Bernadette Chua is the only Australian journalist on board The Genting Dream.
The Genting Dream is certainly a ship of dreams. Beautiful furnishings, plush arm chairs, fine German and Japanese hand painted china, exquisite paintings and marble bathrooms.
Putting her together is an amazing feat for Dream Cruises. And as Asia’s first luxury line, the question is: does it cross the cultures and will Australians feel at home?
The 3,400 passenger cruise ship is on her repositioning cruise from Singapore to Nansha in China, calling at three ports in Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang and Danang. While the destinations are exotic, it’s the ship that is the main attraction.
Starting with the dining offerings, there are over 35 bars, restaurants and clubs. The star eatery onboard would be without a doubt, celebrity chef Mark Bests’ ‘Bistro’.
The food marries Asian flavours with western produce. Guests can indulge in Iberico pork, Rangers Valley beef, potatoes cooked with duck fat, fresh oysters and the beautiful ‘Three Rivers’ dish, which is Murray Cod from the Murray River in Australia served with Sichuan potatoes from the Yangtze River in China and a butter sauce from the Loire Valley in France,” Best told Cruise&Travel Asia.
The Genting Dining Room serves a mixture of western and Asian dishes. Think hot and sour soup to start, chicken breast with natural jus for main and a cheesecake for dessert. There is also a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant, several bars including the Penfolds Wine Vault, a bakery and the Food Federation, which has Laksa, Nonya chicken curry and Malaysian rice noodles. It has been a big hit amongst Asian guests, especially those looking for a late night feed.
The cabins have been well designed – from the interior cabins up to the suites in the exclusive Dream Palace. The marble and wood bathrooms are large and well designed. Guests in the suite class and above have a tub, shower and two sinks. Etro brand toiletries are offered. In the spa suites, guests have a king sized bed, a 60-inch TV, large three-seater sofa as well as a walk-in bathroom, dressing and study table. Guests in the suites also have access to the Dream Butlers who will book shore excursions and spa appointments as well as fetch you meals from the Dream Palace kitchen.
The Dream Palace is reminiscent of Crystal’s fleet – it’s stylish and sophisticated. In the reception there are velvet sofas and armchairs with leather pillows, which then open up into a large gaming area for VIP guests. The staircase wraps around a giant chandelier and leads to the suites as well as the Dream Palace dining area. There are beautiful photographs and paintings and it is modern, sleek and chic.
Back downstairs, the Crystal Western Spa offers a condensed menu of facials, manicures and pedicures as well as massages. In the Crystal Asian Spa, there are 100 reflexology chairs for those looking for a traditional type of massage.
For the more adventurous guests, there is a rock climbing wall, zipline and waterslides on deck 16 and 17. Also on deck 16 is the Panda Kids Club.
The Zouk nightclub has an indoor and outdoor area where a DJ is playing the latest tunes from around the world.
It’s a well-finished and stunning ship but the downside is that the service is not quite there yet. Taking into consideration that it is a repositioning and soft launch cruise – what they in the industry call a “shakedown” designed to find the faults – guests have been waiting up to an hour in between courses and have been served dessert before they receive their mains.
The butlers are impeccable, fast and attentive but there have been stories circulating about poor house-keeping. One couple found a leftover donut in their fridge from the previous guest in their cabin – not quite the midnight treat one would be expecting. The English of some of the staff is also limited, so if your Mandarin is not up to scratch, you may struggle to communicate if you have a complicated request.
Smoking is allowed on balconies and inside certain parts of the ship so if you’re a non-smoker, that may also be another downside.
Overall, once the service and system has been worked out, it should work like a Dream!