Adventure Cove, Sentosa, Singapore

We had a fabulous day at Adventure Cove, in Sentosa Singapore. We had been to Wet and Wild back home in Sydney so were keen to compare.

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We decided to invest in hiring a cabana for the day. Best decision ever, because then we didn’t have to think about our belongings and we could stop and relax when we wanted!

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Adventure Cove has a wave pool and several different types of slides. These rides were all very similar to those at Wet and Wild Sydney or Gold Coast.

We had fun on these rides.

What made Adventure Cove unique was 2 experiences in particular. There was a tyre ride called Adventure River that went right around the entire park, including parts of the park the public cannot access – Shark Encounter and Ray Bay. It was cool!

The other attraction was Rainbow Reef. This is a man made pool that is designed for people to snorkel in. It had tropical fish and a glass wall so you can take photos outside too.

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We had a great day exploring the attractions! With Singapore being so humid, it’s a great way to cool down.

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Exploring Sentosa, Singapore

After our visit to the S.E.A Aquarium, our family decided to explore Sentosa for a few hours. We stayed at the Festive Hotel which is on the island and part of Resorts World. Resorts World is a connected series of hotels, restaurants and theme parks in Sentosa. Universal Studios and many of the attractions in Sentosa are part of this group.

Our hotel was reasonably comfortable, we were initially disappointed as we were meant to be in a room which could accommodate the 4 of us, and the hotel put us in a smaller room. After this issue was sorted we were in a large room, which was comfortable although my girls had to share a double bed (I am not a fan of my kids sharing, they fight a lot). However moving rooms meant we lost the fabulous view we had in the first room.

Our hotel stay included breakfast daily which was at the Hard Rock Hotel next door. This hotel was really nice. The pool in this hotel is amazing!! As we stayed at Festive, we were also allowed to swim in the HRH pool, which we did in the afternoons during our stay.

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So, after the aquarium visit, we explored Sentosa a bit. We had monorail passes that enabled us to go between the different places. Sentosa has 4 monorail stations.

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We decided to take the Cable Car and check out what was around.

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There were some spectacular views from the cable car of Sentosa and Singapore. The cable car flies over Singapore and takes you to Faber Peak where you can enjoy the view. There is also a museum showcasing the history of the cable cars.

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Yes, it’s a LEGO Cable Car!

 

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Even the toilets had a view!! Yes these are the Ladies toilets at Faber Peak!

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Adventure Cove (where we went the next day!)

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S.E.A Aquarium, Sentosa, Singapore

During our Singapore holiday in January 2016, we visited the amazing S.E.A (South East Asia) Aquarium in Sentosa, Singapore. It was an amazing experience for our family.

The aquarium was a short stroll from our accommodation in Sentosa, the Festive Hotel.

The aquarium was filled with massive tanks of all sorts of sea creatures!

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My husband was in his element. He loves showing nature and animals to our kids.

At first we were saying this aquarium is similar to Sydney Aquarium, however it wasn’t long before those comments stopped. This place was truly epic!

There were tropical fish, freshwater fish, sharks, touch pools, a lot of interactive parts. A shipwreck, a HUGE glass walled fish tank. The girls enjoyed glow in the dark fairy floss! IMG_0377

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Have to also share this t-shirt we bought Miss H at the aquarium!!! LOL

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If you come to Singapore, this aquarium is definitely worth a visit. Allocate about 2-3 hours to visit here. Lots for the kids to see and interact with.

Universal Studios Singapore

Once off the Mariner, we embarked on our week long adventure in Sentosa, Singapore. Our first mission was laundry! We had to go on the mainland to find a coin operated laundry or risk paying more than $100 to have things washed! The cruise didn’t have a self-serve laundry and neither did our hotel. Apart from this and a mix up with our transfer off the ship, it was the only thing I could fault about our stay!

Anyway, once disembarking off our ship, we checked into the Festive Hotel in Sentosa.

It’s central to everything in Sentosa and we got given monorail passes for the duration of our stay. The monorail gets you around the island, it’s the main form of transport.

So needless to say, first stop was Universal Studios Singapore! Was a short 5 min stroll from our hotel…

I don’t have a lot of photos from this day. We were on a lot of rides!

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The girls loved the rollercoasters! One of them was in Far Far Away land (all Shrek-themed rides). In the middle of the day, it started to pour rain, but this did not stop the ride running and they rode the rollercoaster in pouring rain! They loved it (my husband, not so much!). IMG_0321

As Miss O had a fractured toe, getting around was an issue. So we hired a “stroller” for her. Turned out to be a blessing! We were able to store all our stuff in it and not have to carry it around. Plus it didn’t stop Miss O, she went on everything!!

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We had a fab day. After the park closed we went to the Hard Rock Cafe Sentosa for dinner. Universal Studios is located next to a whole area where there are shops and restaurants all nearby. A bit like Downtown Disney in California. The Hard Rock was just across the road from the park. Was lovely to not have to think about anything. Then a short walk later we were back in our hotel!

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Phuket, Thailand

Our third port on our Mariner of the Seas cruise was to Phuket in Thailand. I have to say, before we arrived we had heard beautiful stories about Phuket as well as scary ones. I think after visiting I would advise to stay in the resorts, Patong Beach was very interesting.

Our ship was tendered for this stop. I had heard nightmare stories about the tendering process off ships. As we were booked on a ship tour for this stop, we didn’t have that experience. We waited a little while but it was not a bad process.

Our day was slightly hampered by a mishap that happened the night before. My younger daughter slipped over by the pool. We didn’t think much of it at the time, but the next day she was still whinging and hobbling around everywhere, and eventually we discovered she had fractured her toe. Parents of the year! Must say though the ship’s doctors were excellent and she even had an x-ray on board and was given meds (Panadol/Nurofen) at no charge!

So first stop in Thailand was the Chalong Temple. Being New Years Day, it was busy. Was very ornate inside. Miss O  braved her foot pain and climbed to the top with me.IMG_0230

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Next stop was the Island Safari. It’s a place where they do elephant rides and there was a monkey show. I have to say I wasn’t impressed with the monkey show. I did not like how they treated their monkeys and kept them on leashes and inside cages. The elephant show however was a different story. We enjoyed watching this. My eldest daughter got to play soccer with an elephant. She fared badly LOL! Stick to netball H!

 

After the show we got to feed the elephants some bananas and then have a ride on them. Was an interesting experience.

I’m still dubious about how the elephants are treated behind the scenes, but I didn’t see anything bad while we were there.

After the safari we were taken back to a cashew nut factory. We got to try a few. Was very nice!

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The tour ended in Patong where I got to have a look around while hubby took the girls for a paddle in the beach. The electric wires here are crazy!!

Overall, I was a bit underwhelmed. Maybe because I didn’t go to a resort and saw the public beach. I think I needed more time here to take it all in properly.

 

George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Our second port on our Mariner cruise was the town of George Town in Penang, Malaysia. It was advertised as a food lover’s paradise! My husband however was not convinced and was refusing to try any of the food (because of the hygiene he says). So as a result, we didn’t book any shore tours. We had (mistakenly) read that we could leave the kids in Kids club for the day while we were in port…but when we got to Kids club we found out this was not the case as they had set sessions of only a couple of hours and we had to collect the girls after each session. So in the end they came with us.

Getting off the ship was reasonably easy, with one exception…. the “vultures” that are the taxi drivers and local tour operators who are trying to get all the passengers to take their cabs. They stand at the exit and yell at you for business and it was to the point of touching. They don’t take no for an answer either. They were rude and it was horrible. In the end my husband was quite nasty to them. If there’s one thing I absolutely hate, it’s hawkers.

Once we got off the ship, we set off to find the free bus that goes around town for a look. Found the bus and went around. That was okay. We didn’t find the town terribly exciting. We ended up at one of the shopping centres. At this point hubby was frustrated with nothing to see (and he hates shopping!), kids were annoying and at this point we were almost ready to go back to the ship. We decided to catch a bus to go to Penang Hill. We caught the public bus up. The trip was really cheap (about 2 Ringgit each) but it took about 40 mins.

When we got to the top, we almost decided not to go up, the queue was a mile long! Time was running out and we were wondering whether we would have time to stay. In the end we discovered there was a “fast lane” option, you pay a little extra but it meant skipping all the queues and getting on the next train!

So up the hill we went…

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The train up the hill. It’s quite steep going up, similar to Victoria Peak in Hong Kong.

The views from the top were spectacular. I spy a cruise ship!

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There were monkeys here too. This one scared the living daylights out of the girls when it kinda jumped at them. They were a little more wild than the ones at Batu Caves.

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Although my hubby and the girls didn’t eat, I wasn’t wasting my opportunity! Up the top there is a food court and so I tried a laksa and chicken nuggets. Was very nice.IMG_0210

 

Meanwhile the girls got airbrush henna tattoos

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We had a lovely time in the end and I am so glad we ended up going up the hill. I wish we had started here so we could have more time. When we got back to the bottom we decided to skip the bus and take a taxi back to the ship. We really should have done this in the first place. The driver was lovely and not a maniac like the guys on the port. I had heard Penang makes good coffee so I asked him where to get good coffee and he took us to a “factory outlet” type place where you can try and buy coffee and tea sachets. There was both tea and coffee here, as well as chocolate. Was very nice. The only criticism was I wish this place sold a variety or sample pack of different coffees/teas to take home, I would have liked that over buying one packet of 20 in the one flavour! In the end I bought a pack of lychee tea and some chocolate. I’m not much of a tea drinker but it was really nice (and sweet, I like my sweet drinks).

So my husband didn’t think much of Penang but I didn’t mind it so much. I would like to have tried more of the food…might have to do this one day without my husband or kids!

Mariner of the Seas

This post is to give you more of a detailed overview of the ship my family cruised on…Mariner of the Seas. I went on this cruise as part of my holiday to Singapore and Hong Kong.

Mariner of the Seas is a Voyager class ship owned and operated by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. The ship mainly operates out of Asia and does cruises within Asia from Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

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The solarium pool (adults only) on Mariner.IMG_0075

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The Royal Promenade (don’t mind the look on my daughter’s face! LOL).

There were a few high-end shops here. I am not really a designer label shopper (I look, but don’t buy!) so it was interesting to watch everyone go crazy when they had “sales” on designer handbags and watches. If you look carefully towards the top of the photo, there are a bunch of windows overlooking the promenade. Some of the staterooms have windows that look over the promenade instead of the ocean. If you get an inside room, this is most likely the view you will get. Good for watching the Dreamworks parade though, and as I was on a New Year’s Cruise, it would have been awesome to have a room watching the countdown to 2016…but alas!

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The Dreamworks Sailaway parade

IMG_0093The front windows of the ship

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Putt Putt golf at sea (was rather breezy when we took this!)

There is a lot to do on this ship. As well as the usual pools, casino, theatre, bars and so on there’s a gym, video game arcade, ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, inline skating track, basketball court and more.

Food – You will never starve! Lots of options. Most are included in the cruise, but some restaurants you pay a per person charge to eat at.

Each passenger is allocated a dining room they can eat at each night for formal dining. There are set dining times, or you can book My Time Dining and come at a time that suits you (but you have to prebook this). The food here is really nice, and there is a fair bit of choice. You can choose between around four or five dishes for each course of your meal. The menu also had Asian options, every day there were different things to choose from. Plus there is a kids menu (although that didn’t change every day). When you go to formal dining you sit in the same area and have the same wait staff each night. Our waiters were Nur and Subhang (Bangbang), two lovely guys from Indonesia. Regan was our barman from India.

Some of the lovely food from the dining room.

If you aren’t into formal, there’s the Windjammer buffet. Breakfast was held there every day, but you could go up there anytime for lunch or dinner as well. Being in Asia, there were Asian and Indian food options in the buffet, and also an Asian-only food buffet attached to Windjammer called Jade.

On the Royal Promenade there is a cafe on it that serves cakes and snacks (wraps, pizza slices etc), as well as brewed coffee and tea. You can also get what RC call “premium coffee” there (cappuccinos and lattes etc) but you have to pay extra for those.

The ship has room service so you can order food into your room if you wish, I think they only charge late at night. A number of times we would go to the bar/cafe and buy drinks then take them back to our room.

There were a few paid dining options, but we didn’t do any of these. Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table (Italian) and Johnny Rockets (burgers).

Service was great. All the staff spoke English really well. Many of the staff also spoke an Asian language and were from an Asian country (I did manage to find the one Mauritian guy though!). Staff were friendly and helpful. I had brought the wrong plug for the ship (yes RC Fans Facebook group friends, even after seeing the post a million times I still stuffed up!) and I was loaned a plug I could use on board (I gave it back when I bought one).

Money – Everything is charged in US dollars. I spent half my cruise carrying my phone around with my currency converter app on! RC actually use a cashless system on board. When you embark you are given a SeaPass card. This card is your room key, ID (because RC look after your passport while you are on board) and credit card. You pay for everything with this card and then it gets charged to your account. At the end of your cruise RC can charge it to your credit card (and you can choose beforehand if it charges you in $US or your home currency) or you can pay cash at the end. During the cruise you can put on your TV in your room and you have an itemised statement showing what you have bought and how much you have spent.

Kids Club – I can’t really talk too much about this. My girls only went once the entire cruise for about 2 hours. When they did go, they enjoyed themselves. I think they liked the time apart from their sister, as the groups are arranged into age groups. We were happy to sit by the pool relax with a drink and watch them swim, they loved the pool too!

Port Days – We had 3 days in port. We got off each time but you don’t have to. Port Klang and George Town the ship was docked, so getting on and off was not a big deal, but in Phuket the ship was tendered (anchored offshore) and you have to get on a smaller ferry to get to the port. I had heard mixed reviews about the tendering process. In the end we had no issues. There was a process and we got off reasonably quickly.

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The Mariner tendered offshore in Phuket.

So there you have it! As much as I can remember right now about the ship itself. I highly recommend cruising, we had such a great experience.

Kerrie

 

 

Bois Cheri Tea Plantation

Our family embarked on another road trip from the north to the south of Mauritius. First stop on this day was the Bois Cheri Tea Plantation. Bois Cheri is Mauritius own brand of tea, with many different varieties. I am not much of a tea drinker (much prefer coffee!!) but I was curious to know the process of how tea is made. The tea making factory is not operating every day but the packing facility is, however in the guided tour they show you the whole process so you can see what happens.

The tea once picked is brought in large bags to several rooms where the leaves are dried for 24 hours.

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The tea leaves being brought in.

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The tea drying room.

The leaves are then chopped, dried and the fibres removed. Then the tea is put through a sieve for refining (how refined the sieve is depends on the type of tea) and then they are left in a silo for 3 months to mature. Then flavours (such as vanilla) is added to the tea before bagging and packing.

IMG_2957The girls were fascinated by the packing machines. They had never visited a working factory before.

After the tour, we then had to drive a short way through a very bumpy road (but very scenic) to the tasting room, where we could try all the different teas made by Bois Cheri.

IMG_2961H enjoyed playing tea parties…but wasn’t a huge tea fan!

I ended up buying a couple of packets of the vanilla tea to take home, still not much into tea, but the vanilla tea was rather nice!

Our day continued on as we visited Souillac and La Vanille Crocodile Park…but that is another post!

Casela Nature Park

We had an absolutely amazing day at Casela!!

Casela Nature Park is in Cascavelle, near Flic-En-Flac on the west coast of Mauritius.

The park itself has quite a few exotic birds and animals. There were tortoises you could pat and touch. The park itself is not so fancy and it’s not where they make their money.

IMG_2834Me getting up close and personal with a tortoise!

The attraction for Casela are the adventurous activities that they offer as “add-ons” to the admission fee. We firstly chose to do a safari in a truck, African style. The safari takes you through a few areas where zebras, emus, tortoises and ostriches roam freely. Afterwards you can go and see the lions. The area around the lion’s “den” was being renovated so we only had limited access. Others visiting the park chose to pay extra and “walk” in the lion’s den and pat them.

19-DSC_0134 20-DSC_0135 13-DSC_0100The safari we did…

My husband also got a chance to go back into the safari area on a segway. He had never ridden one before so he wanted to try it. He says it was easy to control…you can do donuts on them but not burnouts (he tried!). He got up close and personal to the zebras.

21-_SEG3382My hubby on the segway with the zebras!

The next activity we chose was the zipline. I originally chose not to do this, thinking I could go and watch hubby and girls. Was gutted when I was then told I couldn’t go with them, and there was nowhere to watch. This is something they need to change. So for an hour I sat in the park and wandered around waiting for them. The park sends photographers with each group/activity which you can then purchase on a USB. The girls (and my husband) came back absolutely buzzing!! They loved the zipline! In the end we went to the desk and asked if there was another session we could do…there was!! So we paid the fee and later in the day I went zip-lining with the girls. They got to go twice (and have since asked to go again!)

I am so glad I got a chance to zipline. The gorge the ziplines go over are beautiful. The first zipline was a bit daunting but once you take the first one it’s fine after that. There are 5 ziplines you do. It takes an hour to do them all.

ZIP_0440 ZIP_0446The girls and I on the zipline…highlight of our day!

So in the end we spent a lot of money here. Despite the cost, it was worth every cent just for the joy on my daughters’ faces! They want to go again…will have to find somewhere in Australia that does ziplines! We ended up buying all the professional photos taken on a USB and there were over 500 photos!! A few of the photos in the post today are from them! Plenty for me to scrap later 🙂

Glass Bottomed Boat

Our family was lucky to experience a couple of hours out offshore on the coral reef. For 2000 Rupees (about $AU65) all 6 of us got to go out on a glass bottom boat and if we wished, we could snorkel amongst the fish and corals. Basically to get one of these experiences you walk along the beach and there are the different vendors along the beach trying to sell their business. My dad (being from Mauritius and he still has a very thick accent…locals generally get cheaper prices than the tourists) negotiated the price for us.

The boat picked us up from the beach in front of our bungalow.

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Miss H (age 7) and Miss O (age 5) both had a go at snorkeling for the first time. The masks and snorkels were a bit big for them so they didn’t last very long. O was a little scared of the deep water and putting her head in it.

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My hubby had a great time looking at the fish and snorkeling. He even went under the boat for a photo under the glass bottom!!

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Was a great experience for the girls, they loved looking at the different corals and fish. Well worth the money!