Trip Advisor Member. UK
We have just returned from a cruise 'Treasures of the Far East' on the Costa Allegra. A great itinerary on a medium-sized ship with terrific on-board staff. Roomy cabins, plenty of deck space and a good selection of meals in a waiter-served restaurant or self-service buffet. Help-yourself coffee and tea nearly always available. In a fortnight there were 3 formal evenings - most people dressed for the occasion but some people always dressed casually.
Main problem was the lack of or incorrect information.
1.Cruise commenced and ended in Hong Kong. Berthing , embarkation and disembarkation was given as Ocean Terminal (Kowloon) but this proved incorrect (in spite of checking it out prior to departing from the UK). There was no Costa representative or a notice at Ocean Terminal to inform and redirect independant passengers so many wasted a lot of time and became quite anxious endeavouring to find out where the Costa Allegra actually was - a great distance away on the other side of the water. Later on we discovered that the Coast Allegra is not due to berth at Ocean Terminal until the end of April.
2. Visas. You do not need to purchase them prior to the cruise.
Vietnam - cost E4.50 pp. Added to your on board account.
China - Sanya - no charge if a ship's excursion is taken. If not, you can prebook a shuttle bus for E5 and pay E15pp visa charge. Again added to your on board account.
3. Itinerary. The ship does not berth in Bandar Seri Begawan or Da Nang as advertised but some distance away (see later notes).
Safety Boat Drill was extremely poor. No staff on the corridors for guidance, no check made on who attended (some people did not), no check made on the wearing of lifejackets, no information given as to which lifeboat you should proceed to.
The ship offers a range of excursions at each port but are rather pricey. Some information given in short lectures. If you wish, you can easily organise yourself and it becomes more economical if you share a taxi with others.
MANILA. Philippines. A few places of interest locally such as the Cathedral and the Fort. A number of people too the shuttle bus to the Shopping Mall where security was very tight. We took a taxi to Tagaytay (2hrs), then a boat to Taal Volcano which we climbed - a unique experience and stunning views.
KOTA KINABALU. Borneo. Here we shared a taxi to visit the Lok Tawi National Park (orang utans, tigers, botanical gardens etc). In the afternoon we walked around KK and went up to the viewpoint. Would suggest a visit to the Sabah State Museum.
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN. Brunei. Ship charged E31 for the 30-45 minute drive from the port of Muara to BSB but it is possible to either get a taxi or walk to the Muara bus terminal (this cost $1 pp one way). When we returned, the bus did a detour and drove right up to the dock gates. Mosque is closed on a Thurs and Fri to tourists. The Tasek Lama park was worth a walk around - very peaceful and scenic.
SINGAPORE. Local currency needed here but there are money changers at the port. MRT system very easy to use . We took ourselves to Jurong Bird Park - terrific if you enjoy birdlife. Then to Raffles Hotel which has an interesting museum on the top floor.
HO CHI MINH, Vietnam. Took a pedicab into the city (charge was $1 per 5 minutes) but once at the main undercover market it is possible to walk to the rest of the main attractions (or get another pedicab or ride pillion on a 'taxi' motor bike - traffic is chaotic but you feel very safe as no one speeds along. Went into the War Remnants Museum and the Reunification Palace. Both well worth it at $1 pp each time. Also visited the Post Office, Cathedral etc.
DA NANG, Vietnam. Berthed at Tien Su, some 9 kms from DN. Rode pillion on a motor bike. Visited the Cham Sculpture Museum ($1pp)then walked along the smart promenade with its many marble sculptures to a local market and the Catholic Cathedral. Motor bike 'taxis' again to Marble Mountain, a further 8 km away ($1pp) - so many caves, grottoes, temples, pagodas, buddhas and steps but absolutely wothwhile. Motor bike taxi all the way back to the ship.
SANYA, China. Took the Shuttle bus option into Sanya, then 4 of us went in a taxi (1 hr) to the Nanshan Buddhist Culture Park. Here they will only take local currency so it is necessary to change some before leaving Sanya.
Apart from Singapore and Sanya, we managed with US dollars everywhere else.
On board entertainment was average as was the the extra activities offered. Warm temperatures meant you could lounge out on the decks (apart from when the showers came). Plenty of sun loungers available.