I took a 'trip' to Korea in the midst of a pandemic: A first look at Dream Cruises' Korea-themed seacation

With the way things are right now, being able to jet off to South Korea for a vacation is nothing short of a fantasy.

At least, that's what I thought until I attended a media preview of Dream Cruises' Korea-themed "seacation" experience, Rhythm of Korea, on board the World Dream.

Let's just say if you're travel-starved like me, the themed itinerary, which runs from Feb 21 to Mar 31, is probably the next best thing to turn your travel fantasies into reality.

Safety first

The experience began with an antigen rapid test, a somewhat sobering reminder that as much as I'd like it to be, the pandemic isn't over yet.

To board the World Dream vessel, all passengers have to get swabbed and pass a health screening at the testing facility on the third storey of the cruise centre's carpark.

Fortunately, the swabbing itself was more ticklish than painful and the testing process was a fuss-free affair.

PHOTO: AsiaOne/Kimberly Anne Lim

Less than an hour later, I was striding down the boarding bridge, desperately trying to pretend that I was making my way onto a plane instead of a ship anchored at Marina Bay Cruise Centre.

Welcomed by cheerful employees in traditional Korean attire and the dulcet tones of Arirang playing on the ship's sound system, it felt as if I'd stepped into a portal and emerged in Seoul. 

Street food and snacks galore

One of the biggest facets of any culture — and one of the first things I seek out whenever I go on vacation — is the food. On board the World Dream, we were treated to delights such as pajeon (savoury pancakes) and kimbap (rice rolls). And what's a Korean meal without some tangy, spicy kimchi?

While I'm no culinary expert, I've been to Korea several times, and the food served on board certainly did not disappoint.

PHOTO: AsiaOne/Kimberly Anne Lim

For those who'd like to get a little more hands on, you will also be able to attend cooking classes to make your own kimchi and kimbap.

To complete the whole travel fantasy, you can even buy souvenirs including Jeju chocolates, rice wine and Korean sauces on board.

Feast your eyes on hanbok

Besides just filling their stomachs, guests will also be able to get their fill of traditional Korean culture.

PHOTO: AsiaOne/Kimberly Anne Lim

Catch a hanbok fashion show which displays exquisite designs hailing from different eras, or while away your time playing games favoured by ancient Joseon nobility, such tuho and arrows, where one tries to throw arrows into a pot.

Unfortunately, guests won't be able to try on the hanbok due to safety and sanitary concerns, I was told.

Fulfill your K-pop star dreams

I wasn't able to try everything out in the few hours I spent on board, but there's more in store for guests on the full two- or three-night cruise to nowhere.

Get a makeover to look like a Korean celeb of your choice with the "hair-ppiness" styling workshop.

If you want to take it a step further and live out your K-pop star dreams, you'll be able to take K-pop dance lessons (I hear the curriculum includes BTS' and Blackpink's songs), as well as Korean language classes.

For those who are already an expert on all things Korean, try out the K-culture trivia quiz for a chance to win some prizes.

ALSO READ: I took a cruise to nowhere and recommend it for anyone looking to get away, despite the 2 Covid-19 tests and safe distancing measures

Where to book

Dream Cruises is running a festive promotion from now till Feb 28. Prices start from $99 per person for a balcony twin-sharing cabin (not inclusive of additional port charges and gratuity). In any case, it's cheaper than a plane ticket to Korea.

To book, visit their website or call 6808 2288.

kimberlylim@asiaone.com