Cruising Southeast Asia

by Martin Field
Just back from a cruise on the good ship Superstar Gemini. We sailed from Singapore to Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong.
All meals were included in the cruise price, drinks were not. Cuisine was European with the occasional Asian dish. Vegetarian options were limited. In the Ocean Palace restaurant you dined semi-formally, with waiter service, table linen and all. The restaurant has a ludicrous rule that men may not wear shorts or sandals to dinner(we are in the tropics during monsoon you should know). Women wear what they like.
The ship’s other restaurant, the Mariners’ Buffet, is more casual and the food is self-served, er, from a buffet.

High-priced wine and beer
While dining at both restaurants we were astonished to see hardly any wine on tables. In fact, one night we counted 10 nearby tables where there was no wine in evidence.
This was due in my opinion, to the high cost of wine and beer. For example, a bottle of Montana Sauvignon Blanc cost approximately $46.60, (approximate Australian dollars at the cruise exchange rate – including 15% service charge). A bottle of Evans and Tate Classic White $36.25; a bottle of Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay $31, and a small can of Tiger beer $6.75. To top it off, I’d always believed that ships bought their booze duty free. (Note to Gemini beverage manager – the Lindemans wine is readily obtainable in Australia for under $8 the bottle.)
As travelling medicine I’d bought a litre of high octane (50.5% alcohol) Wild Turkey Bourbon duty free in Australia for $35, no way was I going to pay $31 for an entry level white. I’m sure many other Australians on board – used to drinking good, inexpensive wine – felt the same. Note: maybe 85 per cent of passengers were Australian.

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