5 days ago returned from our first trip on VTA. We did the Xmas , NYE trip from Singapore right around to Bangkok.
I can only rave about the ship. I had done copious amounts of research on this ship and read the blog everyday. As you know there were quite a few teething problems early on, but I can honestly say that we had a well run, spotless ship with wonderful food, fantastic staff and well prepared excursions.
I can recommend cabin 556...its a deluxe outside cabin, but this little one has a balcony..And we got all the goodies that the balcony suites got, for the lower price. Our Steward Rex was just wonderful.
I was alittle disappointed that the Jacuzzi wasn't on the ship but think it will go back on shortly, after all the renovations are finished.
The movies shown on the in room tv's were very dated and repeated in the month that we were on board. In the afternoons after long mornings excursions, it was nice to lie on the bed and relax with either a book or a movie, but as I said, the choice was very poor. Often not working or very poor sound.
The lecturers were all interesting, and the ones that were'nt history oriented were a welcome break.
I have to say that I think that one month in S.E.Asia was abit long as I ( and others) found them all abit the same. I dont know how many pagodas, golden buddha's ,water villages ,temples and museums we saw, but towards the end of the trip , so of us couldnt be bothered getting out of the bus. A bit like an ABC tour of Europe..( another bloody cathedral)
I was surprised and distressed by the rubbish ( plastic water bottles especially) strewn everywhere in all the countries that we visited..Also dismayed at the poverty..Also by the emaciated dogs in the thousands throughout Burma.
In regards to the pre and post cruise accomodation, VTA absolutely excelled. First class hotels and meals with VTA staff in the hotel at all times. Flights to Seim Reap were handled super efficiently to save guests having to fill out copious amounts of paperwork. It ran like clockwork. Excursion staff so patient with those guests ( theres always one or two) who dont listen to the excellent briefings and end up asking a million stupid questions..
Clothing. 99% of people wore very casual clothes at all times and that includes meals. Most wore 3/4 pants and t'shirts. I would suggest 1 good outfit only for the captains cocktail party ...there were 2 or 3 of those on our long trip but after the first one, we didnt go again. just alot of standing around..boring.
You are advised to wear sturdy walking shoes.. I took them, but wore thongs ( with a bit of glitter) everyday. super comfy and easy to slip on and off at all those temples. you just dont walk that far really to get sore feet.
Our best day was at Kota Kinabalu, where we hired a private guide to take us to see the Orangutans at Rasa Ria resort. Fantastic..VTA should do this..
The food in board was very nice. Lets face it, if I dont have to cook then its brilliant. The included wine was drinkable.
We met wonderful people on board and generally had a wonderful time and would go again on this ship. I would thoroughly research all excursions in case they did too much of the same thing.If so, I'd head off alone for the day.