World-class entertainment, delightful culinary offerings and endless vistas of the deep blue sea to boot – these are some of the things that make Genting Dream an escape to remember.
For the majority of the city’s wanderlusters, the thrill of stepping afoot an unexplored territory, breathing in some salty sea air, and embarking on an adventure of the unknown has been an unreachable dream over the last two years.
Not anymore. As I lug my stuffed carry-on bag through immigration (vaccination records and Covid test results in tow) and not quite knowing what to expect, that familiar tingling sense of excitement begins to build. Docked right in front of me at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal is the 335-metre wide, 150,695-tonne behemoth that is the Genting Dream cruise liner. Currently operating at half of its 3,352-passenger capacity, its endless glass-framed balconies reflect the glistening water—and it is what a friend and I are to call home for the next two nights.
We’re here to check out the liner’s signature ‘super seacation’, among the most popular luxury ‘cruises to nowhere’ that have been all the rage across Asia. Replacing the usual hop-offs in the likes of Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia is a slow, enjoyable voyage down to the skirts of the South China Sea and back. It's almost a blessing in disguise: with a gamut of entertainment, restaurants and bars, sports and recreations, retail and wellness offerings all housed under one roof, the cruise liner feels like a world on its own, a paradise that requires more than a few days to explore.
But first, after a swift yet thorough check-in process, we drop off our bags at The Palace Suite, a 37sqm respite boasting a queen bed, a walk-in closet, a dining area, a sofa bed, and most of all, a private balcony that stretches the full width of the room. Opening up the curtains and basking in the unadulterated views of blue skies and azure waters (we can count on one hand the number of little fishing boats and cabin cruisers spotted throughout the whole trip) with a cup of coffee every morning became some of our favourite moments on the trip.
We recommend booking one of the 154 premium suites at The Palace, situated on the upper decks, which also comes with a host of exclusive privileges like 24-hour butler concierge service, access to exclusive dining areas, a gym and spa, a Palace guest-only pool (more on that later), plus priority booking for most entertainment offerings that proves to be extremely handy. Less queuing, more playing.
While cruise liners aren’t usually known for their culinary prowess, the F&B options on board the Genting Dream are certainly solid. I’m told that the founder set out to revitalise the perception of cruise food, and it shows. After a complimentary happy hour cocktail at Tributes’ al fresco patio to take in the late autumn breeze and gorgeous golden hour, we kick off our first evening with a teppanyaki dinner at Umi Uma. The seafood (tiger prawns and scallops) and meats (Okinawa pork and wagyu) are all delicious, but the stars of the show might be the chefs who flip, juggle and holler away at each other across their stations, keeping the entire restaurant in fits of laughter.
There are over 20 restaurants and bars on board to keep our hungry bellies happy, including Blue Lagoon that serves up some delightful laksa, satays, and other Southeast Asian fares, and steaks and fries at Prime Steakhouse by Mark Best. At the time of our stay, dessert stall Gelateria sadly isn’t open yet, but we imagine the variety of ice creams, sherbets, and frozen yoghurts are sure to be a hit with guests.
Tipplers should make time for a whisky and wine tasting or two (complete with complimentary delicious canapes) within the lushly-designed Johnnie Walker House and the Penfolds Wine Vault. In fact, throughout November, the liner is hosting the C’est La Sea gastronomy extravaganza to celebrate the Wine and Dine festival with a programme that includes Johnnie Walker whisky and chocolate pairings, bar-hopping tasting journeys to sample the best of each bar on board, as well as mixology and whisky workshops hosted by the likes of Macey & Sons founder Jonathan Macey.
FUN AND GAMES
Once you’re all fuelled up, take your pick from a jam-packed programme that reveals why some savvy planning is so important; luckily, our personal butler is on hand to make a few calls. Believe us when we say there’s a lot to do onboard, and the best part is that there’s something for everybody. Adrenaline seekers are sure to love the waterslide park (next to the deck 16 main pool) towered by six gigantically colourful slides, the highly popular bowling alley (you’ll have to book in advance), rock climbing area, and the first-come-first-serve ropes and zipline course (tip: long pants are required) that resembles something of a Survivor-esque obstacle race; there’s nothing quite like gliding across a 35-metre zipline on the fringe of the massive liner above the ocean.
For those with a fear of heights or who desire a more tranquil staycation at sea, the Palace-exclusive private swimming pool nestled on deck 18 is the place to be. Away from the crowds, it’s here where we feel total serenity as we lay out on one of the loungers, a glass of freshly squeezed juice in hand, whiling the hours away to sounds of the waves in the background while soaking up the sun. As sunset falls, our booking at the deck 15 Crystal Life Spa comes to lull us away from this oasis, but not before we steal a few snaps at the nearby Instagram-worthy coconut-shaped rattan huts.
Our wellness treatment featuring Himalaya hot stones and a lavender oil massage is just what we need to rejuvenate our tired muscles, and a nearby gym and yoga studios also offer daily classes to help health buffs stay on track. Across the vessel is the Zouk Beach Club, which is temporarily turned into an outdoor cinema showing blockbusters such as Aquaman and Resident Evil (tip: have your food and cocktails to-go and enjoy them here). Those who’d actually like to dance the night away? To the Zouk nightclub it is, reminiscent of its uber-cool Singapore namesake.
We can't think of a better place to wrap our final evening than at the Zodiac Theatre on deck 6, where Sonio: A Tale of Two Dreams takes our breath away with a gorgeous one-hour spectacle of ballroom dancing, music, acrobatics, and theatrical showmanship featuring international professional dancers and glittering costumes. I’m told that new productions are continuously introduced so keep an eye out.
SAFE AND SOUND
With safety at the top of mind, Genting Dream has taken new measures to ensure guests can ‘cruise with confidence’, including a 100% fresh air ventilation system that ensures no re-circulation between cabins, contact tracing (via a little TRACEY device guests carry at all times), speedy online check-in, sanitiser stations dotted all around, and a fully-equipped clinic. All passengers are required to be fully vaccinated for at least 14 days and tested 48 hours prior. Personally, we find the liner to be impeccably clean and well maintained, and knowing that the liner is the first to receive the certification in infection prevention for the maritime industry (CIP-M) certainly helps to put our minds at ease.
These are just some of the extra touches that make a voyage aboard Genting Dream so special; in fact, it’s completely upended what I imagined a cruise vacation to be. It’s a delightful escape from the familiar, complete with unparalleled panoramas, hip entertainment, and legit dining options whether you’re here with the whole family, a special loved one, or for a rollicking bachelorette or bachelor party. It’s a truly memorable staycation-at-sea experience that we already look forward to returning to.