Royal Caribbean’s “Cruise to Nowhere”

When this cruise was launched in November, I SWORE we wouldn’t do it. Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas and Genting’s Dream cruise are currently the only active cruises in the world. After all the cruise horror shows of last spring, who in their right mind would do this, I thought… And sure enough, in December, one of the cruises has to turn around (if you Google the cruise, this is basically all that will come up) as they had a suspected covid case. But what the news didn’t report was the case was a false alarm and Royal Caribbean boldly sent out the very next cruise, confident their safeguards had worked. Since then roughly 82,000 people have safely cruised. We now know many people who have gone, some multiple times. The resounding response was, in covid times, not being able to leave Singapore, this cruise is the best thing we have. So we “panic bought” ourselves a cruise 2 weeks ago, and on the 25th of March, away we went for our own 4 night cruise.

What’s the Nutmeggers review? We all agreed, this was a great covid vacation. Better for us as a family than a “staycation”. We enjoyed being away from Singapore, all the entertainment and the food. That being said, we are not cruisers. Ryan and I had previously been on one other cruise (celebrity cruise in Alaska). I think we both still feel the same. It’s a fun vacation, but not an all the time option for us. We don’t need or even really like being “entertained” all the time. Now in our 40’s, I think we can see the value in a cruise as a multigenerational vacation. As parents mobility declines and grandkids get older and more independent, a cruise would be an excellent way to get everyone together with the least resistance. It is also a good way to see remote areas (like Alaska). There is also the uncomfortable issue of cruises environmental impact. Being on this moving city (quantum if the seas is the 15th largest cruise ship in the world) really strikes home how catastrophic these beasts are for the environment. As the kids climbed on the rock wall and were blasted by smoke exhaust, it was hard not to consider this. So while I never say never to anything, I think if we did cruise again, it would be on something smaller.

A small review on the particulars of the cruise in case anyone in Singapore is reading this. For our family, have 2 connecting balcony rooms was perfect. The rooms and the balcony’s connected. With the connecting balcony’s, if your rooms don’t actually connect, that would be ok too. For our kids, eating in the main dining room was perfect and we didn’t feel we really needed any food “upgrades”. If we had eaten in a specialty restaurant, I would have probably picked Chops, the steakhouse. But our kids are still so inconsistent with their eating, that it probably would have been a waste. Here’s my quick review on the drinks package (we only bought the soda for Ryan and the kids and a coffee card for me). Ryan and I ended up saving $13 USD overall on drinks (and some friends bought us a drink one night). So if I could go back, I would have bought the two of us the package when we booked the cruise (it was significantly cheaper then). I would not buy the kids the soda package again as we lost money on that for sure. There are plenty of other drinks (juice, etc) and it’s so hot that they mostly drank water. I would pay out of pocket for those. 4 night vs 3 night? The timing of the 4 night was better for Ryan with work (he only had to take 1 day off). Our family would have been happy with the 3 night. We had seen and done everything in the 2 full days. It was nice to rest on the 3rd day, but not necessary.

Onto the pictures! I’ll try to review each aspect of the trip with the pictures. Enjoy the beautiful blue of the South China Sea!

That’s it! It’s fun to write a blog, a travel blog as I intended this to be. Hopefully a sign of things to come…💕

Marina Bay Sands Staycation

In Singapore, the staycation has been thoroughly embraced. It’s seen as your “economic duty” if you can afford it. While Ryan and I took a staycation 6 weeks ago to the Capella, the kids had yet to go anywhere. For them, the holy grail of hotels in Singapore is Marina Bay Sands and the infinity pool on the 57th floor. Since we moved here last January, Avery’s been asking to go. It doesn’t help that we stare at MBS out our condo windows.

This week was October break for our school, so it looked like a great time to go. For us with a “large” family, MBS gives us the best bang for our buck. So off we went on the 2 mile journey to MBS for our 2 night family staycation!

We arrived and this was the first experience 😳. This was the checkin line. Upon reflection, we should have been prepared for it as everyone’s trying to check in early to a hotel the size of a small city. But it was a Monday! It took about 30 minutes to get checked in. Full disclosure, both Ryan and I were on the fence about the “value” of this staycation. A lot of money for 3 hours of pool time… this line wasn’t helping….

So what is Marina Bay Sands? It’s a hotel, casino and LUXURY Mall. The house of Sands always wins at MBS. MBS is the largest hotel in Singapore. it cost an estimated S$8billion ($5.5B USD) to build (including the land reclamation). It was built in conjunction with a larger plan to protect Singapore from flooding and to add additional reservoir capacity to the growing city. The project was started 20 years ago. MBS opened 10 years ago. There’s a ton of additional land that’s yet to be developed. I can’t wait to see what Singapore’s skyline looks like in 10-20 years.

If you’re a geek like me and are interested in the project, here’s a good article on the marina barrage which holds the whole thing together:

Back to the pictures…

Everything is awesome!?!?

When the world is going mad, what do you do? Head to Legoland!

Our original plan for this weekend was to go to Bangkok. About a week ago things started looking less stable. Since we hadn’t bought our flights yet. We decided a big city wasn’t the right move right now. Then early in the week, Thailand imposed a 14 day quarantine on an expanded list of countries, including Singapore. No point traveling to sit in the hotel room. A few days later, they partially walked it back and said if you were a tourist you didn’t need to quarantine, but that was pretty confusing to us. We also began to worry Singapore might expand their quarantine list. Too many unknowns for us. As we were all pretty bummed about not going. After a few brainstorms, we decided to head just over the bridge to Malaysia and Legoland.

We went all in. We were in an “adventure” themed room.
We arrived on Saturday morning, from Singapore, with a little traffic at the border, it took us about an hour and forty five minutes to get there (without traffic it would be about an hour). We traveled by car with a driver. Still not ready to drive ourselves on the other side of the road. Since everything was basically empty, they let us check in immediately. At 10am! the kids were in heaven with all you can build blocks and a treasure hunt in our room!
The view from our room on the 6th floor.
Off we headed to the park!
First we ran into this LEGO elephant. Amazing.
Then we checked out “mini land”. Since this park is in Malaysia, most of the displays were buildings from Malaysia. Above is the petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur.
They had a Singapore display too, complete with a Merlion that would spit water at you when you pushed a button. That was all day fun for Liam and Avery.
LEGO Taj Mahal. Hope to get to the real one…
LEGO Angkor wat. We have a trip tentatively scheduled for may. Will we make it?
Then we headed to ninjago land. Ran into Kai on the way!
Took a ride on the falls ride in adventure land. Got soaked!
Watched the 4D LEGO movie. Very wet.
Built some cars and raced them. This was one if their favorite things that they did. We had to go back on Sunday to build again! predictably, Avery left in tears both times because “she wasn’t done!!”
Got some good races in!
Went on a “drop ride”. Little did Ryan know, you had to pull yourself to the top. Hmmm.
Back to the hotel for lunch and to change for the water park.
Ready to take on the water park! Not too many pics as we were too busy riding the slides. Both parks were fantastic from a ride perspective, Avery could ride everything but it was exciting enough for Liam and Ella. But, Ella was probably on the upper limit for who the park is fun for…
Ninjago was playing in the wave pool. If it hadn’t started to thunder and lightning (which they did NOT call the people out of the pool. Yikes!) they would have stayed in there all day. It was about 3:30 when it started to pour. Luckily we had already done all the slides. We headed back to the hotel to change.
Because I’m crazy and can’t let us rest, we headed to the sea life museum. This was a great, 45 minute experience. Would we have bothered if the weather had been nice? Probably not, but it was the perfect way to kill a rainy hour.
They all loved designing fish and setting them free to swim on the big screen. They have a similar program at the Norwalk aquarium. But it’s much more fun when there’s no one else waiting for a turn…
With the fish!
We then checked out a mall that was attached to Legoland. Found a grocery store with yummy ice cream! Groceries were MUCH cheaper in Malaysia. Tempted to stock up… the exchange rate is VERY in our favor. 1 ringitt is 25 cents USA. Another reason we love Malaysia.
We headed back to the hotel and met up with Liam’s friend, Faisal’s family who were also at the park for the weekend, celebrating his sisters birthday. Liam and Avery had a ton of fun building endless LEGO creations with their friends and we all ate dinner together. It was a great night!
The next morning, since the park didn’t open until 10, we took it slow. Avery loved playing with the legos in our room and looking out at the park. It was really very cute. The room was also great as it was 2 rooms, one with a king sized bed, the other with a bunk with a trundle. It was so nice to have a room designed for a “big” family. Asia is only really set up for the 1 child family….
We had our breakfast and met “the chef”. Asian hotels rock the buffet breakfast. You can get any food type you want. Asian, western, Indian… so. Much. Food.
Built one more tower with their friends. Then we hit the park to finish off the rides we missed the day before. Faisal’s family headed to the water park as they missed that the day before.
We were literally the only people in the kingdoms section. It was a completely surreal experience. We rode the dragon roller coaster twice in a row and could have kept going. I’m sure LEGO is in a conundrum about it. They have to be losing money. There are more employees in the park than patrons. But they are also a large employer in the area. So do they close to save money and continue the economic devastation this virus is having? Or lose money and keep employees. They have restricted their hours. They are only open 10am-6pm. My guess is eventually if things don’t return to normal they will have to close. That will be so sad…
My little criminals.
Einstein made from legos….
Driving school. Ella was a model student, obeyed all traffic laws. Avery, obeyed most. Liam, was a hot mess. Luckily we have a few more years until he turns 16…. the video was captured after he tried to do a u-turn to catch Avery. Fail.
LEGO boating is difficult. Liam sat this one out after his driving school ordeal…
Ella and I took a ride in the observatory which was a nice, air conditioned break.

We finished off the day with a little more car building (they really loved it). Bought some “prizes” in the store. Again, exchange rate in our favor. 3 LEGO sets, 3 mini figures and a bonus set abs mini figure. $128 US. Nice. Finished up with lunch at a KFC 🤢in the mall. Good news is it was only 46 ringitt. $11 us for a family of 5… again, I love Malaysia.

We’re home now after a quick ride across the border. Hopefully we don’t start a new Covid cluster here caught at Legoland Malaysia… All travel is so up in the air right now. We haven’t booked anything yet for spring break. Now that the virus is spreading worldwide it’s hard to know what next week will look like, let alone a month from now! It’s funny how things have changed. We now are worried for our family and friends in the US. It doesn’t seem possible for containment to work there the same way it does here. It’s interesting, some things in our life here are restricted because of the virus, but for the most part, daily life continues. Ryan goes to work and and kids to school. We get our temperature taken and wash our hands a million times per day. I hope the US can get it figured out too so that our family and friends can feel as we do. Concerned but still living our life. Things might change here too. We had an uptick in cases over the weekend. A new cluster developed and it looks to be a big one. The government is cautioning we should plan for a second wave. In the meantime, we’ll all just keep washing our hands…

I’ll leave you with this little ear worm. every time we took the elevator…

Boating with Captain Eva on the Damai Indah

Full disclosure, I think this was the favorite thing we did in Langkawi. When I was looking for activities, I knew we wanted to do something on a boat, seeing the other islands. I happened upon Captain Eva’s website via another blog. What luck!

First off, it was a little challenge to get to this excursion. Many of the tours provide transportation, but this one did not. Our hotel concierge was concerned about “traffic” in the main city of Kuah and advised us to leave early. Apparently there was a cycling tour on the island. We got a taxi and away we went to the other side of the island. Langkawi is a little bit of a sailing paradise. It’s windy, but protected. There are 2 yacht clubs on the island. We were to meet our boat at the Royal Langkawi Yacht club, where our captain had her own pool bar!

Found it!
Need I say more? Captain Eva rules!

We met with Captain Eva and got ready for our cruise. Avery took a quick swim in the pool. We come to find out, we’re the only ones on the cruise that night. Yay for us! Captain Eva is fascinating. She’s German and left Germany at the age of 38 to sail around the world. She came to Langkawi for 2 weeks and has been here ever since. She’s actually trying to sell her business if anyone’s interested…

Our boat is on the end
Checking out “our boat” as Captain Eva called it. It was us, Captain Eva and here 2 crew (who I sadly can’t remember their names. They were so lovely!)
Away we went!
The boat had 3 levels. Inside was a full kitchen, bathroom and berths that were used by the staff. The main level that had beds to lay on, a full bar, a GIANT tiller and a third level with a sun deck. the girls are on the top here.
As we cruised out (sadly no sails), the kids enjoyed all the lounging and the all you could drink soda. The Damai Indah was originally an Indonesian cargo vessel that was retrofit to be a charter boat. It oozed charm and was beautifully maintained. Her name means “Peace and Beauty”.

Finally we made it to our cruising destination on the leeward side of an island that means cucumber in Malay. There was a open part of the top deck that we weren’t allowed on during the cruise out. Soon enough we learned what it was for. Jumping! We all jumped off about a million times, like little kids. Looking back, I wish we had jumped more and longer. The water was beautiful and warm. We thought Avery would be scared (she did ask to wear a life jacket) as it was pretty high, but nope, she jumped right off!
Ella and Liam also jumped off the bow. They decided it was too much work and more fun to just jump from the top.
We then took the small RIB boat to check out a cave on the island.
Goodbye Damai Indah, don’t leave us!
You can see the cave we went to just past Ella on the right. The entrance was small, we just fit. But inside went up to the top of the island and was filled with stalactites and bats!
The approach
Inside the cave
We then took a motor around the island
We re-boarded and lounged around before dinner.
Happy faces!
Happy boy at the tiller!
With a little helper
Do you think there are any monkeys?
Captain Eva made us a feast! Red snapper, prawns , chicken and her famous corn (she told us everyone loves her corn and she was right! Liam licked the plate)
No, he didn’t drink the beer!
After dinner was served, Captain Eva took the RIB back to her pool bar as she “ had some business to attend to”. See you later!
So full!
With full bellies we watched a beautiful sunset
Ryan’s crushing portrait mode
The langkawi eagle statue from the water
Back to the harbor

We came back to the pool bar where Captain Eva was “attending to her business”. She invited us to stay for a drink (which would have been amazing and fun) but we had tired little monkeys and a 45 minute grab ride. Sadly we headed back to the hotel.

Sometimes you do things you know you will remember always. For me, this was one of those things.

Langkawi sky cab & bridge

Researching our trip, this was the #1 must do in Langkawi. the sky cab claims to be the longest free span mono cable car 🚡 in the world. Not exactly sure what that means, but I do know it was very long and very steep. The cable car takes you up to the tallest peak in the Machinchang geo park (second tallest in langkawi) at 700 meters. The rock formations on langkawi are approximately 550 million years old and this was one of the first parts of Asia to emerge in from the ocean. At the top is a curved suspension bridge with a killer view!

This is part of oriental village at the base of the sky cab. Malaysian clip joint. We actually ate lunch in the building on the right. It was one of a touristy type restaurant they have here in Asia. You can get pretty much any type of food. I got chicken curry, Boys had pizza, Avery fish sticks and Ella samosas
Waiting at the bottom. Each car fit 6 people (unless you paid for a private car, but we’re too cheap). They put a nice polish woman who was traveling alone with us. She was very nice and nervous about the cable car. Hopefully we weren’t too annoying.
On our way up to the mid-point stop.
Looking back down at oriental village and the rainforest.
Family picture at the mid point stop lookout. The nice polish woman took it for us!
Off we go to the top!
In the sky cab. We didn’t pay for the one with a glass bottom. Can’t decide if we missed out….
View of the sky cabs from the top.
Ryan having his titanic moment
Off to the sky bridge! Yes it swayed and yes it was high! But so cool.
It’s an award winning bridge! It was a pretty cool design!
The girls loved the glass on the bridge. Dare devils
Looking down from the bridge
Beautiful view from the top!
The sky bridge from the top viewing area. Check out the single support column in the middle, all the suspension cables fed out from there.
A little geology if anyone is interested…
Not our sky cab but I was totally geeking out that it was named “obit” for trilobite.
Back down we go! I have to admit, when we went down the super steep part, it was a little scary…

Once we went down, we went to check out the 3-D art museum which was included in our ticket. The kids and Ryan loved this place more than I should admit… since I was the chief carrier of all the things, no pics of me… there are so many pics to share, I’ll just add my favorites.

No words…

There are literally hundreds….. apparently these places are common in Asia and all very similar so hopefully we can avoid in the future. But it was fun… after this we had lunch, checked out some souvenirs and headed back to the hotel for a quick change before our afternoon Adventure. The verdict on the sky cab and sky bridge was, we loved it!