New Year's Dinner Cruise
Fazwan and I have been friends for almost seven years but this was our first time celebrating New Year's together. Whilst planning for this trip, we were cracking our brains trying to think of a place where we could enjoy an uninterrupted view of the fireworks display without being stuck in the middle of a crowd. I was thinking of booking two seats for dinner at the Sky Bar but.. Fazwan is afraid of heights
We initially wanted to go to a rooftop restaurant but after searching, halal food options wouldn't be available since most of them are bars, so before departing for Bangkok, Fazwan surprised me by booking two seats for dinner right in the middle of the Chao Phraya River, just so that we can have a memorable start to the year - major plus points for you, sir.
Just look at his annoying caption:
7 years ago, we first met at Escape Theme Park on the pirate ship but she didn’t remember of my existence - although I sat right next to her. So this year, we celebrated our new year.... on a freaking cruise ship. She’d better remember. #explorewithtwfm
A post shared by Fazwan Roslan (@m.rfazwan) on Jan 1, 2018 at 5:44am PST
I am writing this because:
a) I received a lot of questions from my friends about our New Year's celebration
b) there are also many conflicting reviews on Klook for this particular activity and
c) I wish someone had written an in-depth review before we went for this
So I figured, I'll be that person, for whoever is booking this activity in the future. I will write this in chronological order from the booking process, boarding process, until the disembarkation. You are welcome, my friend.
Disclaimer: This post was not written under the pressure or sponsorship of any of parties mentioned. This is simply me, sharing about my experience for this particular activity, booked through this particular website. Your experience may or may not be similar to mine.
Booking the tickets:
There were three different options to choose from, but this is only applicable for New Year's Eve. I can't remember the packages specifically, but if I'm not mistaken - one of it was a 5 hour dinner cruise from 7.30pm to 12.30am for SGD160 per pax and the other was a 2 hour dinner cruise from 7.30pm to 9.30pm for SGD110 per pax. Fazwan chose the last available option which he thought was most value for money.
*Price is only for New Year's Eve. On normal days, it's SGD39 per pax.
Everything was done online through Klook and everything was quite straight forward. We received the booking confirmation a few minutes after making the booking, together with the e-voucher (pictured above) that we were supposed to use for redemption. However, do take note that payment has to be made upon booking and no reservations or refunds are allowed after the booking confirmation is sent to you or if you're late for the checking in process.
The meeting point is located at the Chao Phraya Princess ticketing counter, right outside River City. The recommended directions on Klook's website is a little troublesome, in my opinion. You are to take the train to BTS Saphan Taksin, then get a taxi from BTS Saphan Taksin to River City Pier which costs you THB50 - that is if the driver follows the meter religiously, which most of them do not, especially if you're a tourist.
We went ahead to take the convenient way out - to save time from switching modes of transportation and save the hassle of bargaining, and decided to book an Uber instead - our favourite way of getting around in Thailand. It only cost us around THB150 per trip.
The information on our Klook voucher said that check in was at 7.20pm, so Fazwan and I decided to head to River City early and we arrived at around 6.30pm. Unfortunately (or luckily, depending on how you look at it) for us, check in for our New Year's Eve itinerary (Program B) only opens at 10pm. That means that we had around 4 hours to spare before our actual check in time - so we headed back to our hotel and came back to River City around 9.30pm.
There are many other cruise providers located at the same pier, so be sure to check your booking confirmation properly and read all of the fine print. As for ours, we booked the Chao Phraya Princess cruise and the ticketing counter was located right outside River City, near Tom N Toms cafe.
The staff visually verified my booking voucher, and then proceeded to check my name against their list + provide me with the actual tickets + a flower brooch pinned to my dress + a cruise sticker. These items are used as identification, and the actual tickets also included our cruise number and table numbers for verification on board the ship.
Important: You need to redeem your voucher at this ticketing counter in exchange for the actual physical tickets. You will be denied entry onto the cruise if you do not have the physical tickets + flower brooch + cruise sticker.
Once you step out of the ticketing counter, a few staff dressed up in traditional Thailand costumes will approach (or more like come at you, because I was honestly startled) and snap 3 - 4 of your photos out the blue. We didn't know what this was for initially, but it was actually for framed souvenirs that you can purchase on board, towards the end of the trip, for THB150 per picture.
The Boarding Process:
This was the part where most Klook users were complaining about - and I have to say, I agree. So this was what happened- After redeeming our physical tickets and getting the stickers / flower brooch, we had awhile to waste so we decided to grab a cup of coffee from Tom N Toms, which was right at the entrance of Pier 1 - where our boarding gate will be at.
At around 10pm, we saw staffs holding on to signages with our cruise name on it + putting up queue poles to mark as the "entry point" for passengers. Being the Singaporean that we are, we started a queue and a few other passengers queued behind us. Shortly after, tour groups started approaching the entrance to Pier 1 and the queue was non-existent.
This was what I meant:
There were only around 2-3 staff handling this whole herd of human specimen. They called out the cruise ship name one at a time, and passengers belonging to that particular cruise would enter via the gate. Fazwan and I had to wait for awhile as there were other cruises utilising that same pier and the pier could only dock one cruise ship at a time - or so we thought.
At around 10.20pm, the staff opened the gates to Pier 1 and the whole herd of humans were allowed to enter the gate - all at the same time. There were 3 Chao Phraya Princess cruise ships docked side by side, and we had to cut through the other 2 ships since ours was parked last. There were staffs on board each ship that will identify which ship you belong to based on your sticker colour, and then either tell you to keep going or tell you that you're on the right ship.
Lucky for us, we were at the front of the queue poles when they opened it up and well, I play rugby, so even though I was in a dress I literally shouldered anyone that tried to cut my non existent queue. But even so, I feel that this was just a huge culture shock for people who are expecting something more organised and/or if someone was attending this dinner with an elderly or a child. I really don't know how to describe it but the whole boarding experience was noisy and chaotic but systematic at the same time? An organised mess? Yeah.
This was the only culture shocking part. Once we went through 2 ships and reached ours, the staff asked for our tickets and escorted us to our seats. From thereon, everything was bearable and pleasant again. At 10.30pm sharp, the ships took off from the pier.
Surprisingly, I did not make any seat requests. And thankfully, we were given the best seats on the upper deck. Why I say that these were the best seats? It was situated right at the front of the ship, away from the bar and food line = away from the crowd and drunk passengers. We don't really like it when people reek of alcohol.
The All-You-Can-Eat Buffet:
The all you can eat buffet was the second thing that was most complained about in the Klook reviews - this I have to disagree. I felt that there was sufficient food on board and just enough variety too. It was stated as "gourmet buffet of Thai delicacies and international cuisines". I don't know if it was gourmet, but they were authentic cuisines and it was pretty well received by the crowd, from what I witnessed. Halal food options are also available upon request, by the way! So do let the staff know before you board the ship.
I could compare the buffet to the likes of Straits Kitchen or Carousel but come on, let's be realistic, this isn't a buffet at a 5-star hotel. We had food on the table and the company of each other. That was enough for me that night.
For those of you who asked, there was also a bar on board but alcoholic drinks are not included in the package, so you gotta pay for what you order from the bar. If you're anything like us, you'll definitely enjoy the free flow of fruit juice!
HAHAHA OKAY I'M JUST KIDDING.
This was one of their selling points and I must say, it made the messy boarding experience worth it. It was really pleasant to get to spend the night eating by the river. It was not quiet - that's for sure. There were performances throughout the night and crowd cheers can be heard in the background, but it was a unique experience to have dinner on a moving ship.
At around 11.45pm, the ship stopped cruising and parked itself in the middle of the river. The dance floor was open for anyone who wanted to show their moves but we just sat down and enjoyed the food / the view / company of each other.
The disembarkation process was half as chaotic as the boarding process, probably because half of the crowd was drunk and still dancing, while a remaining few stayed on deck to continue snapping photos of themselves on the ship. We were part of the few who made a run for it the moment the ship docked on the pier and this lovely couple that sat beside us on the ship helped us take a few lovely shots with the ship in the background.
Seeing that this is a tourist destination, most of the Tuk Tuk and taxi drivers here would jack up the price to as low as THB500 for a fifteen minute ride. I pitied most of the ang mohs who kept going from taxi to taxi, only to be given such a ripped off price for a short ride. We used Uber and although we had to wait 9 minutes for the driver to come pick us up due to the high demand on New Year's night, we only paid THB200 for our ride back home.
As I had mentioned earlier, there were quite a number of conflicting reviews on Klook's page but all in all, as I have mentioned above, I agree and disagree with everybody else. These were the selling points that were written on Klook's website, and that was exactly what we got.
If you're looking to book the same experience, or search for something similar, sign up for Klook using this link and get a discount for your first booking!
To summarise our experience,
What we liked:
Our pretty seats. The food. The view. The service of the staffs there and the sense of urgency that they had when some of the drunk passengers dropped their champagne glasses on the dance floor. This happened multiple times and they literally ran into the middle, to clean up the mess.
What we didn't like:
The mass boarding process. The lack of accurate information on the check in time for our specific program - we wasted time and money because of this. The ignorant passengers who kept coming into our seat zone to take photos. There is a viewing deck for god's sake. You did not have to push me while I was trying to eat my chicken satay peacefully.
Frequently Asked Questions
Anyway! Fazwan and I posted on our instastory and gave our friends a chance to ask us questions with regards to this dinner. Here are the list of questions:
Was it easy to book and redeem?
Yes! Read the description above for booking and redemption.
Did you request for good seats?
Nope! We were lucky to be given the best seats without requesting and I don't think you can request for seat, the website says that seats are given at a first come first served basis. But if you'd like to try, do request to be seated at the top deck, nearest to the captain's room - because that's where we sat and the uninterrupted view was amazing.
I'll be in Bangkok for a company retreat. Can they take in groups?
Yes! There are tables set aside for big groups, some even booked the whole cruise ship for their own group of pax. However, if you're planning to do that, I suggest you contact a tour agent that does group booking for this dinner - instead of paying the price individually through Klook.
Did eating on the ship made you sea sick?
Nope. Fazwan was okay too. It was moving pretty steadily and it's a river, so there weren't that much waves or choppy waters.
Is this a halal buffet?
The main international buffet is not. However, halal options are available upon request. The halal buffet is made up of Thai and Indian cuisines.
How much did it cost?
The dinner was priced at SGD132 per pax, and this was the cheapest out of the New Year dinner cruises available. However, on a regular day, this dinner will cost you SGD39 per pax.
Did your night ended safely?
Yes, it did. Everyone came back safely.
Would you book this again?
Yes, but I would go on a regular day instead.
If you have any questions that weren't answered here, feel free to drop me a message or a comment and I'll get back to you with what I know! Well, I hope this extensive review was sufficient for you to decide whether or not to make that booking, but rest assured, Fazwan and I sure did enjoy our New Year's Eve celebration. Til next time!
This blog post was not written under any pressure, endorsement or sponsorship of any of the parties mentioned. All thoughts and opinions here are as always, my own.