If you are scheduled to visit Koh Samui on a cruise I suggest you think again!
Our day began badly when it was announced that you needed your passport to go ashore and if you hadn't had it delivered to your cabin the previous evening by your cabin steward, then you had to collect it from guest services who hold your passports for the duration of the cruise.Why I'm not too sure.
Anyway, it was explained by our cabin steward that we had been out the previous evening...well we would be , it was dinner time.... and as we had to sign for them he couldn't just leave them in our cabin.
We headed to guest services and joined the chaos of dozens of people all needing their passports returned.
To make matters worse this was a"tender port". We had to go ashore by boat.
We'd managed reasonably well using the ships lifeboats in Halong Bay and got off the Sapphire Princess with little delay. Here it was a totally different story.
An announcement had been made as early as 7.00am asking those passengers who hadn't booked an organised tour to leave it a bit later to queue for a tender. Fair enough, we left it until 9.30am before heading to the appointed place. The queues were enormous, there was an overflow waiting area to the overflow waiting area.
This was the problem.
This was one of two tenders that the port authorities insisted had to be used.
As you can see compared to the Sapphire Princess they are not very big.
In fact they are tiny in comparison.
Each boat could take 100 passengers for each trip. The trip took about 20 minutes each way as the ship was docked some distance from the harbour.
3000 want to get off.
You can do the maths .
The answer is chaos!!!
We eventually got on land at about 11.30am, we were lucky! However, the last tender was due to go back at 4.00pm and guessing it would be bedlam we decided to have a couple of beers at the nearest bar then return earlier to the ship.
By the time we had got to the head of the queue to board our tender we had been stood there for at least an hour.
The queue meantime had grown even longer.
Snaking around the landing stage and down the pier.
In fact it reached the bar we had been sat in I'm told.Maybe being at the back of the queue was the best place to be!
Anyway, the last tender carried on until 6.00pm to get everyone on board 2 hours late.
I can't really comment on Koh Samui as we didn't see much of it.
Neither did the passengers on the return cruise because the Captain apparently refused to dock as once again the harbour authorities insisted on using their tenders.
Can't say I blame him.