Introduction – Southeast Asia Cruise

Introduction - Southeast Asia Cruise
British Airways Terraces Lounge - O'Hare Terminal 5
Cathay Pacific B777 Business Class - Chicago to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific "The Wing" Business Class Lounge - Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific B777 Regional Business Class - Hong Kong to Singapore
Grand Hyatt Singapore
Singapore - Sentosa Island, Universal Studios, and SEA Aquarium
Singapore - Chinatown, Botanic Gardens, and Raffles
Singapore - Orchard Road and Diamond Princess Boarding
Diamond Princess - Sea Day 1
Kota Kinabalu - Sabeh Cultural Center and Lok Kawi Zoo
Diamond Princess - Sea Day 2
Vung Tau and Vietnamese Countryside
Saigon - City Tour
Sanctuary of Truth and Pattaya
Bangkok - City Tour
Ko Samui - 4x4 Tour
Diamond Princess - Sea Day 4
Singapore - Gardens by the Bay and Singapore Flyer
Qantas Lounge Singapore, Malaysian B737 Business Class, Golden Lounge Kuala Lumpur
Japan Airlines B787 Sky Suite Business Class – Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo
Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge Tokyo Narita
Japan Airlines B777 Sky Suite Business Class – Tokyo to Chicago
Recap and Final Thoughts - Southeast Asia Cruise

I have been wanting to visit Asia for quite some time.  After my parents returned from their trip and raved about it, I knew we had to go.  We decided on a cruise because it took some of the headache of planning away and we just really like cruising.  In addition, Samantha was very concerned about the food situation and knowing that a dinner on the cruise ship was always available in the evenings assuaged some concerns.  While we definitely did not get a completely unique, local experience, we chose a couple tours that gave us better insight into local culture.

Our flights were out of O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in Chicago.  I wanted to lock down the flights when availability on the international segments became available.  There wasn’t any availability from our home airport to Chicago.  I didn’t want to miss out on the international segments, so we decided to tough out the drive up to Chicago.  We flew Cathay Pacific business class to Singapore and JAL business class home.

Our air routing was as follows.

We spent two days in Singapore in the Grand Hyatt Singapore.  I chose to pay out of pocket for the hotel because I had suite upgrades that were expiring, and I had read good things about the lounge.  We then boarded the Diamond Princess for an 11 day cruise.  We had a balcony cabin on the Baja deck towards the front of the ship.  Our booked itinerary for the cruise was:

  • Singapore, Singapore
  • Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
  • Nha Trang, Vietnam
  • Phu My, Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City)
  • Sihanoukville, Cambodia
  • Laem Chabong, Thailand (Bangkok)
  • Ko Samui, Thailand
  • Singapore, Singapore

Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate the entire trip and we missed the ports of Nha Trang, Vietnam and Sihnoukville, Cambodia.  Here was the cruise itinerary we actually sailed.

Planning for this trip began about a year before with the booking of the cruise and airfare. See information below about how we paid for the various pieces of the trip.

Money Miles Notes
Cathay Pacific Business Class ORD-SIN $73 110,000 AAdvantage Miles
Grand Hyatt Singapore – 2 Nights $471 0 Used Diamond Suite Upgrade
Diamond Princess Cruise Fare $3333 0 $400 off from AMEX offer

On-Board Credit

  • $400 – Booking bonus
  • $200 – AMEX Platinum Cruise Privileges
  • $100 – Stockholder credit
Excursions/Onboard Expenses $805 0
Ko Samui Private Excursion $130 0
Singapore Misc Expenses $200 0  Gardens by the Bay, Singapore Flyer, Meals, etc.
Japan Airlines Business Class SIN-ORD $110 140,000 AAdvantage Miles
Totals $5122 250,000 AAdvantage Miles

As you can see, I was able to book the first flight at the pre-devaluation rate of 55,000 miles to Asia 2 region, but the return was at the new level of 70,000. I had been planning to use United or ANA miles to fly home. Then I saw availability on the JAL flight.  JAL has Sky Suite business class which had great reviews, and I wanted to give that a try. So I transferred some SPG miles and booked us on JAL.

I will detail day by day activities in upcoming posts.

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