“Welcome to the Palace Villa,” the butler announced as he swung open the doors to a stateroom on deck 17, leading us into a light-filled, glamorous suite bedecked with opulent furnishing, crystal chandeliers, and magnificent artworks.
In the middle, a grand piano made a statement in the living room, positioned right in front of a bar fully stocked with bottles of premium whisky, gin and champagne. We were whisked through a sliding door and led outdoors to a winding staircase that guided us to a private sundeck, complete with a jacuzzi that overlooked the glistening, endless sea.
In the grand scheme of things, one might mistake this for a presidential suite at a swanky resort in Sentosa. However, the room we were in was far from an ordinary suite in a hotel or resort. This was the Palace Villa on the Genting Dream, Dream Cruises’ inaugural ship — and we were out at sea, cruising towards Port Klang in Malaysia.
The most prestigious suite onboard, the Palace Villa measures approximately 224 square metres and has a maximum occupancy of six people. However, we honestly think that it’s massive enough for a full-fledged soirée while cruising at sea.
The extravagant experience doesn’t end there. The Palace Villa is just one of the accommodation offerings at The Palace, a private enclave within the Genting Dream. Entering the compounds of The Palace felt like coming home amidst the cruise’s bustling atmosphere — trust us, we experienced it ourselves. The exclusive enclave is home to over 140 luxurious suites with personal butler service, as well as private facilities for VIPs onboard the ship — including the swimming pool, spa, gym and dining venues.
Being on a cruise doesn’t mean you’re just limited to one or two dining venues. In fact, it is quite the contrary. Genting Dream boasts over 35 restaurants and bars. Granted, only two dining venues, namely the Dream Dining Room and The Lido, are included for ordinary cruise guests throughout their voyage. However, The Palace guests get to enjoy a wider range of options that are included in their stay, which includes some speciality establishments.
One restaurant we thoroughly enjoyed is Umi Uma, a premium Japanese restaurant. Besides an à la carte menu, Umi Uma also offers teppanyaki, a Japanese barbecue that incorporates a lively performance by the chef. Watching the entertaining chef toss slabs of wagyu beef in the air while we dine? Yes, please.
Alternatively, The Palace guests can indulge in a decadent lunch or dinner enveloped in old-world glamour at Silk Road Chinese Restaurant, a 1920s-style signature dining establishment on the Genting Dream. The restaurant serves up unique Chinese dishes with a contemporary twist, fresh and full of bold flavours.
A five-course tasting menu at Silk Road includes roasted chicken, soup, braised aubergine with bean curd in broad bean paste, sautéed prawn meat with chilli sauce, braised sea cucumber, and red bean soup with a glutinous ball. While the food is the highlight of the restaurant, it’s also an immersive dining experience. After 11 pm, the venue turns into an entertainment hotspot where cabaret dancers in flapper costumes steal the spotlight.
If you thought the cabaret is the only form of entertainment you’ll have onboard, you thought wrong. Over the course of the cruise, we were impressed by Genting Dream’s array of entertainment options, which were mostly showcased at the Zodiac Theatre, a massive 99-seat venue that hosts live production shows. The best part? The front row seats are reserved for The Palace guests.
On our first night, we were enthralled and completely mesmerised by the graceful movements of the international ballroom dance champions during the Latin ballroom dance show, which has the makings of a world-class production.
The Voyage of a Lover’s Dream, the cruise’s most popular show, was staged the second night. The Cirque du Soleil-style production showcases mesmerising acts, acrobatics and glittering costumes, depicting the love story between an astronaut and mermaid, a recurring theme throughout Genting Dream. This alludes to the distinction between the ship that is cruising between the sky and the ocean.
In fact, the same theme is present in the massive artwork that adorns the vessel of the ship. It was dreamt up by London-based Chinese pop artist Jacky Tsai, who is known for his creative work with iconic fashion designer Alexander McQueen. The unique hull art piece combines the essence of Chinese culture and popular elements of western art to create an ethereal and fantastical journey of love between a mermaid and an astronaut.
We don’t see why you should take a first class flight to your favourite island destination when you can embark on a cruise and wake up every day in a prestigious suite, with a view of the idyllic turquoise waters of Phuket or North Bali — which are both ports of call for Genting Dream. The cruise line will introduce new routes this summer, featuring new ports of call in Pulau Redang in Malaysia, Sihanoukville in Cambodia, as well as Koh Samui and Bangkok (Laem Chabang) in Thailand.
And if you’ve only got a weekend to spare, you can always embark on the two-night cruise to Port Klang in Malaysia, which gives you more than enough time to enjoy the ship’s facilities.