Travelled in March 2016. Booking was easy through the website and also when we amended our booking to include a return crossing. We decided to pay the day before sailing in case there were any delays in the Shanghai rush hour the next morning.
I don’t think they were expecting callers on the 15th Floor at 908 Dongdaming Road as one guy was laid out in his old school style camp bed and sleeping bag in the office and the cleaning lady was our main source of information as to where to go. We paid in Yen and left after 30 minutes, hand written tickets in hand.
The ship is called Su Zhou Huo but we have since recommended they rename it the Home of the Flying Vomit
Next day’s check in was straight-forward and our group of five made up 21 passengers in all with us as the only Westerners. Not long after our departure, the crew started putting out sick bags on the rails outside our cabin and a supply of anti-sickness tablets on the information desk and we were told to expect bad weather from 4pm today until 7pm the next day. They weren’t joking and we experienced the worst sea voyage of our lives.
It’s not a big ship and doesn’t have the stabilisers of the larger cruise ships and ferries. We pitched and rolled and the ship creaked and groaned over huge swells for 27 hours as promised. Ian got out of the bunk at one point and was thrown across the cabin smacking his head and back against a post.
What followed was like scenes from a bad TV comedy, with passengers struggling to stay upright. So that is why the shop had so few things on the shelves!
Aoife was the first to join the seasick club, with Seamus waiting until the middle of the night. Orla held out the longest but then made up for it vomiting more than anyone, although I came a close second.
Breakfast was free, but there weren’t many takers. The Chinese staff were kind and attentive throughout. The steward came to our cabin and offered room service as he said it was too dangerous for the children to walk to the restaurant. He was confused at us not eating meat, but every meal had a couple of extra complimentary plates of tofu or vegetables. Meals worked out at around 2000 yen which included drinks. The vending machines sold a good selection of beers, drinks, milk and there was a pot noodle machine with free hot water dispenser.
Staff were lovely, giving the children free fruit once the seasickness has stopped. We sat downstairs eating oranges and Chinese apples whilst watching an old James Bond movie in dubbed in Chinese with Japanese subtitles (or the other way round!) We made our own sound track “But Mr Bond, I am just a girl so I am going to fall in love with you”
We tried our hand at Karaoke in the bar at 100 yen a song. Requests were an eclectic mix of Ghostbusters, I’m a Believer and We Will Rock You. Thankfully the bar was empty or we would have cleared it.
Showers were hot and as first class passengers, we had access to the Japanese bath on the top deck (which would have been open in good weather only). The only difference between us and 2nd class was the washbasin. The Special Classes A-C above us had showers and toilet and VIP had a fridge, bathtub and DVD.
A notice went up the night before our scheduled arrival saying that our new arrival time was 8am the day after. Other than the time and date, the rest was in Chinese. No explanation other than the Captain has decided. So we spent an additional 22 hours on board with complimentary meals and unlimited wifi ( normally 100 Yen per hour). After such a terrible seasick filled journey, the thought of another day and night was the last thing we wanted. One of the stewards who spoke Japanese called our airbnb to explain our delay. If we had a connecting flight or train, we would have been screwed. At this point, we are not sure how many of us will be completing the return journey we have booked for three weeks time and how many will decide to fly back to Shanghai. However, we are now in Japan, on dry land, in a lovely small apartment with a nice shower and comfy futon beds 🙂