The last time I left Hong Kong was two years ago, on a Macau day trip to see Shawn Mendes! So when we were recently invited to review the Genting Dream Seacation, a two-night luxury cruise from Hong Kong, we jumped at the chance.
Our gang of four took to the gangplank with great anticipation, having chosen the midweek two-night cruise. We were booked into Genting Dream Palace, billed rather enticingly as a “luxury ship-within-a-ship”. It certainly compares well to club access in a five-star hotel or flying business class.
For one thing, there is so much to do on board – and trust me, your time will fly by. There’s plenty of information on the website to help plan the activities you’d like to do. Just make sure you pick up a copy of the Dream Daily at check-in for the full rundown of events and activities onboard.
Formalities & Safety
Genting Dream is currently offering its Seacation packages to fully vaccinated HKID holders. You have to show your vaccination record, and all passengers, including kids, must present a negative PCR test taken 48 hours prior. We took our tests at the Community Testing Centre; it was quick and easy to book online, with the negative test result arriving efficiently in my iAM Smart app 24 hours later.
You need to check in online, which speeds up the overall process. It took around 30 minutes from arriving at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, to boarding the ship, including Immigration and baggage x-ray. A word of warning, it’s strictly prohibited to take alcohol onboard. Officials will bag and tag your bottle, to be collected on return to HK.
On disembarkation, you need to download and complete the HK government health declaration, choosing Kai Tak Cruise Terminal which offsets the need for quarantine. Another tip is to download the Genting Dream app; this was particularly handy for settling our incidentals bill at the end of the cruise.
The cruise effectively operates in a ‘vaccine bubble’. Along with passengers, all crew are fully vaccinated and regularly tested. Once onboard, each passenger must keep the contact ‘TRACEY’ close by at all times. Each of us wore our device around our necks like a backstage pass. Hand-washing stations are dotted all around and at restaurant entrances. The spotlessly clean ship is operating at 50% capacity – social distancing made easy.
After dropping our bags off at our cabin, we spent the first hour exploring and quickly got our bearings. Decks 6, 7 and 8 were teeming with restaurants, bars, shops, the casino, entertainment and the impressive Zodiac Theatre.
Crystal Life spa and fitness is located on Deck 15. Up one level is the main pool deck, kids’ water park and Little Dreamers Club. On decks 17 to 20, you’ll find a wealth of activities including Waterslide Park, a rope course and zipline, a jogging track, sundeck, mini golf, glow bowling, Zouk beach club outdoor cinema and a nightclub, to name but a few!
Palace guests can enjoy some exclusive benefits on Deck 17, with the inclusive Palace fine dining restaurant and the Palace pool and sundeck on Deck 18.
All areas are well signposted and maps at each lift with a helpful ‘You Are Here’ light made navigating the ship pretty easy.
Main Pool Deck (Deck 16) and Palace Pool & Sundeck (Deck 17)
You need to book slots for the pool on Deck 16, but there are plenty of sun loungers where you can stay as long as you want. There’s a great water park for younger kids including a couple of good slides, shallow pools and a splash area. Our teens imagined how much fun they would have had if they were aged four and six!
Waterslide Park boasts five impressive water slides and a couple of them are pretty steep (too scary for me!) and got the big thumbs up.
We loved The Palace Pool and Sundeck, truly a tranquil oasis on the top deck of the ship, with amazing panoramic views of the South China Sea. The sun deck was certainly luxury-hotel standard and a real highlight for us all – we visited twice on the same day.
Rope Course and Zipline (Deck 18)
This is very popular and operates on a first-come-first-served basis. The queues did build up pretty quickly; expect to wait around 45 minutes at peak times. It’s safety first, too; you get fitted with a harness and hardhat, and the crew show you how to fasten the double clip system before you head up onto the course. I must admit, I didn’t find the clips very easy to manage so the teens took it in turns helping me! Word of warning; this is not for the faint-hearted – you’re up high above the South China Sea and some of the obstacles are quite challenging. I found it both exhilarating and terrifying in equal proportions!
It was too windy for the zipline (I can’t tell you how relieved I was!); our teens were slightly disappointed, so instead they flew around the rope course a second time while I looked on with my wobbly legs back on firmer ground.
Zodiac Theatre (Deck 6/7)
Straggling two decks, the hugely impressive Zodiac Theatre boasts 999 seats. Do check out the shows onboard during your trip; we saw the world class, Sonio A Tale of Two Dreams and it totally blew us away. Palace guests enjoy priority seating.
Wine & Dine
There are wonderful dining options aboard, so plan accordingly. In fact, there are over 20 venues throughout the ship. Palace guests can enjoy inclusive set menus at six specialty restaurants, with menus released a few hours before service. Non-Palace guests get to enjoy two inclusive restaurants as well as paid menus at the specialty restaurants.
On the first evening, we loved the teppanyaki set at Umi Uma. This is one of the most popular restaurants, so for super teppanyaki theatre and great food, you must book ahead.
The Palace Restaurant & Lounge offers inclusive breakfast, all day tea, coffee and juice as well as set lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. The service here is superb and the dining room comfortable, with beautifully décor and amazing sea views. There’s a very handy dedicated lift linking the Palace decks 15 to 17 to speed up moving around the ship.
We had dinner in the Palace Restaurant on our second night as there was a nice four-course set menu. Choices include a succulent rack of lamb, and stir-fried wagyu beef with rice which hit the spot. Our only mild criticism was the portion sizes were quite small for hungry teens and the mains were all served lukewarm.
Bars are dotted all over the ship; we had a nightcap in Bar 360 and enjoyed the live entertainment. Drinks are reasonably priced, with good value packages also available.
There’s plenty of choice in both Standard and Palace categories to suit. Our Deluxe Palace Stateroom was well sized for four people. The queen-sized bed was declared ‘more comfortable than most five-star hotels!’. The pull-out sofa bed was also quite comfortable, made a little more luxurious with Egyptian cotton duvets and pillows. A curtain could be drawn to separate the room in two, giving a little privacy and added cosiness. The bathroom was a good size with double basins and a separate bath and there was surprisingly good water pressure in the shower.
Amongst all the fun and action, make time to enjoy the sheer tranquillity of being in the middle of the glistening South China Sea. Opening the curtains and balcony doors on our first morning, we were all struck by the gentle, soothing waves and vast expanse of sea.
You can find quiet spots throughout the ship to soak up the serenity. Golden Hour at the Palace pool deck was a highlight (with a cheeky sundowner in hand!).
Your personal butler
If you book into The Palace, make good use of your personal butler for reservations. We were a bit slow on a couple, so we missed out. A big shout-out to our butler Hazel who was super helpful and certainly added a level of personal service (and fun) to our trip.
It might sound a bit clichéd, but there really was plenty to do for all ages; we saw quite a few multigenerational families enjoying themselves. We loved every moment of our stay onboard Genting Dream – we really didn’t want to leave. Will we go back again? For sure; there were so many activities we didn’t have time to try.
See more in our Things to Do section!