An extraordinary birthday trip – Singapore’s Cruise to Nowhere.



We had the best time on a little ocean getaway over my birthday and were able to wave goodbye to everything for 48 hours. 

It’s my birthday, and we are yet stuck in Singapore. And since there is no change in travel restrictions and closed borders anywhere soon upon the horizon, we decided to go on the only trip that Singapore offers: A Seacation, or, as they call it here, a “Cruise to Nowhere”. A ship that leaves Singapore only to come back to the same port two or three days later. With no actual destination but the ocean and nothing to see but blue and only blue, it sounds like all we need.

The World Dream’s departure and destination spot: Singapore.

Quite frankly, I would generally not consider myself a cruise person. In fact, I am quite opposed to it – for ecological reasons and the amount of money you seem to be spending on a tiny little cabin that is often missing a window and doesn’t offer any intimacy or comfort. Especially in times of a pandemic, where a cruise ship is basically “a floating petri dish”, with its “everything-under-one-roof”-concept that I would avoid already on land. But since the Seacation was the only real alternative to a Staycation (where you stay in an expensive hotel in the city you have been stuck in for the longest time anyway), I was desperately in need of a change of scenery. That’s basically how I quite literally threw my caution to the wind and booked two nights, three days stay on the World Dream, offered by Dream Cruises. 

An extraordinary choice as I might say so. That’s because while the internationally well-known brand Royal Caribbean is particularly popular among expats, the World Dream is targeted more towards Asian clients. It’s from bow to stern a gaming ship, with slots machines (and tables for mahjong!) everywhere, and overall many indoor activities, including a zip line, two pools, a casino, 11 restaurants and cafés, and various shows.

The World Dream offers two pools, a casino, 11 restaurants and cafés, and various shows.

Since it was my birthday, we splurged on “The Palace Suite” – an all-suite class with its own dedicated pool area, jacuzzis, spa, gym, and dining options including happy hour.

As palace guests, we could board the ship prior to all other guests, which saved us lots of waiting time and also made the covid-testing experience more convenient, since we were prioritized and assisted throughout the check- in and boarding procedure. Upon arrival, a dedicated butler came to our room to present us the many possibilities we had on board and support us with reservations for pool, restaurants, etc. Unfortunately, those were needed, as every attraction had limited time slots for the guests (mainly due to Covid and according max. capacities on decks etc). Although, as palace guests, we could choose from any specialty restaurants for lunch in dinner, with the dining already being included in the price we paid upfront.

For me, it was first and foremost the expansive cabin floor plan, the large balcony, and the proximity to upper decks and the pool area that sold me on booking a Palace Room on the Dream Cruise. Despite being marvelous, the Palace Suite hardly looks like a cruise stateroom either, but more like a very private, luxurious room plus balcony in the middle of the ocean. I don’t think that our experience and residing in the Palace Suite reflects an actual cruise feeling, though, and I don’t think I will turn into a genuine cruise lover anytime soon. Although I have to say that I very much enjoyed the three days on the Dream Cruise – mostly because we stayed in the not-so-cruise-like-state-room. Ironic, hm?

Three days and two nights on the open water

Finally, the day before my birthday was coming up. Around noon, we drove to the Port of Singapore. For the first time in over a year, we had packed a suitcase and were asked to carry our passports. Even though we were not technically leaving Singapore and remained on Singapore ground for Covid rules and restrictions, international waters apparently ask for travel documents and information. Well, I did not mind at all. I was also anxious of the Covid Antigen Rapid Test that everyone had to absolve before boarding. Having dealt with fairly small covid infection numbers in Singapore throughout the pandemic so far, we hadn’t done any Covid test before, and I was frankly afraid of it. Luckily, it was a quick procedure, mostly due to our Palace Guest status, and it didn’t hurt at all.

As Palace Suite guests, we were not only able to board earlier, but we were also able to enter the ship via a separate entrance, where check-in was done for us. Even though we did not leave Singapore, we had to present passports and the covid-test results. That’s when we also received “Tracey”, the personal contact-tracing device that we were obligated to wear 24/7 for the next couple of days. Yikes.

Once arrived in our room, we were told to wait for our personal butler, who unfortunately made us wait quite a time for him. Luckily, we had a huge balcony, that we could enter mask-less. From there, we enjoyed the perfect view of Singapore’s skyline. When the butler finally arrived after about an hour, he helped us make reservations in several restaurants and the pool area, where four Jacuzzis were waiting for us. We booked the Jacuzzi right in time for The Palace happy hour.

So there were we, sitting in a hot Jacuzzi on a cruise ship anchoring in Singapore, sipping on Prosecco and watching the city’s skyline becoming golden from the setting sun. Life in Singapore didn’t seem too bad all of a sudden

Another first was waiting for us in the evening: Our butler had made a reservation at the hot pot on one of the outdoor decks. We had never tried the popular Korean fondue barbecue before, despite having lived in Singapore for about 1.5 years already. While we dipped our vegetable skewers into steaming broths and delicious sauces, the World Dream finally left the board and opened up an ocean panorama and fresh sea breezes that we had missed for such a long time. Finally, after locked up in the tiny island state for so long, we left Singapore. I might have shed a tear. Soon, after we left, the captain would introduce himself and the team and announce that we would be navigating out to Singapore Strait and turning east into the South China Sea. Exciting!

After dinner, we went to the bubbles bar and ordered a glass of champagne. At 10:30 p.m., the nightly curfew set in, which was meticulously observed. Fortunately, we had our great balcony, on which we could sit enjoy the fantastic views into nothing but blue darkness. The breeze was so amazing and refreshing that we even left the balcony door wide open overnight. To fall asleep while breathing the fresh ocean breeze was incredible.

I woke up to bright sunshine and an incredible ocean view – what a perfect start to my birthday! While I was getting ready, Daniel set up a beautiful birthday table with gifts of a bottle of champagne and even a cake that the butler had organized. For the first time in my life, I would celebrate my birthday at sea. And after having spent 1.5 years in the same place and a round birthday in full lockdown you can trust me that I felt incredible joy and happiness.

After breakfast, we headed to the pool deck, where we had booked another hour in the hot tub. Fortunately, there was no one else on deck, so we could spend the afternoon at the pool. Later, however, it became too hot even for us, and we went below deck to the lounge to make a high tea. But it was rather unspectacular, which is why we ordered a glass of Prosecco at happy hour and sat back on our balcony, which now proved itself again. 

In the evening, there was again a premiere for us: we went to Umi Uma, a Japanese style teppanyaki restaurant where we would experience an eventful live-cooking. We heard from friends that it had rained all day in Singapore. The food was fantastic, and we were happier than ever with our choice to have gone to sea. 

The popular Umi Uma on deck 8 serves sushi, teppanyaki and Japanese style Shabu Shabu.

A bottle of champagne awaited us in our room to celebrate my birthday, so we sat on the balcony with a glass, listening to music and looking out to sea. It was so beautiful.

The following day I woke up at sunrise and took beautiful photos. Being awake already very early in the morning, we used the time left as good as we could and hit the gym before going to breakfast. At around 9 am, we docked back in Singapore. 48 hours at sea, monitored but super happy.

Some information about being on a cruise during a pandemic:

Dream Cruises follows very strict safety measures that made this Cruise to Nowhere possible in the first place — but they also made the experience so structured that it wasn’t always much fun. I will be very open and frank what to expect when booking a seacation:

  • There is a curfew: Despite being the only option to leave Singapore, it doesn’t mean Singapore’s 10.30 pm alcohol rule does not apply. Drinks end at 10 pm, and service staff will clear your glasses at dot 10.30 pm, even if unfinished. In our case, they were super early, unfortunately.

  • Bookings are required for every little thing, such as visiting the pool, using the sauna, and pretty much every other activity on board and mostly limited to one hour only. Mingling with other people is strictly discouraged and depends on the current rules in Singapore mainland, in our case that meant 8 people max.

  • You are very much monitored and have to wear a personal tracker called “Tracey” at all times. You have to present and scan Tracey, your room card and sometimes even the running Trace Together App at various check points, and let the staff check your temperature.

  • Lastly, mask wearing ins mandatory when not in your own room or eating, or drinking at a restaurant, which means sunbathing with a mask on.

  • There are “cruise ambassadors” in dark blue polo shirts to ensure guests keep their distance from one another and they are hella alert. And there are plenty of cameras, everywhere!

    … Big S is watching you for sure, even at the sea!


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