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Costa Allegra. Far East Cruise

Surrey,England
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179 posts
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Costa Allegra. Far East Cruise

April 2008.

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.

Places visited:

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.

Mexico
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1. Re: Costa Allegra. Far East Cruise

Thanks for the post.

Liverpool, United...
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407 posts
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2. Re: Costa Allegra. Far East Cruise

we are due to go on 6th june however now that oasis airline have gone bust everything is up in the air.i have rang virgin cruises twice but they have no info as yet,this is no good to me whatsoever as my holiday dates are booked in work and if we are not going i need to book another holiday elsewhere.is there anybody else who was due to fly with us from gatwick on the 6th and maybe you have more info than me

Bedfordshire
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3. Re: Costa Allegra. Far East Cruise

Apparantly Virgin have taken over the bookings for this..not sure if they have bought out the company...

Is anyone else going on the 6th June?

Bournemouth, UK
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27 posts
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4. Re: Costa Allegra. Far East Cruise

Thanks for the info, looking forward to our trip in November.

We have just had it confirmed that our flights have swithced to VIrgin from Oasis. Your travel agent should now be in a position to confirm this I would think.

Warrington
8 posts
1 review
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5. Re: Costa Allegra. Far East Cruise

We are doing this trip in November08, and have been really worried about all the comments on this cruise. Overall its sounds that everything was ok and you enjoyed the trip. Bit worried about the Motor Bike Taxi's (are they safe as I am very anxious person)

Regards

Karen & Ron

wirral
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6. Re: Costa Allegra. Far East Cruise

It all sounds like hard work to me. I have always found cruising a relaxing experience with a bit of well-organised excursioning thrown in. I did enjoy reading your posting,though.

Warrington
8 posts
1 review
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7. Re: Costa Allegra. Far East Cruise

Hello, we are doing the Far East cruise on 9th Nov and found tour info very ueseful. Can you remember if the Taxi to Tagatay were easy to get you there and back and how costly were these. Not sure whether to book on ship or do ourselves.

Kind Regards

Karen

Surrey,England
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179 posts
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8. Re: Costa Allegra. Far East Cruise

Apologies for the delay in replying but I have been away.

The organised excursion takes you to Tagaytay village which just gives you a view over the large volcano. If I remember correctly lunch was also included in the excursion price.

We wanted to see and experience the different volcanoes and lakes (suggest you look up Taal volcano via google.It is a unique set of volcanoes and lakes). As we disembarked the ship, there was a minibus taxi available but his price seemed rather high so we went out of the port gates and found many more taxis.

The price we negotiated was $80 for the return taxi trip which included a driver and an english speaking guide. On arriving at Tagaytay, it was a 20 min drive down to the lake side. Here we negotiated for a local return boat trip to the volcano $35. There was a further $3 dollar park entrance fee ($1.50 each). We chose to walk up the volcano - takes about 20 mins - (stopping to admire the scenery enroute) but you could pay for a horse ride. The views into the second lake when we got to the top were absolutely stunning.

The ship's excursion did not take you to all these features.

The total price for the two of us was $118.

If we did it again, we would endeavour to include the boat trip in the quoted and agreed taxi price to save time negotiating when one gets to the lake. We paid for the taxi when we got back to Manila.

Due to Manila's heavy traffic, progress can be slow so it is wise to disembark the ship as soon as possible. Allow at least two hours for the return journey (the coaches also get caught up in the traffic jams). We had some free time when we got back to Manila so asked to be dropped off at the park.Walked through it to see the Cathedral and fort enroute back to the ship.

Hope this helps.

Warrington
8 posts
1 review
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9. Re: Costa Allegra. Far East Cruise

Thanks every so much for the details, we will do this on our own, will let you know how we get on.

Regards Karen

Surrey,England
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179 posts
17 reviews
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10. Re: Costa Allegra. Far East Cruise

Hope you have as good a trip as we did.

Haggling is the 'name of the game' and making sure what the agreed price will include before you start. We told them what time we had to be back at the ship (told them an hour earlier than it had to be!).

We had not gone very far when the guide asked for money to fill up the car with petrol. We stated that we would only give $20 towards it as it had been agreed to pay for the journey when we returned safely to the ship.

We also took some water and food with us (we always have a good breakfast and pack some biscuits in our suitcase for such occasions). It may be possible to take a piece of fruit from the ship as well.This saves them (the taxi) suggesting that they take you to a restaurant which uses up time and adds to the cost.

Sunhats, sun cream, sunglasses were essential as it was very hot.

When we arrived at Tagaytay, there were locals on scooters who try to get you to go with them to the lake but we insisted that the taxi take us as agreed. At the lake, we were taken to a place that had a boat. Price quoted was high so we decided to enquire at the next boat yard - price substantially lower!

You cannot blame them for trying to make more money but we have learnt to 'stick to what has been agreed' and tip at the end if the servcie has been good.

Hope you enjoy the experience. It was a marvellous sight.