Dream, the brand new ocean liner from Dream Cruises, on its first ever voyage from Germany to its home port, Hong Kong. I was sailing on the Mumbai to Colombo stretch, one of a few of the ship’s first ever passengers. To my bleary mind, I’d already been a part of many firsts in the past 24 hours—Genting Dream’s first voyage, the ship’s status as Asia’s first homegrown luxury cruise, my first ever cruise, my first trip abroad, my first experience with lost luggage…I felt dizzy. I’d spent my first night sans luggage. After spending hours running around trying to reason with the Chinese-speaking crew and drowning my sorrows one pint at a time, I’d slept like a baby, my fear of being sea-sick long forgotten!
Especially designed for the Asian cruise market, the Genting Dream is 18 decks of pure luxury. What else could it be with six waterslides, two high-end submersibles for underwater jaunts (4 passengers at a time), a Zouk night club on board, high-end shopping outlets, 35 restaurants and bars, a casino, a movie theatre and a spa? Oh, did I forget to mention zip-lining, rock climbing walls, bowling alleys and the many swimming pools? Well, let’s just say that the ship is a perfect holiday in itself.
I was put up in one of the 1,674 staterooms on Deck 12 with a private balcony facing the sea. It had a comfortable queen-sized bed, a couch, a dresser, a wardrobe and a state-of-the-art washroom. But I can safely say that when I was not lounging on a deckchair, I was busy exploring the rest of the ship. While I missed my poor luggage, I consoled myself with the fact that I did have an entire ship to myself! While we were waiting to depart from the Mumbai Port, I wandered over to the casino’s slot. While I was trying to figure out how the slots worked, I got distracted by the aroma coming the Dream Dining Room. I left the slot machines and decided on late lunch instead. This elegant Asian restaurant took care of my hunger while I made a list of things to do in the next 48 hours.
Right in the middle of the ship was the live entertainment zone. A sizable audience was listening to a very talented singer belt out popular numbers. Torn between wanting to stay and listen to her sing and quenching an annoying thirst, I wavered and headed towards the Bar City on Deck 8. This is where I tried to forget my still-missing luggage. The ship finally set sail at 9pm, and so did I—to Zouk! Appropriately named Zouk At Sea, the club comprises of an indoor dance club, a retro sports bar, a bowling alley and a very fancy Zouk Beach, which is an outdoor day and night party deck. I am not necessarily a big fan of fancy stuff, but I sure did shake a leg or two to the beat of the music while sipping on a glass of very fine red.
And so, the foggy morning after. My bag was still missing. And I was hungry. ”We’re still looking for your bag ma’am,” I heard for the nth time, so I headed over to The Lido on Deck 16 for breakfast. What a huge spread they had for us to choose from! With nothing else to do in my same old clothes, I retreated to my room to laze some more on the deckchair, followed by a disturbingly quiet siesta. A ship that was originally home to 3,352 passengers but at that time had easily around 2000 guests (approx) could also give you a very sound sleep. We were in the high seas and for as far as my eyes could see, it was nothing but the blue water. Minimal never looked more beautiful! I loved that afternoon, because for the first time I was crossing seas...literally. There was a very distinct line made by water currents that separated Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, and I watched every moment of the ship crossing that line. I somehow missed sunset, maybe it was the gathering of clouds, thanks to the retreating monsoon.
I was invited to dinner by my host, and after a long discussion on where to eat, we went down to Food Federation for our dinner. This wonderful South East Asian style a la carte restaurant on Deck 6 stole my heart, but I was pining for a drink and Zouk beckoned. I was in the middle of my first glass of wine when I got the best news—they found my bag! Overcome with joy I decided to call it a day. The relief was indescribable. The perfect evening ended with light rain and a hint of a thunder.
Next morning, fresh clothes on, I ‘packed’ my bags and waited for us to reach Colombo. So far the water had been kind to us, but after the previous night’s rain, the ship was rolling and pitching for the first time! And so, sea-sickness finally showed up. I stuck to my bed for the good part of the morning. I started hearing the ship creak and sigh as it sped through the choppy waters. It didn’t help my nausea, but I kept repeating to myself, “It’s all in the head.” Finally I desided to take the bull by the horns and swayed off to the ship’s spa to spend the afternoon getting pampered. At the Crystal Life Asian Spa, I opted for their basic shoulder, back and feet massage. The hot towel compress on my feet was magical. Things didn’t feel so bad any more.
After an hour or so Genting Dream sailed into the port of Colombo. On the quay, I could see a fresh bunch of passengers getting ready to board the ship. I felt a little sad to leave it. Next time, I’m going to sail all the way to Singapore!
Dream Cruises (dreamcruiseline.com/en/) is a premium cruise brand that’s designed exclusively for the Asian market. While the Genting Dream is it’s first ship, the company aims to ultimately sail the most spacious ships in the Asia-Pacific region. Dream Cruises’ two-, five- and seven-night itineraries will cover Hong Kong, Vietnam and China. The 2N Hong Kong and China cruise starts from Rs20,750. Genting Dream is an 18-deck premium cruise ship with 1,674 staterooms and over 100 connected suites and staterooms for families and large groups. 70% of the staterooms come with private balconies
Genting Dream has a Penthouse; Executive and Deluxe Dream Suites, and Balcony, Ocean View and Inside Staterooms. I stayed in a Balcony Stateroom which had a television, telephone, shower, a four-seater couch, hair dryer, storage space with a safe and a mini fridge. The room key-card is included with your on-board credit card. Each passenger will get RMB 90/HKD 110 to spend onboard. This can be used anywhere, from the shops, restaurants, bars and lounges.
Where To Eat
With 35 restaurants and bars, there are choices aplenty. Dream Dining Room, Genting Dining Room, Genting Club, World Grill and The Lido serve meals free of charge, while for other restaurants, bars and lounges, one can use the keycard.Also on-board is the Bistro By Mark Best, the acclaimed Australian chef’s very first restaurant at sea.
What To See & Do
The cruise is a holiday in itself with much to see and do. There are the many shopping and retail spaces for high-end luxury products, the Zouk club, a cinema-at-sea, karaoke as well as live music. For work purposes, there are meeting rooms and a business centre.
Little Panda’s Club is the perfect place to keep the kids busy. There is a gaming arcade too for those interested. For passengers interested in fun activities, there are two submersibles, six waterslides, rope courses, a climbing wall, a mini golf course, a bowling alley, a sports complex, the Zouk Beach Club and swimming pools.
There are multiple spa options too. I tried shoulder and feet treatment at the Crystal Life Asian Spa. Others include Crystal Life Spa, Le Salon, Gentlemen’s Barber and Crystal Life Fitness.