My family enjoys going on a cruise. I’ve been on a cruise getaway almost every consecutive year since I was 7 till I was in my teens and started realising that hanging out with my friends in malls is way cooler. Since then, I’ve never stepped onboard a cruise till two weeks ago. I guess going on a cruise is the next best thing to a staycation during this pandemic.
Even though it was my first time on Dream Cruises, I felt like I knew what to expect onboard the ship. You could say that I was rather well-prepared for the trip because my parents went several times with Dream cruises before and during the pandemic. They told me that it was as enjoyable and true enough, it isn’t a very fantastic trip even though everyone on social media is hyping about how fun it is to be on a cruise.
Nonetheless, I can’t deny the fact that it felt good to just step off the island and get out into the sea. So I wouldn’t discourage anybody from doing sea-cation but if you want to, here are 7 things you need to know before you go on a cruise with Dream Cruises.
1. You can check in earlier than the given timing by Dream Cruises.
I’m not sure if Genting Dream Cruises will hate me for telling you this but you can actually head to the cruise centre to do the COVID-19 test earlier than your scheduled timings. I was scheduled for the test at 5.45 pm but I went to take my test around 12 pm. And regulars who have been to this cruise many times would also come way ahead of others.
The benefits of boarding the cruise early are plenty. You can get your lunch onboard at one of their inclusive restaurants (since your Dream Cruises ticket is inclusive of all meals onboard) or speciality restaurants (where you have to pay to dine). On top of that, you will have time to make reservations for the use of pools, gyms and other facilities. Given that most of us would have forked out hundreds of dollars for the cruise getaway, why not make your money’s worth by heading there early?
2. Be prepared to wait for a period of time before you go onboard.
If you’re not staying at one of their Palace suites, then do be prepared to wait and queue. When you reach Marina Bay Cruise centre, you have to head up to level 2 to deposit your luggage (if you wish to) and then head up to do your COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test (ART). The whole screening test took about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the crowd. Since we went there early, the waiting time isn’t very long. Within 5 minutes, we were asked to head to one of the booths to do the swab test.
After the test, we were ushered to the waiting area to wait for our results. Health Promotion Board will first notify you via your TraceTogether app before you receive the SMS notification.
After the test, you still got to queue to check in. They will check your passports and issue you the Tracey token which you must carry with you at all times. The boarding time is approximately 2 pm so we still have to wait for our turn to get on board. By the time, when it was our turn, it was already 2.30 pm.
Thus I would suggest bringing some things to do there in order to kill time. You can read a book or catch up with some work in the waiting area. They will also hand out their daily schedule or newsletter when you can find out what the events happening that day onboard. You can spend the time planning what you would like to do.
3. The food at Dream Cruises inclusive restaurants is not that great so be prepared to pay if you want better quality food.
Your Dream Cruises ticket is inclusive of all meals but you can only enjoy your ‘free meals’ at their inclusive restaurants like Dream Dining Room Lower (Western food), Dream Dining Room Upper (Chinese food) and the Lido (International buffet). We prefer dining at the Lido because you can try a variety of food. However, they are some hits and misses. I would say the food there is average but at least, you get to try some spicy food from the halal section or Indian food at their vegetarian section. Somehow the breakfast nasi lemak there tastes pretty good. Do try it!
If you did not already know, Dream Cruises is a halal-friendly cruise with halal dining options. Currently, the halal food section is only available at The Lido and the snack bar. There is also a prayer room on Deck 5.
As for the beverages, they serve syrup processed juices. If you want quality drinks like a glass of fresh fruit juice or iced lemon tea, you will have to pay extra for it.
The food standard at the Dream Dining Room Lower was especially poor. I think we’ve been served dishes which were made out of cheap ingredients. We did not quite enjoy the western breakfast we had because it was obviously prepared in a haste.
The Chinese food at Dream Dining Room Upper tasted slightly better. That explains why this restaurant is always packed and sometimes you will have to queue to get in. On some occasions, we were asked to head to other restaurants because the restaurant has reached its full capacity.
We heard that the speciality restaurants like Prime Steakhouse by Mark Best and Umi Uma offers great food but we did not want to fork out extra since we have already forked out $500 just for this sea-cation. A more affordable option is to dine at The lobby cafe on Deck 6. They offer several local food dishes and pastries at affordable prices.
4. There’s a 24-hour snack bar and you can pack food to bring to your rooms to eat.
There’s a 24-hour snack bar where you can munch on potato wedges, chicken nuggets, curry puffs, fried bee hoon and other small bites like buns and sandwiches.
They also provide drinks like apple juice, orange juice, coffee, tea and milk. Strangely, I’ve seen several people asking for milk which is dispensed from the machine. It tastes just like UHT milk except that it is cold and a little frothy.
And if you are feeling peckish at night, you can actually ask them to pack so that you can bring it back to the room to eat. By the way, you can also do take-aways for your meals if you want to have your meals in the room. You can call their reception and make a request.
5. The Balcony State Rooms at Dream Cruises are superb and well-furnished.
We got the Balcony Deluxe stateroom which is only slightly bigger than the Balcony stateroom. I believe that there isn’t much of a difference between the rooms except for the size of it.
I can’t complain anything about the room except that the curtains appeared to be quite dusty. Other than that, everything else is great. I love their ultra-comfy mattress and beddings. The ensuite bathroom is well-maintained and very clean. It even has a bathtub!
There’s a small balcony where you can go out to sunbathe. It’s nice to just chill at the balcony and enjoy some quiet time to yourself. You can also hang your laundry there if you intend to wash some of your clothes.
Toiletries like toothbrushes, shampoo, body soap, lotion and hair conditioner are all provided. There’s a hairdryer installed under the dressing table too.
6. You will need to make reservations to use the swimming pools, jacuzzi and gym.
Due to the strict social distancing measures, they can only allow a certain number of people to be using these facilities for a limited period of time. I recommend making your reservations right after you board the ship. Otherwise, you may have to queue just to book a slot. You are only entitled to use the pool or jacuzzi for up to 1 hour per day.
The gym is another popular spot too. It’s usually fully booked and we regret not booking it on the first day. We ended up having to wait until someone leaves so that we can enter the gym. However, I must say that the gym is pretty amazing. It is a state-of-the-art gym equipped with advanced training and exercise equipment. I enjoy using treadmills and other exercise machines but could only stay up to an hour and a half.
As for the pool slides, you just have to queue and wait for your turn. We did not try their slides but judging by what we saw, the slides are only frequented by kids.
7. You can join their free workshops, activities and attend the evening shows.
One of the Dream Cruises highlights is the evening entertainment. There’s usually a magic show or acrobatic performances onboard. At Dream cruise, these shows are held at the Zodiac Theatre on Deck 7. Bookings can be made via their Dream Cruise app. (Do not that the usage of the Dream Cruises app is free of Wi-fi charges.)
In all honesty, I didn’t quite enjoy the shows presented to us. Each show is only 45 minutes long and some parts of it were entertaining and some were not.
As for the workshops and classes, some are complimentary while some require you to pay. The free workshops are popular and they usually get snapped up real first. It’s on a first-come-first-serve basis so you have to arrive about 30 minutes earlier at the location to reserve a spot for yourself. We actually could not take part in some of the workshops because, by the time we reached the venue, it was all fully booked.
Again, it’s all due to the safe distancing measures where they had to keep the group size small. I guess you could say we were utterly disappointed and bored during the trip.
If you want to try out their Rope course, you will also have to queue and wait for your turn. Due to the rain, the attraction wasn’t open for the most part of our trip. Hence, we did not try out the Rope course or the mini-golf.
Another attraction to check out is their Esc Experience Centre which is located on Deck 17. It’s a VR/AR arcade centre and it is equipped with some of the latest gadgets and simulators. However, you will have to pay for the experience. On the last night of the trip, they will usually offer happy hour deal where you can enjoy 2 games at the price of SGD 22.
My Verdict of Dream Cruises
Overall, it was a good getaway for me and my husband but we both did not quite enjoy our trip on board Dream Cruises at all. The long waiting time and queues are the downsides to the whole cruise experience. Service also wasn’t that great idea. I had trouble contacting their reception for help after 8 pm.
When I posted a video of my Dream Cruises experience on TikTok, some of the followers recommended the Royal Caribbean cruise. So we might explore that cruise next time but as for now, we are really hoping to travel across borders soon.
You can watch my video review on Dream Cruises right here!
While waiting for more VTL to open up, you can check out some of these places here in Singapore.