The vast expanse of the water bodies opens me up from within and fills me with a warm glow. Forests, mountains, deserts, hills, pastures haven’t given me the same happiness as a large water body does. An idea of a cruise in the Andaman Sea and the Indian Ocean had been toying with me for pretty long. When we read an ad in the local newspaper announcing the arrival of a new cruise-liner called Costa Atlantica, the emotions were just too strong to snare any longer. That the cruise-liner was scheduled to start from Singapore and take us to beautiful Phuket and Langkawi was just too much to let go.

“A vacation in a vacation”, said my little daughter; her face lit up with impish glee.

We booked the tickets and were all set to cruise.

Tip: While booking the tickets, please check if ‘On Board Credit’ is part of the ticket price and if it is refundable or not. On Costa Atlantica, it was non-refundable. For us, it didn’t matter because the Thailand Visa on arrival and one of the location trips we opted for was enough for retiring the On Board Credit. Credit card needs to be registered with the cruise cashier for a cashless reconciliation.

The Days were planned as follows:

Day 1: Embark

Day 2: On the ship

Day 3: Phuket and return by 1800 hours

Day 3: On the Ship

Day 4: Langkawi and return by 1300 hours

Day 5: On the ship and disembarkation starts by 1300 hours

The embarkation was well organised though the queue was long. We had planned to embark quickly to enjoy the ship. Call it collective thought if you must, our fellow passengers had planned the same. Even though, there were three hours to embark, every passenger reached the counters early and go stuck in the slow-moving queue. Few smart ones came in pretty late and entered the ship without much of a queue. The Costa Atlantica managers could have given time-slots for the decks and should have planned a better embarkation.

Tip: Phuket, Thailand is visa on arrival but Malaysia has started asking for Visa to be approved earlier. The passenger needs to manage the Malaysian Visa. We were worried whether we will be allowed entry into Langkawi. However, during the embarkation, the cruise managers informed visa charges for Phuket would be SGD 50 per head and Langkawi won’t need the visa. The announcement was a relief.

After the immigration, boarding the ship was exhilarating. We had seen ships in movies but seeing them from own point of view from the ship was pure delight.

Ship leaving pier:

Singapore skyline from the Ship deck:

Once on board, the entire ship looked like a floating 5-start hotel.

One of the hallways on our floor:

Aisle inside ROMA-our floor

Tip: Once you embark, if you head to the rooms to unpack, you will miss the float-away from the Marina.

During the float-away, we waved at the crowd on the pier even though we didn’t know anyone there. It is a beautiful feeling when strangers exchange the warmth and wave back.

In the room, they deliver a post called Today. It gives the details of different events planned on the cruise. General Emergency Drill, a Magic Show, and dinner was planned for the first evening. Magic show was planned in a three-storey lovely theatre called the Caruso.

Trivia: Enrico Caruso (Italian pronunciation: [enˈriːko kaˈruːzo]; February 25, 1873 – August 2, 1921) was an Italian operatic tenor. He sang to great acclaim at the major opera houses of Europe and the Americas, appearing in a wide variety of roles from the Italian and French repertoires that ranged from the lyric to the dramatic. (Fun part: Caruso has entered urban dictionary and means the act of adding melodrama to everything one does, even to the point that brushing your teeth is poignant and suspenseful)

That evening’s magic and contortionist show became my daughter’s one of the most savoured moments on the cruise. Some shots from the show:

Contortionist and magic show-1

Wonder how she did this !!!

Contortionist and magic show-2

Contortionist and magic show-3

And she was doing this so fast that it was difficult for me to catch up on my lens…

Day 2: In the next blog post.

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