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With Seabourn from Vietnam to Singapore

Cruising with Seabourn means enjoying luxury. The restaurants are of star quality, the cabins can easily pass for luxury hotel suites and if the sea voyage, as in our case, ends in trendsetting Singapore, which seems to be years ahead of the rest of the world, you feel truly the king's richest.
Esther Quelle

Singapore Airlines flies us safe and sound to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, formerly Saigon. In the bustling harbor we board the luxury cruise ship Seabourn Encore. Our cabins are wonderfully spacious. They look like hotel suites, including a walk-in closet. All cabins have a balcony and therefore a sea view. On the Pool Deck we immediately start drinking champagne and caviar, just because we can. On board the Seabourn you can drink unlimited champagne and eat endless caviar, all inclusive. Furthermore, we – photographer Esther and writer – have little else on our minds than thinking about where we will have dinner. The choice fell on the intimate sushi restaurant, which will remain our favorite all week. The atmosphere is cordial and informal, just like on the rest of the ship. After dinner there is a dance party going on on the Pool Deck with DJs. We are also participating. “Be as crazy as you want, you'll never see these people again,” the cruise director shouts enthusiastically. Running in the theater on board Crazy Rich Asians. This fascinating film is set in the heavenly circles of Singapore, the final destination of our cruise. When I finally return to my cabin, tired but satisfied, there are six pillows on the bed extra firm to ultra soft. I sink comfortably into it and feel like a princess and a pea.

high rise

The next day the Seabourn is still docked in the port of Ho Chi Minh City. From my private balcony I see sand being transferred from a ship into trucks. business as usual. With its ten million inhabitants, this is the largest city in Vietnam, which is crossed by the Saigon River. Business lines line one bank high rise and traditional homes along the other bank. Seabourn's shuttle service drops us off in the heart of the city at Union Square, right in front of the Hermès window. We are not far from the French colonial-style City Hall and a park with jasmine bushes and lotus flowers, where there is a statue of President Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969). Just after the Vietnam War, Saigon was named after this communist leader. Further on we discover the luxurious Times Square mall with home furnishings stores from Fendi Casa, B&B Italia and Maxalto. The department store is next to five-star hotel The Reverie. In the accompanying parking garage, which has hanging gardens, Rolls-Royces and VinFasts shine. Back on board, the captain announces that we are going sailing. The lines are released and we descend the Saigon River. “More caviar? More champagne?” it sounds familiar. There is at least $50.000 worth of caviar on board and countless bottles of champagne.

Zero waste

The Seabourn Encore is the life of it digital nomads, which is essentially us this week, easily thanks to the excellent Wi-Fi. Even during these days at sea the connection is good. The Retreat is an excellent place on board to work or laze in peace. This is a separate area on deck, for which you must make a reservation. You are sheltered from the sun and wind and have your own cabana with lounge beds at your disposal around a central whirlpool. The cabanas give us a beach house feeling. In the meantime, you will also be pampered here with snacks and drinks of your choice. Of the approximately 600 guests on the Seabourn Encore, there are approximately 400 staff from 60 different nationalities! This afternoon we speak with the Scottish captain David. After three months on board, he has three months off at a time. “That means six months of vacation a year and then home,” he jokes. He tells, among other things, how impressive it is to see whales, such as on the route to New Zealand. Unfortunately, he also sees climate changes happening before his eyes. Carnival Cruises, which includes Seabourn, has the environment and sustainability as an important focus and is investing millions in the field of cleaner engines and zero waste. And as this captain says: “Freight ships are much more polluting, but you don't hear anyone about that.”

Mac & Cheese

We reach Port Klang, the port of Kuala Lumpur, where we will stay overnight. Plenty of time to explore the Malaysian capital. We make our way to the Petronas Twin Towers and the park behind them, where a sculpture of a whale rises from the water. At sunset we will have a drink at the Vertigo Bar. Located in the Banyan Tree hotel, this rooftop bar prominently overlooks the twin towers. At night, when the towers are illuminated, it is a beautiful sight. A day later we go on a land excursion – of course you can also book tailor-made excursions with Seabourn – to Putrajaya, the official center of Malaysia. It is an artificial city à la Canberra in Australia, with five lakes. A boat trip takes us past the pink mosque. Back on the Seabourn we choose a strategic spot on deck when sailing away view. "You're not driving tonight!”, the waiter laughs as he pours me champagne. No way to get in between. We dine on board at The Grill. The roast duck is fantastic and the pinot noir from California superior. I also ask for the Mac & Cheese. That feels like swearing in church in this chic restaurant, but it is really on the menu, which is based on American style. It is immediately the tastiest Mac & Cheese I have ever tasted! The Grill is therefore supervised by award-winning chef Thomas Keller.

Lion city

Early in the morning we reach Singapore, where we disembark. The city was founded in 1819 by Sir Raffles and is located on a diamond-shaped island. We take three days to explore Singapore, starting with the colorful houses of Katong. Peranakan is the term for this multicultural neighborhood with influences from China, Malaysia, India and Europe. We also visit China Town. A Buddha temple, Hindu temple and mosque are close together. The detailed street art here is beautiful. The film Crazy Rich Asians learns that Singapore is the only place in the world with top quality street food. So we taste the famous Chili Crab from Singapore at the food stalls in Maxwell Hawker Center. The story goes that a man asked his wife to make him something other than egg and tomato... The rest is history. Singapore is above all the city of futuristic skyscrapers and the only floating Apple Store. Once a fishing village, now the Lion City. It was Dutchman Albert Winsemius who moved Singapore to become a successful business country. He urged the country not to 'cancel' its colonial past and turn its back on the West, but to be open for business. It brought prosperity and a focus on sustainability that amazed us. Even Changi Airport is home to a surprise: a real butterfly garden!


Want to read the entire travel report with all the hotspots in Singapore? The summer edition is a fresh cocktail of entrepreneurship and sport. In this edition, several entrepreneurs from the Champions League of business are reviewed. Including Freddy Heineken and hospitality tycoon Richard Caring, whose expanding empire has been called the 'restaurant equivalent of LVMH'. Doing business is top sport, but top sport is also doing business. Take Formula 1: the sport is increasingly developing into an octopus with arms that touch all aspects of our society. Jaap de Groot investigated how millions are converted into billions. Also interviews with gymnast Sanne Wevers, two-star chef Guido Braeken, hotelier Robert-Jan Woltering, designer Maarten Baas and Rico, together with his Naomy. The 'King of Kickboxing' also turns out to be an octopus (with very strong arms): as an entrepreneur he is active in various industries. “When I look back later, I don't want to think 'I wish I had this or that'. I just want to, boom, accelerate, do fun things, enjoy.” Boom, the new MASTERS: enjoy!

Order MASTERS Magazine #54 here