Manila Bay Dinner Cruise

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Manila Bay Dinner Cruise may have fallen way below our expectations, but there is nothing that can disappoint a family that eats together, then laughs together. 

When all else fails, give yourself a Moon bath

The major plan was to take the husband out on a special dinner for his birthday last September 22. But work got in the way so I ended up having our reservations for a dinner cruise in Manila Bay rescheduled three times. We finally made it on November 1 (yes, we define “romantic dinner” differently around here). I'm grateful that Prestige Cruises, Inc. was patient with me and was always accommodating everytime I called for a change of schedule. Getting through their line is a totally different story though. It would take me more than 20 attempts before I could get through. The line was either busy or would suddenly go “out of service”.

The ship
All four of us, Mr Young, Cole, Attika and myself, were moon watching while waiting for our ship when we suddenly heard blasting music. We realized it was coming from the prosaic vessel nearing the dock. When you hear shrilling voices accompanied by a squawking sound system, you begin to get an inkling that the entire concept of an enchanting dinner becomes nothing more than a burst bubble. But no singers from hell could ruin our night — we owe that to our propensity to make fun of ourselves. When we were boarding the ship, I knew we'd have something to crack up about over chocolate drinks before we hit the sack that night. 

Prestige Cruises, Inc., host of the "romantic" dinner buffet 
The food
The dinner was supposed to be a buffet of the best Filipino cuisine. It was a buffet of Filipino dishes alright, but the choices looked like they were transported from a very distant barrio fiesta where a newbie was hired to prepare a small feast for 80 guests. The guests had to wait in a long queue to be served by waiters who gave us a little over a spoonful of serving for each viand. 

On the buffet table was pancit bihon (thin rice noodles), dinuguan (pork blood stew), fish with tofu and menudo. I grew up in the province where the simplest dish could be a heavenly gastronomic experience. My first bite that night until the last one was a doleful three minutes. It made me think of my dead ancestors and how disgraced those great cooks would be if they'd tasted what I had. It was an eat-all-you can dinner but finishing only half of what's on my plate was more than enough for that experience.

Drinks were also exorbitantly priced. I thought of drinking bottled water to make me feel better but that, too, offered nothing much — just a sting in my pocket. The upper deck, where the bar was, was offered for those who were willing to pay PhP 100 more for cocktails and “a better view” of the bay. 

(In your) Facing the music
When dinner started, the singers, a duo of an old man who sounded like a really bad version of Allan K and a younger woman who mispronounced every word in every song, began their grand show. They had duets of some 80's songs and versions of versions of pop songs. They had a long list of people to greet after every song and that made me wonder how many people exactly boarded the ship that night. In the middle of dinner, “guest performers” were called in and two ladies enthusiastically ran up to the front to begin their song numbers. It wouldn't have been so bad if we weren't in the middle of Manila Bay where the only option was to jump out to the water. All four of them sang in turns until the ship docked an hour and a half later. 

Was I ever so glad that Attika was running around grabbing people's hairs, tablecloths and knocking down chairs. That got me very busy and that somehow offered some comfort to a harrowing night. 

Let the music play--no, no,no!
The other guests in the restroom 
Of all the things that I experienced in the ship, the one in the restroom was probably something that I could not let go easily. It was a dingy, tiny space with an uncovered trash bin. There seemed to have been no effort from the management to do something about the walls so it would look even just a bit better than panels drooling with slime. While I was in there, a tiny guest came crawling freely towards my shoe. Then another one crossed my path when I was about to leave. Really, inviting cockroaches to a dinner buffet is not the way to go. 

When all else fails, give yourself a Moon bath
To say that the dinner turned out grody is the truth exactly. However, I don't like letting experiences like that turn me into a kvetching mother of two Aliens. We do get a lot of gorgeous views of the moon every night from where we live, but watching the full moon while floating in the middle of Manila Bay offered a whole new perspective, a winsome experience for our family — that's the only reason why I'm not screaming right now.

Oh well, it's the company you keep

My awesome three
Mall of Asia. We would have loved to be in that Ferris wheel instead

Manila Bay dinner cruise review, Prestige Cruises, full moon, eat-all-you can, sunset, cruise ship, Philippines, family event

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