Why luxury cruises are perfect for solo travellers and not just families

The thought of going on a cruise might immediately throw you into a relaxed mode as you imagine yourself shutting off reality.

Well, not for me.

When I first accepted the assignment, it was with a mix of trepidation and anticipation.

First and foremost on my mind was my fear of the vast, deep sea. I felt brave (or crazy) to agree to go in spite of my somewhat irrational fear.

Irrational, because I'd never been on a cruise before, where I'd be, in my mind, surrounded by the dark and mysterious waters.

Nevertheless, I was ready to be impressed since it was my maiden trip on the high seas.

After all, I had nothing to compare the experience to. What else could come close to sleeping and waking up on a huge cruise - in the middle of nowhere - far away from land?

A few times during the trip, I'd catch myself wondering where exactly I was.

But for the rest of it, I was too busy creating my own memorable experience on board the luxury cruise liner Genting Dream by Dream Cruises.

I must admit that this was a trip of many firsts for me and quite simply, it was unforgettable.

It's rather remarkable that I now believe that fancy cruise vacations aren't just for families with kids or wealthy retirees - it's a fabulous way for singles or solo travellers in need of a little 'me time'.

Here are all the reasons why I'm going on more cruise trips:

1. Experience a different way of doing solo travels

Waterslide ParkPhoto: AsiaOne

Singaporeans enjoy taking weekend trips to nearby countries, including Hong Kong. So why not head to the country and hop on a cruise right away?

As this was a two-night fly-cruise trip, I took a straight flight to Hong Kong and thereafter boarded the Genting Dream at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal.

Hong Kong city skyline at nightPhoto: AsiaOne

Just taking in the view of the cruise itself was pretty intimidating.

Once on the cruise, I was able to admire the breathtaking skyline at night, made even more spectacular thanks to the city's famous bright, neon lights.

2. Get ready to be pampered no matter where you dine

Dream Dining RoomPhoto: AsiaOne

Passengers on board the Genting Dream will be spoilt for choice when it comes to meal time.

From the award-winning Bistro by Mark Best - which serves a mean steak - to the expansive buffet venue The Lido, there's something for everyone indeed. If breakfast with a view is your ideal kind of holiday, head for the latter.

I'd recommend starting off your cruise vacation the right way at the luxurious Bistro. The dimly-lit restaurant's wait staff will make you feel right at home and if you want to feel like royalty on your first night - this is the place to be.

Bistro by Mark BestPhoto: AsiaOne

What I thought was the best F&B offering came in the form of the cruise's very own bakery, BreadBox. I say - grab a multigrain croissant and latte to go with you as you explore every nook and cranny on the cruise.

BreadBoxPhoto: AsiaOne

3. There's always something to do - rain or shine

For a newbie like me, I was amazed at the number of ways you could keep yourself occupied while on a cruise. In fact, I barely had time to myself in the comfort of my own room because I was always involved in various activities.

From glow-in-the-dark bowling, ballroom dancing to tackling an obstacle ropes course.

Glow-in-the-dark bowling alleyPhoto: AsiaOne

And all these just before shaking it off at Singapore's iconic entertainment institution, Zouk, located right on board. Yes, so you will have the added pleasure of telling people you've partied on the ocean.

Photo: AsiaOne

If I could pick one activity for the fun-spirited and daredevils, go for the ropes course. I'd never gone on anything that challenging before in my life so if a weakling like me managed to tackle that - I'm pretty sure anyone can.

But if ziplining from one end of the ship to another with just the deep, blue sea beneath you sounds a little too much - perhaps skip this and enjoy the humongous slides of varying speeds at the Waterslide Park.

Photo: AsiaOne

My only regret is not having the time to get myself all pampered at the in-house beauty parlour, Le Salon. I made a mental note to try out a manicure or blow-dry but alas, I was too busy stepping out of my comfort zone doing things I'd never dreamt of trying previously.

Crystal Life SpaPhoto: AsiaOne

4. You'll feel safe even if you're out for late night entertainment

Photo: AsiaOne

The cruise has a plush 999-seat Zodiac Theatre where live productions such as the cruise's signature production show 'Voyage of a Lover's Dream' are held. There's also the live theatrical show of the global television phenomenon 'China's Got Talent - The Dream Experience'.

If you choose to watch either of the shows in the late evening, grab a drink after at Bar City, which is where you get to choose from five venues to chill at including the world's first Johnnie Walker House at sea. Opt for the cocktail bars Mixt or Bar 360 and watch a live band perform till the wee hours of the morning. I did this with a few newly-made friends - but not before we tore up the dance floor at Zouk. Or at least that's what we'd like to think happened.

5. Indulge in some retail therapy on your own 

The Dream BoutiquesPhoto: AsiaOne

Candies, beauty products, souvenirs, expensive jewellery - you name it, they have it. A new friend that I'd made on the trip had wanted to purchase something she'd misplaced along the way so we thought we'd just hop onto the elevator and alight on one of the floors we had become more familiar with.

We stepped out on the wrong floor and boy, was it the best mistake we made.

We alighted on the level where the cruise's shopping arcade, The Dream Boutiques, was located. We were then greeted by international brands such as Cartier and Bvlgari as well as rows upon rows of designer shades, makeup and fragrances.

As my friend said at the time: "How did we even miss this?!"

It's no exaggeration when I say the cruise is humongous. The fact that I'd almost missed out on a level where I could spend money on pretty things sounds almost blasphemous to me.

Oh, and it's duty-free.

6. The room is all you need

Balcony Stateroom, which is about 20 sq metres big.
Photo: AsiaOne

Ironically, if I could turn back time and do things differently, I'd really just stay in my room and enjoy the sea breeze with a drink as I lounge on the balcony.

Sure, I'd throw in that manicure I missed but I think amongst everything - and I know this might seem utterly boring to some - I would have loved to spend more time in the room.

For my trip, I was lucky enough to be given a Balcony Stateroom, which is about 20 sq metres big with a maximum occupancy of three to four people. It's perfect for young couples, small families or in my case - singletons.

Again, I must stress that as someone who's never been on a cruise before, I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy the type of luxury one can get at hotels. The bed was fit for a queen, which is why I loved it so much. I can't get over how comfortable it was.

The room was spanking clean and beyond what I had imagined. I thought I'd feel claustrophobic in my room but no, not a chance. The bathroom was spacious and featured exclusive toiletries from the in-house spa too.

Photo: AsiaOne

I also had easy access to room service crew (who were genial and so helpful) just by ringing them on the phone, and enjoyed turn-down service every night.

The service onboard Genting Dream was impeccable and that's all you really need to enjoy a solo trip abroad - warmth and care from people who are willing to go out of their way just to make your stay that much better.

The writer's trip was sponsored by Genting Hong Kong. 

Dream Cruises is part of the Genting Hong Kong family, which also includes the pioneering cruise line Star Cruises. Genting Dream is the first ship of this all-new fleet which made its debut in November 2016. Its sister ship, World Dream, is set to take the seas in November this year.​

ssandrea@sph.com.sg

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