Experience: Spectrum of the Seas

Shanghai – Kagoshima – Okinawa – Shanghai – This five night cruise departs and returns to Shanghai and offers the opportunity to explore Kagoshima – formerly Satsuma – which is how satsumas got their name and Okinawa – an island best known for being home to more than 50,000 American troops.

The Ship – Spectrum is a new ship ‘Quantum Ultra Class’ and so everything is beautifully clean and well cared for. I had a sole cabin – however the bed was a small double and the cabin and balcony were very spacious. As you would expect on this class of ship there are plenty of activities including SkyPad, Flowrider, The North Star, climbing and sports hall. There are a few classes, but none particularly inspiring.

The bars are what you would expect on a Royal Caribbean ship – with the addition of the bionic bar – if you prefer your cocktails mixed and delivered by a robot. Speciality dining includes Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant – Jamie’s, Chops Grill and a number of Japanese and Chinese restaurants.

Dining room and Windjammer are standard and the food served is of a good quality. Windjammer lives by its name and gets jammed – so worth looking at alternatives for breakfast and lunch.

The experience – Spectrum is one of the new Royal Caribbean ships aimed at a Chinese market. Therefore, if you take this cruise you must expect to be in a very small minority of non Chinese guests. This meant that there was not the usual crush at the bars – in fact it was surprising to find anyone else in them at all! This dampened the atmosphere, the exception being in Schooners when the shows ended around 10.15pm. The bar had a talented Canadian singer and pianist who spoke fluent Chinese – hence he started playing all the Chinese favourites which attracted a large audience all singing and swaying along.

Excursions – Apparently Chinese guests almost always come as part of an organised tour so all excursions are organised for them. This means very little demand for anything Royal Caribbean provide, which also means the tours are more expensive than normal. So expect to make your own arrangements beforehand if you can. In Kagoshima there were 2 trips. We took the one to the Volcano and gardens which was lovely and gave a real flavour of Japan. In Okinawa the tour was to a local palace that had been restored – nice, but not overly exciting. The ship didn’t dock in Okinawa until 1.30pm – this meant I was unable to take any of the local tours as many depart in the morning. However, the ship didn’t leave until 9pm – so there is the opportunity to explore and/or take a sunset cruise.

We had booked on the Shanghai city tour with drop off at our hotel, this was definitely the best value tour on offer – sadly it was the one that was cancelled due to lack of customers! – staff onboard said that this transfer rarely operated – so be sure to organise your own plans

Crown & Anchor Society – For those Diamond Plus members, you are in for a real treat, because on this ship you have access to the Silver Lounge, and dining area, plus the Suites Solarium. This really made us feel very special, and would be one of the reasons we would encourage Diamond Plus (and Pinnacle members) to try this ship!

Shanghai – If you take this cruise do spend some time in Shanghai if you can. Shanghai is a huge city of some 35 million. It has excellent infrastructure including a fabulous Metro – easy to navigate, clean, efficient, fast – and very very cheap! The Shanghai Tower is the 2nd tallest building in the world and a highlight was going to its viewing platform in the fastest lift in the world. I also took the Metro to Chew Chow Chow – Shanghai’s little Venice. Well worth a visit with is the charming canals, bustling shops and restaurants – along with an impressive international water colour gallery and extensive gardens make it a wonderful place to explore.

Getting to / from Shanghai Port: The centre of Shanghai is around 22 miles inland from the Pacific coastline. Most of the large (70,000ft-plus) ships on Asia Pacific cruise itineraries are moored at the Baoshan Cruise Terminall, Wusongkou Port – which is located at Paotaiwan Bay, where the Yangtze meets the Huangpu, 15 miles from the centre. Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal, less than a mile from the famous Bund in the city centre, has space for three smaller vessels. Waigaoqiao Port Cruise Terminal, in Pudong New Area, 16 miles from the centre, is also available though currently receives few cruise ships. So do check which one your cruise departs from!

We took an Uber to the Port, which took around 45-50 minutes to get to the port from the centre of Shanghai. We strongly suggest getting a local taxi after your voyage (albeit a very long line), as getting an Uber to pick you up at the port can be quite challenging.

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