We had the great opportunity to be the first to do an inspection tour of the new cruise liner “Ocean Dream” docked in international waters off the coast of Pattaya! We are also the first to bring you a sneak peek into the this great ship’s facilities and itineraries for the lucky passengers to join them for their maiden voyage. Malaysia has Star Cruises and now Thailand has “Ocean Dream ” the first luxury cruise liner in Thailand to ply the route between Pattaya to Koh Samui into Cambodia and back again to Pattaya over 4 days and 3 nights. This ocean going vessel was newly refurbished by a Chinese consortium so most of the crew are Chinese and Thai but don’t worry, they speak perfect English and Thai, making them very capable and efficient to handle any questions or requirements from Thai and international travelers. One thing to say the least is the impression created by the staff and crew of the vessel that the service was impeccable and one could almost say with military precision like a well oiled machine. You are almost waited on the moment you embark at the reception counter with warm greetings from the very polite crew.
Some elements within the interior décor of the ship will still need to be replaced since this is a refurbished ship built from an Italian dockyard several years ago but what is lacking in the interior finishing is more than made up for in terms of the novelty of the tour itself and the lavish buffet spreads available any time of the day and yes, like all international cruise liners there is a mini casino onboard to keep you entertained while sailing as well as a pub and discotheque to keep you jiving in the night till the wee hours of the morning not to mention a small theater for those who just can’t keep off the movie scenes. The overall ambience and décor of the ship reflects somewhat Chinese opulence with red carpets, wood paneled walls and a red and pink disco alternating as a pub. The dining areas are located on 2 decks, one for international cuisine which is mostly buffet style and the other a Chinese restaurant which we are sure will serve really good Chinese dishes that should be a chance from the regular Thai food choices. We were assured that most food components were made available from local Thai stockists attesting to the freshness of the produce, which we have to say was really fresh when served up at the buffet table.
The “Ocean Dream” cruise liner has a capacity for 420 passengers and cabin types vary from the VIP Suites to the standard four bunk bed cabins. The VIP suites have the best service without doubt such as a 24 hour butler service where the butler is actually just standing outside your cabin door to attend to your every beck and call during your stay onboard.
Somewhat like being treated similarly to a king while on your cruise! As with any cruise liner, cabins are not quite like a hotel room as space is limited so do not expect a huge fantastic hotel room but the cabins are comfortable enough with attached toilets and the usual standard hotel facilities. The point is to enjoy being out at sea on a cruise liner and not to stay cooped up in your cabins!
What can we say about the food…totally scrumptious! The buffet is a gastronomical delight laden with fresh produce from the local sea and farms. Expect succulent green mussels and large tasty sea prawns with a variety of dips, crunchy soft shell crabs and battered calamari rings, moist roasted chicken and lamb, a variety of western and Thai stir fried dishes, a choice of soups including the traditional Thai Tom Yum all brought to you fresh off the market on-shore. So regardless of if you are expecting a romantic sojourn on your cruise of a gastronomical binging fest while on your cruise you can expect four whole days of unlimited eating at the buffet table. The Chinese restaurant one deck above offers traditional and fusion styled Chinese food, these are ala-carte orders and not part of the cruise package. Nevertheless, it is still a good experience to dine while you cruise.
Entertainment on board are for adults as well as children traveling with adults. For the grown ups there is a pub that serves a good blend of cocktails, mock tails and plain old shoot the breeze concoctions. The pub also doubles up as a discotheque belting out the latest in music genre with a if we must say 70s to 80s style décor reminding you of the “Saturday Night Fever ” days ala John Travolta with clear Plexiglas platforms for dancing and a revolving mirror ball. On the other hand for the kids there is a small swimming pool on the upper deck complete with deck chairs and seating area for adults as well to enjoy the sun deck and ocean breeze bearing drink in hand while sun-tanning. A basketball court and sport deck also serves as a venue for over active kids and adults alike to expend their stored up energy and the younger kids can indulge in the many toys available in a playroom specially made for them to keep occupied.
The cruise onboard the Ocean Dream starts from Pattaya where the ship will be docked at the Laem Chabang port-of-call. Passengers are advised to be there about 2 hours before hand to make sure that everything is in order. Passengers are to also note that port charges (very much like airport tax charges), BAF and cruise service charges are not included in the price of the cruise package and will have to be paid on-board. Passenger who would like to go ashore to visit Koh Samui and Sihanouk in Cambodia will also have to pay additional entertaining charges which is an option only for those who want to travel ashore. The journey from Laem Chabang to Koh Samui Island takes about a day and another day from Koh Samui to Sihanouk Ville in Cambodia. The remaining day is for the cruise back to Laem Chabang. Boarding on the cruise ship requires passengers to carry their national IDs and Passports, however visa requirements will follow the issuing country’s regulation on visa laws. Thai and ASEAN passengers do not require a visa for entry into Cambodia but international passengers will have to check with their respective embassies for visa issues. Passengers heading on-shore in Koh Samui and Sihanouk Ville will have approximately 4 to 5 hours on-shore to explore and purchase any items they like including duty free products of which the same rule applies for duty free shopping of one carton of cigarettes (10 packs per carton) and 1 liter of alcohol. At the moment for the maiden voyage, duty-free goods are not available on-board but will be available in subsequent cruises.
The casino onboard the ship has a few poker and black jack tables as well as a dice game and along the sides are a variety of slot machines for those who are not into card games. The house rules In the casino follows the gaming rules laid down by the Macau Casino regulations and players are advised to read and understand the rules before playing. Tradable currencies are US Dollars and Thai Baht but on-board there is a card system that works similarly to a prepaid card known as a One-card solution. Passengers can deposit any amount they want into the card at the reception counter and use it to purchase casino chips or food and beverage as well as on-shore trips. The balance in the card will be refunded to the passenger prior to disembarking after the cruise.
All-in-all this is a great opportunity for domestic travelers in Thailand and foreign tourist alike to try a short cruise experience from Thailand to Cambodia. Packages for the Ocean Dream cruise can be purchased in advance and this is an option for visitors to Pattaya to try a local cruise which is the first of its kind in Thailand. Tours in Thailand will now include this new attraction on their travel and tour itineraries for Thailand. Experiencing an ocean cruise in Thailand is something new even for the Thai people and very different from local small cruises aboard dive ships and the like. The service on board Ocean Dream cruise line is comparable to a luxury holiday with all the perks including a great experience to go out at sea. Thailand can now boast of a cruise service as part of their domestic and international travel tours and sightseeing options for Thailand. So why not be the lucky few to be onboard for the Ocean Dream maiden voyage and gain the experience of a lifetime that differentiates a regular holiday from a super one!