Genting Dream cruise review and survival tips by an indie traveller

Excluding the time I spent a week sailing through the Galapagos Islands, the last time I went on a proper fancy cruise was back when I was a very young child and I remember absolutely nothing from that experience. So tagging along with my family on the Genting Dream cruise over the holiday season was a rather interesting experience for me, and I thought I’d share with you what my cruise experience was like, and some hacks I figured out to make your cruise better (and involve less queuing).

Also – this is not a sponsored post, I wasn’t even planning to write about this trip at all since it’s a family vacation and it’s not my usual style of travel, but I was looking for info on the Genting Dream the day before I departed (wooh for last minute research), and only realised then that this was a pretty new route that launched just a month earlier in late November 2017 and the ship will spend a year with Singapore as its home port. There were pretty mixed reviews from Tripadvisor, so I thought I’d add my voice to the conversation. Also, I’m sure other indie travellers might be in the same boat (hurhur pun) as me and this might help them survive their own vacations a little beter.

I did the 6D5N Island Escapade that followed a route from Singapore to Klang and Penang in Malaysia, and then to Phuket, Thailand before heading back home, my last trip of 2017. Click on the hyperlinks to see my experiences and recommendations travelling in these areas.

Why would an indie traveller even join a cruise?

I’ve established through my travels that I like to travel in a certain way that I describe as Indie Flashpacker, where I figure out my own travel plans and don’t have much of an itinerary, and while I travel pretty cheaply I’m willing to spend on occasion. But taking a cruise is quite the antithesis of being an Indie Flashpacker, my biggest issue is that it sometimes feels like you are trapped in a Marina Bay Sands Twilight Zone that you can’t escape. Sure, this ginormous ship has 19 decks and planned activities, but it does get stifling after a bit.

And the most important thing about travel for me is being able to explore a place on my own terms and time, and that’s quite difficult to do on a cruise schedule, where you are pretty much limited to very short day/half-day trips every time you are in port. You could do it, but you’ll need to do a lot of prep work to squeeze the most out of your limited time on land. To be fair, I love waking up each morning in a new city or country, and the plus points of not having to squeeze on planes or go through tedious airport security is awesome, but if I wanted to properly visit a place, this is not how I want to do it.

You think being on a somewhat inclusive cruise (I’ll get into why I say ‘somewhat’ further down) means being able to turn your brain off for a bit, but frankly I found having to figure out their schedule sometimes a tad stressful, especially because there are quite limited hours for certain activities, so I couldn’t quite laze around as much as I wanted to if I wanted to get stuff done.

The Genting Dream Survival Guide

Enough of my whinging – regardless of how or why, you’re headed on a cruise, and here’s how you can survive the next few days and actually have yourself a decent time. Read on for more details on my Genting Dream cruise experience as well.

Pin it: How to survive a vacation on a mega cruise

Board early if you can

The Genting Dream is HUGE. And I mean GINORMOUS. The ship has 19 levels, accommodates 3,400 pax and easily towers over any other ship in port with it. Correspondingly there are a massive ton of people trying to board the ship, so boarding early means less arduous queues to suffer through, and if you have luggage, it gets sent up to your room much faster then if you come on board later. Hot tip: pack your essentials in a day bag that you can carry with you so you aren’t stuck waiting for your bags to get sent to your room.

The ship set sail at around 6pm, and the final boarding call time was at 430pm, but we decided to head in much earlier and reached the Marina Bay Cruise Centre at around 12pm. It was about 1pm when they called for our group to board, and about 120pm by the time I put my stuff down in my room. I was definitely quite a lot faster than my sister who had to take her kids through the regular counters while I went through the automated check-in for Singaporeans. There are a lot of foreigners who fly into Singapore just to hop on this cruise, mostly Asians – the nationalities I was seeing/hearing a lot of: Singaporean, Malaysian, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian.

Genting Dream Cruise Ship Side Exterior
So large it’s practically impossible to take a good picture up close. Most of the rooms have balconies, though there are rooms on the lower deck without.

The main perk of boarding early is that it is the best time to go try out the popular activities that you really do not want to queue up for – everyone else is just getting oriented to the ship, so you have a lot of people wandering around exploring, but no one is really ready to do anything. We had the main pool on Deck 16 mostly to ourselves that first afternoon, and my sis and I hit the water slides multiple times that evening without having to queue or wait as others had to do in the following days, and I saw some people doing the rope course as well.

Other optimum times to hit the facilities with less crowds around are during mealtimes or if you come back from your day trips a little earlier than everyone else – most people aim to return in the last hour or so before the boarding time, so if you put your things down in your room and head straight out, there’s a good chance you’ll get less of a queue.

Of course if you can afford it, the Dream Palace VIP level means no queues wherever you go, but it costs about 2x as much as a regular room, so I’d say only if you can afford it and want to live the lux life.

Know the daily activity schedule

The timings of meals and activities fluctuates every single day, which is a bit of a pain for someone like me who likes having a fairly stable time schedule to remember. There is a daily newsletter with highlights that gets placed outside your room or in the main areas, or download the Dream Cruises app, which has the same info that they have on the e-notice board located around the boat.

There were a ton of families on board with kids of all ages. I think you need to be at least 1.4m in height and about 8-10 years old to fully utilise all the fun facilities like the slides and rope course, otherwise you might end up a tad disappointed like my poor niece.

Genting Dream Cruise Ship Pool Deck 16
the only time the pool was empty was when everyone was still boarding!

Some random activity comments:

  • Water Slides: There are 2 baby slides, but for the real fun you have to climb up 3 decks to the large water slides. There are 3 levels, my favourite was the Medium level because there is a particularly steep vertical drop right at the start which is like, woah.
  • Rope Course: You’re about 2m in the air walking over obstacles and climbing stuff which is pretty fun – stick to the outside of the course where you can look down over the side of the boat, but the best part is the zipline at the end of the course where you zip over the side of the boat. Most thrilling to do on the last day while the boat is on the move!
  • Glow Bowling: This can be found at Zouk at Level 17 and is UV lit later in the night, but it usually is a lot less crowded if you go earlier in the evening as it starts getting crowded after dinner and there are only 4 lanes. It also costs $8/game (10 frames) – which means each person pays $8 to bowl 10 frames unless you’re happy to share.

You have to sign up for slots for some of the activities like the night shows in the theatre. Unless you have a really big group and want to guarantee a slot for your entire group, I honestly don’t think you need to bother, especially later in the trip when the theatres seemed more empty. My mum who’s pretty organised about this sorta thing signed us up for 4 shows, I ended up going to only 2 of them:

  • The Santa’s Leading Ladies show was a medley of Christmas songs sung by 3 ladies that I personally found very boring and made worse by the amount of typos in the song lyrics flashed on either side of the stage, as well as the poor gif like animations used in the background. I’ve seen more polished school projects, come on.
  • The house show Voyage of a Lover’s Dream is a bit of an abstract mishmash of everything and there seems to be a very loose storyline based on an astronaut and a mermaid falling in love (you’ll see the artwork on the side of the boat as well), and it’s entertaining at least. Some of the acrobatics are mindboggling, the trampoline act is like woah.

This is a Genting boat after all, so there are tons of gambling opportunities for you all around as you walk around Levels 6-8 where all the dining and shopping happens. I hardly went to the casinos because I’m just not interested so I can’t tell you very much about that.

Genting Dream Cruise Ship Night Activity
This wasn’t too crowded yet

Where and when to eat

Genting Dream boasts of over 35 dining concepts within its ship, but here’s a bit of a reality check, only 3 of these are inclusive dining areas like The Lido (International buffet, deck 16), Dream Dining Upper (Chinese food, deck 8) and Dream Dining Lower (Western food, deck 7), which is what you are limited to when you’re on a plebian tier (my words, not theirs). Everything else you pay extra for unless you are in the Dream Palace tier (that’s like the VIP tier).

The meal timings fluctuate, and you would think going to eat early would mean less queuing, but that seems to be what everyone thinks as well, so you are actually better off going at around an hour or so after the opening meal time for that first wave to leave, especially on the first day. My friends on the VIP tier say that the premium restaurants were mostly uncrowded, so if you are tired of queuing, maybe consider forking out the cash for a fancier experience.

For breakfast, I had a much better experience in Dream Dining Lower than in The Lido – it was much easier to get a seat and much less crowded. There was less food selection of course compared to the buffet spread in The Lido, but the food quality was definitely better, actually warm and better tasting in my opinion. The Dream Dining rooms do set meals, so you get assigned a table and either get to choose from a list of set meals (western), or you get served family style (chinese).

Genting Dream Cruise Ship Dream Dining Chinese
The only meal picture I took on board – the last dinner we had at the Dream Dining Upper was a nice seafood based Chinese meal. Everything was pretty decent except the mussels which were a tad tasteless despite the black bean sauce

The Lido definitely does lunch and dinner better – I like having variety, but it also gets pretty packed compared to the other 2 dining areas. It’s a U-shaped room with multiple food stations, but it isn’t entirely identical on each side. The starboard (right side when you face the front) of The Lido tends to be less crowded compared to the port side (left side). The bend of the U is an extremely popular Indian food section – this cruise seems to be quite popular with the Indians, which means yay curries and papadum for variety but holy moly it gets crowded when the Indian folk all come into the restaurant at once.

If you have super picky eaters, there’s a bakery on board and some smaller meal options where it’s not crazy expensive that might work for you. Donuts were going at around $3.50 and a Breakfast Set for around $7, not cheap but hey you’re a captive customer, it’s not insane either.

Some food comments:

  • I’d recommend: beef (DDL as a set meal and the carved roast up in the Lido), bak kut teh (DDL – it’s Malaysian style with lots of ingredients but the soup quantity itself is quite small), live noodle stations (super spicy tom yam, great prawn noodle soup and lor mee, I liked the fishball noodle soup but the fishball itself was forgettable), fried chicken (can’t go wrong honestly). We had a seafood Chinese dinner that was pretty good on our last night (DDU)
  • I’d skip with no regret: juices (these are very much cordial drinks and very sweet at that. Stick to water), dory fish (DDL – it’s kinda soggy and fishy), porridge (especially if it’s not hot like our first breakfast in The Lido)

Day Tours

The ship docked in different ports every day – Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang, I skipped this and stayed on board), Penang (Swettenham Pier which is really near George Town) and Phuket (near Patong Bay).

Genting Dream Cruise Penang Swettenham Port
Penang as the boat departs

For Phuket, you’ll need to pick up a ferry transfer ticket to transfer you from the boat to the land, unlike the other 2 where you can walk off the boat directly. Whatever time you pick, hustle down to pickup area (ours was in the Zodiac Theatre) as early as you can, because they board on a first-come-first-serve basis and it can take awhile. We waited at least half an hour for our 945am call time to finally board a ferry. The return is much faster though, possibly because the seas are less choppy in the evening and there are more boats.

Genting Dream Cruise Ship Port Klang
View from my balcony of Port Klang. See all the taxis lined up?

The moment you disembark, you will be surrounded by people offering taxi services – do your research beforehand so you know how much to pay and not get ripped off. It’s a bit of a swarm, I let my family work out the details and just tagged along. You definitely could consider walking, catching a cheap public bus or taking a Grab in Penang because of the proximity to George Town, unless you plan to travel further. For Phuket, there is a decent stretch of beach within walking distance of the port if you rather not travel too far. It’s a bit crowded, but you can do your sea sports and the water/sand are nice enough.

The ship also organises day tours, which I honestly thought were pretty pricey, but that’s to be expected. We had actually planned to go on a Phi Phi island tour but the weather wasn’t great so that got cancelled. Instead we ended up heading to some sort of activity centre for ATV rides, and they also offered elephant rides and ziplining.

Looking for ideas on things to do in Penang and Phuket?

Most of my Phuket experience has been about their resorts, but there was that one time I ate insects, which was pretty memorable :p

So that’s a bit of my experience on the Genting Dream and cruising, there are good things about cruising and as can be seen from the sheer number of people on board, lots of people love this type of travel but it’s just not for me, so I doubt I’ll be cruising again anytime soon. Drop any questions you might have below and I’ll try and help.

If cruising is not your thing either, I have plenty of stories and travel tips to help you out – Check out my Where I Have Been page for full details or use the menu bar to navigate.

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62 thoughts on “Genting Dream cruise review and survival tips by an indie traveller”

  1. I am going to spent 5N6D on genting dream cruise with my wife and two kids. I will have 4 shore excursion i.e. port klang, lagkawi, penang and phuket. My querry is that can i get shore excursion options outside the port from local travel agent or i have to book in advance.

    1. Usually at the port when you disembark from the cruise ship, there are lot of drivers etc offering you tours and other services, so you can book from there. You can probably make your own arrangements as well, or book via the ship’s tour desk.

  2. Going on the Genting Dream cruise in the 1st week of October.

    Can you please tell us what kind of wall sockets for power are available in the rooms?

  3. Hello, I’m curious on where did the ship docked at penang? From the port is there any form of transport available to go george town? If so, how much should i set aside for it?

    1. Hi Estie – if you look at the section under day trips, in Penang the boat docks at Swettenham Pier which is quite close to downtown George Town. There are lots of taxis waiting and guides waiting for passengers coming off the boat, Price really depends on where you go though, hard for me to advise about that.

  4. Thank you for sharing your information. I love travelling for the long holiday. Most of the peoples told that Thailand is a very nice place. The Pearl of the Andaman is the most famous day curies in Thailand. Phuket is also called Pearl of the Andaman Sea. It is the largest island in Thailand. I will go to Thailand with my friends next month. We already booked tour package for cruising from Boat Lagoon Cruises Co., Ltd. Now we are so excited for the tour.

  5. Which is the best Deck to stay in Getting Dream Cruise… I have booked 1 Balcony Deluxe Stateroom and 1 Interior Stateroom ?

    I am getting Deck 8 from them… Please advise !!

  6. Hi.
    We are planning on a cruise the shorter version which is 2 nights 3 days only upto Port Klang and back.
    Just wanted to know whether they allow us to carry alcohol when boarding.
    I did a cruise (Star Virgo) long time back in 2007 and that time they allowed 1 bottle of whiskey to be taken.
    If they do not allow any idea about the pricing.

  7. Hi Jaclyn,
    We are planning for our first cruise holiday on Genting Dream sailing on 23rd December for Malaysia Thailand route. I want to ask you when did you received your cabin number? Was that pre-booked or you got to know at the time of checking at the cruise. Thanks for your help

  8. Hi, Vincentius,

    Yes, I’ve only been to RC (Mariner of the Seas) and can attest to the above statement of it serving you food outside of breakfast, lunch and dinner as they have a snack corner open 24 hours (if I remember correctly, as I dont see them ever close).

    For Genting Dream, I’ve no ideal about it I do hope someone here can shed some light on this as well.

  9. Hi, this is one of the most well detailed and un-biased review I read so far about the Genting Dream Cruise. I’m also supposed to go on the same cruise that goes to Bali. I would like to know if there is free Wi-Fi available at common places on the ship and if the paid Wi-Fi services have a limited data usage or not?

    1. Nope no free wifi at all, the only way you get wifi on the boat is to pay for it! They charge by per day and I don’t remember there being a data cap but I think they throttle if you use past a certain amount.

  10. Hi there.. i had book a trip with genting trip. Was super excited until i read a few blogs and review about it. Mostly commented it was a bad idea to book a trip with genting dream cruise. I hope its not as bad as they mentioned though. How much SGD will you suggest me to bring over to the cruise? Is the food very bad?

    1. Well there are atms on board and you can use credit cards if you have to, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

      It really depends on what type of holiday you like? It’s not my kind of holiday but there were plenty of people on board who looked happy enough. Food was alright, my views on it you can read for yourself in the article!

  11. We were on board Genting Dream 1st to 6th April Singapore to Surabaya Jakarta. This was a pleasant cruise, good facilities and food. I especially like to commend the attentive and excellent services from the culinary team at Lido Restaurant. Good tasty food. served. One person stand out that I like to mention, Mr Ronillo the Sous Chef. Seeing my wife hesitate in picking the bread, he offer to help. My wife being a diabetic prefer brown bread. Mr Ronillo prepares few slices of bread bread for her. We were very touched by the kind gesture. Bravo well done. We will always chose Dream Cruise over any other cruise liners in future. Little thoughts count.

  12. Hi Jaclynn, thanks a lot for your story !

    Is there only 3 meals per-day that is inclusive ? or there’s still tea time – or supper beside the breakfast-lunch-dinner ?

    cause I read it somewhere in Tripadvisor, they said they don’t provide tea time / snack time / supper. While in Royal Carribean, you got Breakfast – Snack Time – Lunch – Tea Time – Dinner – Supper. Is that true ? Thanks a lot for your help !

    1. There are a bunch of tour options you can find out more on board cause I’m not sure if they change them up, but there was one to Phi Phi Island we were going to do but the weather that day was pretty bad so it got cancelled! I can’t recall if James Bond Island was on the cards though

  13. The table tennis are are very much affected by wind and sun raise and set. Should be improved.
    The mini golf balls are too light to play suggested replacing with the real balls.
    The food in Chinese restruant in level 7/8 is fantastic, the service persons are so nice. I remember a girl named QinYao are especially good!

    1. There’s a kid’s club, swimming pool, basketball court and mini golf and shows/performances I guess, but it kinda depends on your kid as well. As I mentioned in the article, a number of things are more accessible to older/taller children.

  14. Hey, thanks for your writeup and tips. My mother’s been thinking of going on this cruise but I wasn’t sure whether it would be right for her. Based on your info, it seems so.

    Will keep what you wrote about food in mind too.

  15. Hi there! I actually have an upcoming trip with them in a few day’s time, and i’m just wondering, if the ‘ship check-in start time’ on my ticket states 5.30pm, does that mean there’s no point heading there earlier like you did? Because i’m not sure if it means they only commence boarding for all at 5.30pm, or it’s a recommended timing for my category.

  16. Hi, I booked mine and i’m excited for my upcoming trip. I’d like to know about the dining there, how much did you spend on breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper/snackings. You mentioned some are “inclusive”, what does that mean? Do we get our breakfast covered everyday like in the hotel?

    1. Hi, inclusive means included in your package price, so that’s only the 3 restaurants Lido and Dream Dining Upper + Lower. Everything else you have to pay extra for. So any meal that you eat at these 3 restaurants (breakfast included) is already included in your price, you don’t have to pay extra. If you want to eat breakfast or any meals at any other place, that costs more, hope that helps!

  17. Hi
    Thanks for the great review.
    I am planning to take my mum and dad + bro and his family on a 2 night cruise on Genting dreams. Is it worthwhile?? Some of the reviews I read on trip advisor were pretty bad.
    I want this holiday to be very special for my parents as they are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
    Please advise. Also what can we do on board as we have only 1 full day.
    B Rgds

    1. Hi Shade, whether it’s worthwhile is ultimately depends on what type of traveller you are, personally mega cruises like this aren’t quite my thing because I like exploring on my own time and for cheaper, but I know plenty of people who enjoy such cruises so it’s worthwhile to them. Have a think of what type of travellers you and your family are before deciding :)

      I’m wondering if it’s possible for you to email the cruise people and see if they can help you arrange something special for your parents if you contact them beforehand? There are some fancy restaurants on board, maybe you could have a meal at one of them though it costs a little extra, but given those are premium restaurants I’m sure they can arrange something personal or special for your family if you give them a heads up. Alternatively if you are willing to splurge, the premium class room has its own butler, so they can definitely arrange something for you as well, but it costs more of course.

      I did the 5N cruise so the activities arranged might be a bit different from what’s on the 2N cruise. If your ship stops in port somewhere, it will probably be nice to get off for a bit and then have a nice dinner and maybe a show on board? Just some little opinions that I hope help a little.

  18. Hi Myself Hitesh shah and planning to go on 11 March 2018. Is it worth to go along cruise arrange trip at Penang, port kelang and Phuket ? If we remain on ship then what are the activities they allow to do.

    1. well I skipped Klang but visited Penang and Phuket and spent the day lounging around just reading. I did enjoy getting out at Penang and Phuket because you do feel a little cooped up if you stay on the ship for the entire period.

      There’s a whole list of activity happening throughout the day, too much for me to list here – you can get the activity schedule every morning on the ship, just take note of the timings! The facilities are much less crowded because most people are out during the morning and afternoon.

  19. How about vegetarian food available on Cruise?as we are pure vegetarians would it be difficult for us to survive?
    Do they allow any food items to be carried to the rooms?

    1. There are vegetarian food options so you should be fine :)

      You can bring your own food on board as far as I know except for some fruits in certain ports, don’t think that will be an issue.

    1. wifi is a paid service unless you are in the VIP tier! It’s like $20/day for the normal tier and I think there’s a max of 2 devices. I wouldn’t say it’s the strongest either but then again you are out in the middle of nowhere at points…

  20. Thanks for your great report . I am an Ausi travel agent and won a trip with hubby on Genting Dream balcony cabin same itinerary .we are off from Singapore on the 28th Jan so your info is wonderful . Have cruised most other lines and been to all the ports before but will be interested to compare . I am sure it will be quite a different experience to celebrity etc. will take the drink package and just kick back and wait for the crowds to clear .have to do a report for the mag in my return .

  21. Hey Ivan, deck 13 is dream suite room, deck 16 and 17 are palace suite room, both are under dream palace which denotes VIP. Ask for palace suite, the location is much better and I just walk out and palace restaurant right outside. Suite pool deck, suite gym is a staircase away. I have no problem with sleeping at all on deck 17. Cheers~

  22. We booked 3nos PALACE suite rm. 1st room-2adult + 7yrs old child. 2nd room-2adult. 3rd room-2adult which my daughter is pregnant. We are 7member in the family seeking for the year end 2017 gathering. We are staying in the Genting dream cruise for 2nights sailing to high sea.

    Our Palace suite room is on the deck 13. There is no deck 14. Above the Palace suite room is deck 15 “Crystal Life FITNESS” which I attached the floor plan and photo.

    1st night. 5am in the morning, We were bombed by loud sound above and shaken us the whole early morning to wake up. The sound and feeling is like being PUNCHED very hard in the chest as we enclosed in the metal cubical room. The next day, we talk to the butler service and he take note.

    2nd night, 230am, we again were disturbed by the loud bang which I guess the weights or dumb bell drop to the floor at deck 15 in the fitness gym. I called up the receptionist, Ms Suan answer the call and told me the fitness gym is closed at 1am. Than she send housekeeping staff to my room to check.

    The housekeeping staff came, I invited him to the room, the staff was in the room for about 5mins. The staff experience himself the banging noise from deck 15, which he admitted it is from the fitness gym. There might b staff using the gym as the 4000guest are deny entry after 1am.

    I paid for my family to enjoy Palace suite room to have quality time togather, we have child n pregnant daughter to go thru horror night sleep.

    So my advice to top Guest paying top $ to AVOID Palace suite 13002 to Palace suite 13020. Afternoon nap is as bad bcos some of 4000 guest will drop the weight/dumb bell onto the floor to wake u up in that stretch area. Good mental and good night peaceful sleep is important. Pls consider………………

    The rest of other area, we have the VIP access. These are the truth of 2nights stay in Genting Dream Cruise my 7 members of the family experience.

    1. HI Ivan,

      thanks for sharing. Can i check with you for VIP, do you have to pay extra if you want to eat more outside the regular meals? Example tea break, etc?

      During you stay, do you have to pay for any thing extra? Activities, food, etc.

  23. Hi! Thanks for sharing! May i know where did you go in Phuket besides the beach nearby the port? Did you have to get a transfer ticket for travel from the land to the cruise as well? Thank you!

    1. we booked our own driver at the port, i can’t remember the name of the place exactly because the driver brought us there but they had ziplining and ATV and elephant rides, not too far away. You’re actually pretty near the big buddha if I remember correctly!

      no need ticket for going back, you just show up at the port before the last call and get on the boat.

    2. IPLs advice what kings of cloths to carry n what all essentials to carry . I am travelling on 23rd June, 2019

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