Posted November 20th, 2016, 05:28 PM
Welcome back, Capt. Ron .
Did you take any private tours? If you took a private tour in Saigon, did you meet the guide at the gate and was it easy to walk to? How did you get to the port in Hong Kong and if you were docked there overnight, were there mall buses to transport you to the local malls on the second day? Did you stay overnight on Bangkok rather than travelling back to the ship - how did that go? Any things not to miss, or anything to definitely avoid?
Did you have a good cruise, only you didn't say if you'd enjoyed your experience on Millie? We board her next month for the Christmas & New Year sailing .
Yes. We took private tours at every port, we did use the ship offered bus into Saigon were we met our food tour guide. The bus ticket and shore excursion people from Celebrity (checked before we left) both said we would be dropped off at Union Square a central part of the city. Well they ended up dropping us off at another location. We had to call our guide and he had to meet us there instead of the promised Union Square. Didn't bother us, but it did throw some other people off, our guide helped and called their guides to give them the new location. I complained on board to the Captains Club rep. and they put a 10% return of the cost onto our shipboard account.
The ports for Saigon and Da Nang are very
industrial ports/docks with nothing around them but shipping containers and cranes. The walk to get outside at Saigon wasn't very far, maybe 10 to 15 minutes and safe. The Da Nang port was maybe 15 minutes, just a little further, but not by much. There was some stalls for shopping at the Da Nang port as you entered the port/dock section. We paid the extra for our city/food tour guide at Da Nang to meet us at the ship, meeting point for buses etc. about 100/150 yards from where the ship is tied up at. I was glad I did, although, as he is an American living in Vietnam they wouldn't let him get as close up front as the other tour guides, so about 150 yards to get to him. Okay to walk out at Saigon, I would go ahead and pay the extra cost for Da Nang pick up, IMHO.
Hong Kong, we stayed at the Regal Oriental Hotel in Kowloon. Glad we stayed there as the other places in better locations were very crowded, day and night. Sidewalks very crowded, being from Los Angeles, we're not into such crowded places as others may be. One lady on board we met was from New York and stayed at the Holiday Inn (in town near the Tsim Sha Tsui Pier where the Star Ferry operates from) and said it reminded her of New York with the crowded sidewalks etc. But very central to all shopping etc. The Regal is in a more residential type area, much less traffic and less crowded. The bus system is pretty easy to use and close by from the Regal. Not such if any shopping but some restaurants close by, which we didn't go to.
From the hotel we took a taxi to the ship, don't remember the exact cost, maybe 65 to 80 Hong Kong dollars. Short ride, 20 minutes or so. Taxis not hard to find.
Bangkok, we had a [private guide pick us up and return us to the ship the following day. Stayed at the Mercure Bangkok Siem Hotel, near the train station and National Station. Nice place, cost about $78.00/night. The transport from the port into Bangkok is about 3 hours, about 1.5 hours to get to Bangkok, the the traffic starts and it's slow moving in the city itself. Being from LA I thought I had seen traffic, well now I have seen it for real. Unbelievable traffic. When our tour guide was taking us to the hotel on day one it took about 1.5 hours to move about 2 miles. They said our hotel was 10 minutes away without traffic, thinking it would have been faster to walk, unbelievable, if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.
Not to Miss, our overnight private junk for Ha Long Bay, best of the best as per everyone that joined us. Rented a private Junk from Indochinajunk, 10 cabins for the 16 of us. Met people on Cruise Critic that joined in. Was really a high light of all our tours. First class from start to finish and the food was better than on the ship.
More on the ship later.