Monday, December 31, 2018

Reflections for 2018 - A Tough Year To Go Through But Ended Well

2018 A Tough Year

2018 will be ending soon. Its another year to reflect again. This is no doubt the toughest year for me but life still went through nonetheless. In the beginning of the year, I had to deal with the death of a close cousin of mine who passed away due to a road accident. It was extremely sudden and we even agreed to meet up 1 week later before the accident. I never got to see him again. This is my first experience in life of losing a close family member who was around the same age as me. It was not easy at all. At the same period, I also had to deal with other family issues as well going to the hospital a few times a week.

Through this tough period, I learnt to see life in a different perspective. I see how fragile life is but at the same time how resilient we humans can be too. While most of us rely on our own hard work and efforts to live through life, when faced with issues that are out of control, some support from people around us and a little prayer comforts the soul. Through it all, the people left in this world continues to live on in search for deeper meaning of life again. After all, its the people around us that matters more than our work, our achievements or our status.

I Changed Job Again..

The first half of the year was faced with struggles. The second half of the year was faced with changes. I decided to change job again in September 2018 after just 1 year plus in the new company I joined. Somehow, this came as a surprise because I did not search for this job but a headhunter called on a random day. I decided to go for the interview and after 2 rounds, they decided to offer me and I took it up. Changing job is not an easy thing to do as I have to relearn everything and build up my network again. The first few months was tough but things got stable after awhile. I went into another new industry yet again, this time in the healthcare sector. Its quite eye opening to me actually to see how the healthcare sector is developing. There are so many people I see everyday who need treatment and the healthcare worker work tirelessly to support all these needs. Not an easy industry to be in but quite a meaningful one with passionate people working here.

Spending More Money With 2 back to back trips

Before I changed job, I took the opportunity to have a good break. I went on an epic cruise trip experiencing the finest luxury of a suite package and then a few days later, I went on another trip to Taiwan. I must have been mad to spend money like nobody's business. Life is short after all right? However, I think this was the best decision I've ever made actually. I always remind myself it doesn't hurt to spend a little more money for enjoyment.

A bad year for stocks

2018 is a bad year for stocks. The STI is negative for the year at about -7%. My portfolio is down about -5% for this year. XIRR came is at -6.45%, a negative after the past 4 years of positive investment return.

I continue to increase my exposure in stocks and took the opportunity to buy the dip. Dividends receive for next year is forecasted to be higher than this year at $4K+.

Lesser Passive/Other Income for this year

Passive/Other income decreased this year as I had less time and energy to work on my side income having to go through tough times and getting more busy after I changed job. This side income still came in decent at $14K. This includes dividends from stocks as well.

Overall total income came in higher than last year as I had a good bonus from my previous job and higher salary from my new job as well.

Increased Savings and Net Worth

My savings for this year broke a new record even with more spending. The increase in income helped quite a lot in managing my finances. My net worth is now almost doubled from 2 years ago. This savings will come in handy when preparing for my wedding and new house in about 1-2 years time.

Life still goes on after all the things that happened. I learnt to cherish life even more. While some people may be gone and some people no longer the same, if we have the opportunity to continue living, we should make the most out of it.

May 2019 be better for you and for me as well. Wishing everyone a joyous and prosperous 2019 ahead! Happy New Year 2019!

Monday, December 24, 2018

An Undervalued Stock Closely Related To Christmas

Christmas is here and the year 2018 is coming to an end. Many people are buying gifts as its the season for giving. While everyone is busy shopping, have you noticed one stock that is undervalued and closely related to Christmas?

This stock is a REIT and most of its properties are located right at the heart of central Singapore. If you've been to Orchard road to see the Disney lights or to do some Christmas shopping there, chances are you might have passed by the properties owned by the REIT. This REIT is non other than Starhill Global REIT.

An Undervalued Stock Closely Related To Christmas - Starhill Global REIT

Starhill Global REIT has 2 properties in Singapore, 3 in Australia, 2 in Malaysia, 2 in Japan and 1 in China. 62% of its revenue comes from Singapore which is why the Singapore market is especially important for this REIT. Due to lower business sentiments and poor retail and office outlook environment in Orchard, the stock price took a beating and fell to a 5 year low as seen in the chart below.

With the stock price trading at this low, it offers investors like you and me to invest in this REIT at a much greater discount. Before we get into the valuation of this REIT, let us first look at its portfolio of properties to familiarise ourselves before we make any investment decisions.

Properties owned by Starhill Global REIT

The first property owned by Starhill Global is Wisma Atria. This shopping mall should be familiar to most Singaporeans. From Orchard MRT, if you take the underpass and walk towards Takashimaya, you will definitely have to pass by Wisma Atria. When I was there about 2 weeks ago, there were so many people that it became difficult to walk. At the link-way of Wisma Atria, crowds have to be stopped by security in order for the mall to control the human traffic flow.

The next property it owns is Ngee Ann City. This property is also located near to the MRT with direct underground links. The largest tenant inside Ngee Ann City is by Toshin Development Singapore Pte. Ltd. They own Takashimaya in Singapore which most of us should know that they take up quite a huge area of retail space. Toshin development Singapore has a master lease with Ngee Ann City till 2025 so this will keep the rent they receive steady for the next few years.

Occupancy rate for retail in Singapore is 97% as at 30 Sep 2018 and committed occupancy will rise to 99.7%. For its office portfolio, occupancy rate is 92.9% with committed occupancy at 95.3%. Its top 10 tenants contribute to 58% of portfolio gross rent as seen below.

For Australia, which is Starhill's second largest portfolio contribution to its revenue, its occupancy is not that good at 88.6%. It owns properties in Perth and Adelaide.

Singapore office recovery for Starhill Global REIT

Besides retail, Starhill Global has an office portfolio too. Occupancy for office portfolio was at a low of 83.5% in Sepember 2017 and recovered to 95.3% in 2018. NPI jumped 9.7% year on year which is quite impressive.

Attractive Dividend Yield and Valuations

Investors of Starhill Global REIT get quite an attractive dividend yield on their investment. Dividend yield is about 6.67% at current price of $0.675. It is trading at a price to book ratio of 0.75x which represents a 25% discount to net asset value. Its NAV is at $0.91.

Of course when investing, we can't just look at dividend yield and book value. Although at current valuations, this stock is definitely attractive, there lies risks in this investment. It is largely dependent on the retail outlook in Singapore as this makes up most of its rental income stream. Not just retail outlook in Singapore but retail outlook in Orchard in particularly.

Orchard is a tourist area and the retail environment is very much dependant on the number of tourists arrival and visits to Orchard in Singapore. Tourists arrival and spending is still on an uptrend which I believe will benefit Starhill Global REIT. Moreover, the Singapore government has said there are plans to reinvent Orchard road to attract more locals, visitors and tourists to come.

The bottom may be near for this REIT as its stock price has fell significantly over the past few years. At current valuations, I think this is a REIT to watch out for any potential recovery and catalyst to propel it upwards. One of the catalyst is the proposed development at Wisma Atria where there is unutilised GFA of up to 100,000sqft. This is pending approval from the relevant authorities and partners.

I have initiated a position in Starhill Global REIT as the dividend yield is decent and it is trading at a discount to book value. At this level, I believe the risk reward ratio is within my tolerance level and I will look to see for future recovery and developments around the Orchard area. Rental from its Singapore properties should also remain steady as the master lease from Takashimaya continues and the occupancy for both retail and office remains high. Will also have to take note of its Australia properties which are not doing that well. That will be a drag to its performance moving forward if it doesn't improves.

Lastly, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone! Thank you for supporting my blog for another amazing year. I will be writing on my investment performance and also my review of the year in the next few post. Have an awesome last week of 2018!

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Is Passive Income Just A Fluff?

How easy it is to create passive income in our life so that we don't have to depend on our active income anymore? To be honest, it takes time and its not easy but its possible if we take one step at a time. Many years back, when I first got to know the concept of financial freedom and creating passive income, I was inspired and motivated to achieve it. However, after awhile, reality sets in and I realise its not as simple as it seems. There are some lessons which I learnt over the years which I thought will be good to share in this article.

Is Passive Income Just A Fluff?

Passive income is money earned even when we are not working on it while active income is money earned through exchanging it with time. All of us have jobs to earn money for our daily living. We use time to exchange it with money. It may be 8 hours or 10 hours a day. While passive income also requires time to build, the time spent is not fixed to certain hours and more often than not, the time spent to create passive income should be much lesser than active income.

Passive income can come from dividends from stocks, rental income from property, online marketing etc. I've seen people who actually have more than enough passive income to sustain their lifestyle without depending on their active income. This is achievable but what does it take to achieve it? Let's look at dividends from stocks as a form of passive income first.

Dividends from stocks as passive income

One of the most common form of passive income is dividends from stocks. There are people who are already getting a few thousand dollars from dividends every single month on average. This is like getting a salary every month without going to work. However, when we look at their stocks portfolio, it is often at least $500K or more.

A $500K stocks portfolio with 5% dividend yield will generate $2083 in dividends per month. This most likely will not be enough for a family to get by, so to depend wholly on dividends to sustain our lifestyle, we will need a $1 Million stocks portfolio. This is the reality which we need to accept and then we can work towards this target step by step.

Rental from properties as passive income

The next common form of passive income is rental income from properties. In the past, people who bought properties at a low price and rent it out are earning good passive income from their properties now. Because of the low price back then, those who bought good properties will most likely get quite a good positive cashflow even after paying their property loans.

If you've read the book "Rich Dad Poor Dad", you'll learnt that properties need to generate positive cashflow for it to be a good asset. Assets put money in our pocket while liabilities take money out of our pocket. Nowadays, its getting harder to generate positive cashflow from properties in Singapore as price is high and rental is not as good anymore. Also, with multiple government cooling measures, it makes it even more difficult to invest in good properties now. Yes, we can still earn money from renting out properties but the yield may only be a low of 3%-5% per year.

How to start creating passive income?

Focus on active income and saving more first

We need capital to create passive income, the more the better. with $10,000, there is only so much passive income you can create out of it but with $100,000 or $500,000, the passive income we can create is much greater.

Building active income requires time and effort but the more we earn and save, the faster we can create more passive income for our future. Active income will always be lower at the start of our working life and only increases as we get more experience and upgrade our skills. I'm in my 3rd job now and have made a conscious effort to plan and upgrade my skills in order to earn higher income.

Start small in building passive income

We have to start somewhere in building passive income no matter how small it is. Even when I just had $10,000 savings, I started investing in stocks. The dividends I get is probably only less than $50 a month back then. Starting small is important as we will make mistakes and earn along the way. Its better to make small mistakes at the start, losing a bit of money, than losing a lot of money when we start investing only when we have more money.

Back then, losing a few thousand dollars in the stock market seems like a lot of money to me when my savings were little. It forced me to learn the hard way and get better in investments. Thinking back, if I had started investing when I had more money now, my losses could have been tens of thousands.

Make the passive income sustainable

The key to building passive income is making it sustainable. This can only be done over the years by building a strong foundation. Finding the right stocks to invest in which has sustainable dividends is important. This requires some research and monitoring to be done. For example, when investing in REITs, we have to look at the location of properties it has, the industry it is in, the dividends track record, the rental reversion and many more. All these will help us determine if the dividends given out will be sustainable.

Even for investing in properties, if we bought the property at a bad location, we may not even get enough rental income to cover the loans we have to pay. It requires some homework to do the math and get our sums right before investing in it.

Creating Passive Income Instead of Active Income - How Easy It Is?

Creating passive income takes many years to build. It may take 10 years, 20 years or even 30 years to create passive income which can sustain our lifestyle indefinitely. We can start small, work towards a goal and see it happen before our eyes in the years to come.

After years of increasing my active income, I've made myself more busy and I realised time is always not enough if I continue creating active income. There is a limit to how much active income I can create or increase. Even with a higher salary, it often comes with more work and many more hours spent on the work itself. With this, I would be shifting my focus more towards creating passive income again for next year.

Its not a difficult task to create passive income but it definitely takes patience and sone work to see it being fulfilled.

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Saturday, December 8, 2018

Weekend Video Sharing - Dr. Bruce Lipton Explains HOW WE ARE PROGRAMMED AT BIRTH

Poor people stay poor and rich people stay rich. Is this true? This video explains how our minds are programmed at birth before the age of 7 and how we can change this even in our adult life. A short 5 min video to inspire you for the weekend. Watch it below:

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Monday, December 3, 2018

Singapore Savings Bond Interest has Hit above 2%

Good news for those who are seeking to get higher interest on their savings. Singapore savings bond is now at 2.01% for first year and continues to increase thereafter. Here's the interest payment schedule for the December SSB at a glance:

Singapore savings bond is a capital guaranteed plan and there is flexibility to sell the bond every month where you will get back your capital and any accrued interest. There is no price movement for SSB so you will definitely not lose any money for this. Just take it as a savings account with good interest and no risk. 

Application will open on 3rd December 6pm and close on 26 December 9pm. Applications can be done on ibanking or ATM machines of DBS/POSB, OCBC AND UOB. 

I may be getting some of this bond this round. The last time I bought the bond the interest was only 1.55% earlier this year. How fast the interest has moved up since then. 

You can refer to this link for more information on this month's bond. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Case Study on DBS (SGX: D05) - Using ShareInvestor

Established on 16th July 1968 by the Government of Singapore to take over the industrial financing activities from the Economic Development Board, DBS Group Holdings Ltd is a now multinational banking and financial services corporation. DBS acquired POSB Bank on 16th November 1998 and currently have multiple branches all over Singapore. DBS Bank is the largest bank in South East Asia by assets and among the larger banks in Asia, with total assets of S$482 billion as at 31st Dec 2016.

DBS have strong market positioning in consumer banking, treasury and markets, asset management, securities brokerage, equity and debt fund-raising in Singapore and Hong Kong. Its largest and controlling shareholder is Temasek Holdings. DBS received Global Finance's "Safest Bank in Asia" accolade for six consecutive years, from 2009 to 2015 and was also awarded the Best Digital Bank in the World in the year 2016 by Euromoney. With operations in 17 markets, the bank has a regional network spanning more than 250 branches and over 1,100 ATMs across 50 cities.

DBS recently reported a quarterly profit slightly below estimates on Monday (Nov 5), expressing worries due to trade war and property cooling measure that might lead to hold back on its loan book growth next year. With the intensifying tariff dispute between China and the United States impacting Singapore’s export-reliant economy, and implementation of new measure, outlook for bank are clouded after reporting their profit last year.

DBS reported net profit came in at S$1.41 billion in the three months ended September as compared to S$822 million a year earlier. 

DBS having 31 per cent share of the Singaporean housing loan market mention that the slowdown in new mortgages due to recent cooling measures is bigger than expected. Before the latest round of measures were introduced this year, DBS is expected to grow its mortgage book by around S$4 billion in 2018. However, the lender revised it to S$3.5 billion and now expects about S$2.5 billion after implementation of the cooling measures.

Let’s look at how DBS is scoring based on ShareInvestor’s grid:

DBS shares fell 2.6 per cent in afternoon trade after the result release, on track for their biggest single-day percentage fall in nearly three months.

In terms of price movement, although there is a huge decline in its year on year high but there is a strong support for its incremental year on year low. 

Reviewing historical CAGR data, the company is also showing positive performances across the ups and downs of both business and market cycles. 

However, considering that CAGR does not reveal growth volatility, we can look at forward estimates to have a sensing of the pace of growth and momentum that can be carried into future years. 

With strong estimates put forth by the analysts based on growth forecast, four analysts from research houses maintain DBS as BUY and one as Hold in November 2018. 

With its less than estimated profit for Q3, is it still a good stock to include in your portfolio? Leaving you with ShareInvestor’s consensus estimates. 

In the ever-changing market, it is essential to equip yourself with the right tool. Sign up for a FREE trial to experience the dynamic platform that provides data and information to make better investment decision. Sign up for your 9 days trial here.

ShareInvestor is a financial platform that provides market data information for multiple markets to both institutional and retail investors across its online toolsets, ShareInvestor Station™, ShareInvestor WebPro™ and ShareInvestor Mobile.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by ShareInvestor  

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Class Divide In Singapore - Does Having More Money Makes Us More High Class?

Many of us would have seen a video by Channel news Asia about a few students from different backgrounds voicing out their views on class divide issues in Singapore. This video went viral and was debated widely even by Ministers.

The class divide - Education tracks & Money

Besides the different education tracks which cause class divides (eg express, normal academic, normal technical stream), another apparent issue which emerged out is the class divide regarding money. I was surprised that kids as young as 10 years old are comparing who has the more expensive school bags and pencil boxes with their classmates.

You can watch a snippet of the video below:

"If you've the most expensive things, you're the most popular also". This was commented by a young primary school girl. The class difference only gets worse and worse as students are divided into different streams in secondary school and it even continues in adult working life. 

Our society has gotten use to this kind of segregating people in life. In schools, the better students are put into special or express streams while the weaker ones are put into normal academic and normal technical streams. This makes the students who are in the normal streams feel less inferior to their peers in the express and special stream while the express stream people tend to look down on the normal stream people too. 

Then, as we proceed to the higher education level, there are some people who get into Junior college,  some into Polytechnic and some to the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). Thereafter, some proceed to local university such as NUS, NTU and some choose to go private universities. The difference is again apparent as even employers sees the degrees differently. 

It doesn't stop here. In the workplace, we continue to segregate people into different class through the management associate program where it is a fast track program for employees to advance their career faster. People in this program tend to be treated differently at workplace and also get promotion up to twice as fast as another employee who is not in this program. The starting salary and future salary adjustments may be different too. 

The above are just some of the examples of how we as a society contribute to class divide unknowingly. While in this society nothing is fair, those who make misinformed choices in life at an early stage will inevitably lag behind in life.

How would you describe the expectations your parents have of you?

In the video, it is apparent that those who end up in the normal stream have thoughts which are different from the students in the express or even integrated program. Parents of these students have different expectations of them too which is quite distinctive. 

For students of integrated program, their parents expect them to pursue education such as law. They also expect them to get at least an A for their exams. 

For students in the normal stream, when asked what's their parents expectation of them, they say they just expect them to just pass. They don't expect very high grades

Does Having More Money Makes Us More High Class? 

In the same full 48 mins video about class divide, it goes on to discuss on how higher class people look down on people such as security guards, cleaners and so on. A condominium security guard who was interviewed said he has been shouted at by residents and called names such as stupid security guard. This shows the great disrespect these people have and think they are high class living in a luxurious condominium. 

You can watch the full video here

Ultimately, I always believe that having more money does not make us a bad person but it amplifies whatever character we have no matter if we are poor or rich. Having more money does make us feel better about ourselves especially when our income power increases. But, we should always remember not to look down or show disrespect for those who are worse off in life. At the end of life, we are actually only just a normal human being no matter which social class we belong to. 

Some of us may have made misinformed choices when we were younger and regretted the choices we made back then such as not studying harder and in the end didn't manage to get a good job to earn higher income. In any case, there are people who still manage to become successful even though they came from a lower class background. With some knowledge of financial planning, it helps along the way to become more financially secure for our lives. 

Feel free to join in an AMA session which I have on DBS NAV website. Just ask any questions you have at this link on any issues or topics, no restriction. You can help answer some questions too in the community. 

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Monday, October 29, 2018

Working harder for higher pay in new job and another AMA session this time with DBS

How time flies, I've been in my new job for more than a month now. To be honest, it was a struggle getting used to new work environment as well as different job scope again and time just flew past in an instance. In fact, I was shock when I look at the date today and realised that I've been busy working without much rest for the past 1 month plus.

This is my 3rd job now and every change of job, the work somehow becomes tougher. Of course, the pay is higher as well and with ever career move, more responsibilities comes with the higher pay. I had some catch up with my ex colleagues as well as some friends recently and everyone feels the same way. At least I'm not alone in this.

A few years ago, I set my goals to aim for higher income. When goals are set, somehow we work towards it and it becomes a reality. Then, we reflect on the goals we set and think through whether its the right goals for us? While seeking higher income was the right thing to do, there are sacrifices to be made as well. I definitely have lesser time for other things in life and feel totally burnt out on some days. For now, I'm quite used to my new lifestyle already and then the question is what's next?

With higher pay, finances are definitely not so tight anymore. Saving more money also becomes easier even though I spend more. Budgeting becomes less of a hassle as I don't need to count every single cent I spend anymore and still manage to save some money every month.

Throughout the past 5 years since I started this blog, I've explored various ways to optimise savings, increase income, learn about insurance, housing, CPF and also invest my money. There are hits and misses in everything that I've learnt and tried and I share this on my blog as much as I can. I started out learning from other peoples' blogs as well and through this got to know quite a few like minded friends in the community.

In recent times, Ask Me Anything (AMA) session has been getting popular. I'm doing one of the sessions on DBS NAV platform this time. You get to ask any questions you have and I will answer them on 7th Nov 8pm-9pm. Click on the image below and start asking your questions anytime from today.

There are many other questions that has been asked on the DBS NAV platform where we can learn from others as well. Check it out here today!

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Sunday, October 21, 2018

New Temasek 2.7% bond for retail investors - Should you invest in it?

It has been awhile since I blog as I've been quite busy with my new job as well as other things in life. I didn't really have much time to look at investments lately and have not made any new investment decisions for the past 1 month. However, there are new developments in the investment world which I thought is a good time for me to write about this new bond in the market which will surely be quite popular.

Temasek has just launched a new bond which offers 2.7% fixed interest and matures in 5 years. This is fairly attractive as Temasek is known to be rated AAA where the default risk is low. When buying bonds, it is always important to evaluate the risk even though in this case the risk is low. I will evaluate who can consider and who should not be buying this bond in this article.
Who can consider to buy this bond?

This bond is guaranteed by Temasek which in a way we can safely say it is default free. Just imagine if Temasek is not able to pay back the bond when it matures, then I think Singapore as a nation is also suffering a lot by that time so it is very unlikely that the bond defaults.

The interest offered is 2.7% which is not too much and not too little also. For those who have lower investment risk appetite and willing to invest in the bond till it matures in 5 years, then I would say you can safely invest in this bond with a peace of mind. Bond price will rise and fall according to market conditions but when it matures, the face value of the bond will be paid back. This means that you will definitely get back your initial invested capital at the end of 5 years (the mature date of this bond) as long as Temasek does not go bankrupt.

Let's say if you invest $20,000 into this bond, you will be able to get $540/year in interest payment and will get back $20,000 at the end of 5 years when it matures. This is good for those who can hold the bond all the way.

Who should not buy this bond?

Even though the risk of default is low for this Temasek bond, for those who are not intending to hold the bond all the way till it matures in 5 years should reconsider before investing in the bond. Bond price rise and fall according to market conditions and bond price and interest rates has an inverse relationship. This means when interest rates goes up in the general economy, bond price will normally fall as well. Temasek has said they only guarantee the interest rate and not the price of the bond.

Interest rates has been rising and I would think will continue going up. For those of us who can't hold the bond till the end of 5 years, its not a very wise choice to invest in bonds now. When the bond price drop and we need the money, we will most likely have to sell it as a lower price resulting in a loss. This is not what we want.

How it is different from the Singapore savings bond (SSB)?

I think there is some confusion on the Singapore savings bond which I will address this as well. What exactly is the difference between the SSB and the new Temasek Bond?

While both the SSB and the Temasek bond offers guaranteed fixed interest rates, Temasek's bond price are not guaranteed while the SSB price is guaranteed. We can sell the Temasek bond anytime but the price may be lower than when we first invested in it and therefore we suffer a loss while for the SSB, we can sell it every month and we will always get back the initial capital which we invested in. In essence, the price of the Temasek bond will change while the price of the SSB will not change at all.

For those who are looking at shorter term low risk investment of less than 5 years, the SSB is still a good choice to consider. This months SSB has interest of 1.80% for first year and 1.94% for second year. It still offers quite good interest for zero risk investment. You can refer to SSB rates here.

For the new Temasek bond, you can find out more about it here. The offer has already started and will end on Tue 23 Oct 2018. You can apply through ATM, internet banking or through mobile apps of certain banks.

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

My 3 days on Genting Dream Cruise - All inclusive Dream Palace Suite experience

I took the opportunity to go on a cruise with my family. This was my first cruise experience and it was on the Genting Dream Cruise. Many of you may have went on Star Cruise before which is also by the Genting group. Dream cruise is the new addition to their cruise fleet.

Dream cruise has the all inclusive dream palace suite experience. I booked the Palace deluxe suite and was entitled to the special suite experience which includes 24 hour butler service, exclusive dining at speciality restaurants, premium beverage package and even wifi was provided. Dream palace is a ship within a ship concept where palace suite guests have access to this private area which includes lounges, private pool area, spa and the exclusive palace restaurant. 

The check in was fast at marina bay cruise terminal even though there were many people. Dream palace guests had priority check in and boarding and also a lounge area to enjoy while waiting for boarding. I didn't get to go to the lounge as I was able to board the ship immediately after check in. 

The ship is huge measuring 300m+ in length with 19 decks in total (although there was no deck 4 and 14 because of bad luck reasons)

We found our suite at deck 9. It is made up of a separate living room and bedroom with a huge toilet and a small balcony. 

Living room


Toilet is huge with shower area and bath tub


Shower area with spa facilities
There is a phone to call the butler to make reservations for restaurants or any other requests

Nescafe coffee machine with capsules provided

First day mini bar for enjoyment. There are drinks in the fridge too free for consumption including 2 bottles of beer
Everything in the suite was luxurious and of good quality. There was even TWG tea provided. The bathroom was so big its even bigger than most hotel rooms bathroom.

Dinner was provided on the first day even though the ship will only set sail at 9pm. We boarded the ship at around 430pm and booked the silk road restaurant immediately with the butler. Silk road restaurant is a Chinese fine dining restaurant which serves very quality and delicious food.

Palace guests get to redeem a complimentary set menu. It is a 6 course menu with drinks such as red and white wine included.
Set menu for palace guests at silk road restaurant
The fine dining setting at silk road restaurant. Vibrant red colour with comfortable cushion seat at every table

Soup of the day

Sauteed Tiger Prawns with Soya Sauce

Roasted Pork Belly with Jelly Fish - The pork belly was so succulent and tasty, the skin was super crispy

Poached Chicken with onion oil and soya sauce

Braised abalone, shrimp roe and mushroom

Dessert - White fungus with Hashima
After dinner, I went to walk around the huge cruise and took some pictures.

Boutique area in the ship

Zouk club within the ship itself

Outdoor movie theatre at Zouk Beach Club

Main outdoor pool area

View of Marina bay area from room balcony
Every night, there will be performances shown at their 1000 seater Zodiac theatre. For the first night, the performance is a Latin dance.

Waiting for the show to start. Palace guests had priority front row seats which are specially reserved for every performance

If you like dance performance, this is not a bad one though it got boring after awhile as its a 45 mins dance performance.

After the performance, I went to the dream palace area and saw this brochure. There was supper provided at the Palace restaurant and also afternoon high tea. Other passengers do also have high tea served in the morning and afternoon also but no supper is provided.

Supper at Palace restaurant

After supper, went to ordered some drinks which is included in the premium beverage package for suites guests. Ordered one Old fashioned and Negroni drink. Old fashioned was good while Negroni was not to my liking

Ordered additional margarita to try
Went back to the room thereafter to rest. That's the end of the first day.

On the second day, the ship was docked near to Bintan island. Those who do not want to stay on the ship can choose to go on the island for other activities. My family and I wanted to fully experience the ship so we did not disembark.

This was the view from the balcony inside the suite room when I woke up:

For today's breakfast, I chose to dine at Mark Best Bistro which is a celebrity restaurant helm by celebrity chef Mark Best himself. The breakfast venue was provided to Palace guest as an alternative to the Palace restaurant.

At 8am, the restaurant was quite empty. Its actually a very high class restaurant with superb service.

The buffet spread was quite decent, not the ordinary buffet which I had before. There were chefs who whip up made to order eggs in this restaurant itself.

Different selection of cheese and smoked salmon

Bread station

Open concept kitchen

After breakfast, we went to the main pool deck area for swimming and I wanted to try the slides, which was the main attraction on this ship. There are 5 levels of slide, each with a higher intensity. It was quite fun actually. I've not done this for many years already.

After that, I went to the Palace private pool deck where we soaked in the sea salt Jacuzzi, swam in the private pool and used the steam room. Time pass so fast when you're relaxing, the whole morning was spent at the pool area and soon it was time for lunch.

Lunch was at the Palace restaurant. It was buffet again. The spread was quite good I would say with large delicious prawns and lamb shank. The sashimi provided was very fresh as well.

Entrance leading to The Palace

Cold dishes

Dedicated kitchen for the Palace restaurant

Good buffet spread

First of the many plates of lunch I ate
At the Palace restaurant, you can see even the utensils were crafted so nicely. The fork and knife had golden and silver coloured patterns on it like what was used in the Palace in the olden days.

After lunch, I went to explore the ship again. By this time around 2pm in the afternoon, the main pool deck was filled with people enjoying the afternoon swim.

There was a bridge viewing room where we can see the ship captains doing their job.

Ship captains in the bridge control room

Time pass quite fast while on the ship. There was lots of walking because the ship is so huge. There was tea break provided at The Lido, which is the buffet area where all guests can enjoy their meals. Tea break is provided at 10am and 3:30pm each day. I took the opportunity to take a look at The Lido during their afternoon tea break.

The dining place was huge with lots of seating area with good views of the sea. If you're hungry, the food definitely will fill your stomach so there's nothing to worry about being hungry on this ship.

Lots of people came for the afternoon tea break

Some buns and bread


Some traditional cakes

Main pool area again
I decided to forgo the tea break at Lido and went to the Palace lounge for high tea instead. You might be wondering how different it is? Let the picture do the talking.

High tea provided at the Palace lounge
The portion although small, but is of better quality. Its just enough for us as we had a rather heavy lunch. It was much more quieter and comfortable in the lounge as well

After tea break, I decided to get some exercise at the gym. Good equipment and good views of the sea as well.

Soon, its dinner time again. Before dinner, I did get some rest in the room before coming for dinner. Was just too tired walking around the whole day.

Dinner was at Mark Best Restaurant. For dinner, they provide a 4 course fine dining meal for Palace guest to enjoy. It was the best meal I had on this ship. Luxurious was at its best here.

Set menu provided complimentary for Palace guests

Other stuff which can be ordered

Some bread

Selection of cold cuts as appetizer

Roast pumpkin soup

Grilled Australian Wagyu Steak

Black Cod

My steak with red wine 

Dessert - Vanilla Panacotta
The dinner here was great. Every dish was made to perfection. I even saw celebrity chef Mark Best himself in the restaurant. No wonder the food was of such high quality.

In the evening, there are 2 shows being lined up. One is China's got talent and the other is their exclusive show, Voyage of a lovers dream.

The show was acted out but the people performing are actually the actual ones who went up to participate in the program some time back. Their skills are really amazing.

Next up is voyage of a lovers dream:

The story is beautiful with nice touching music. The pictures can't really show how good the show is. If you're on the cruise next time, be sure to catch this voyage of a lover's dream show.

The night is still young on the cruise. As its the last night, we didn't want to sleep too early so continued walking around and there was party everywhere, even for kids.

Zouk beach club had party for kids

Zouk club on the cruise was blasting with live music

We went for supper and more drinks, taking full advantage of the inclusive premium beverage package. Ordered Johnny walker red and more cocktails. It was midnight before we knew it and we were tired from the whole day of activities.

The next morning, the cruise was on the way back to Singapore, scheduled to reach at 10am.

The view from the balcony in the morning

Breakfast again at Mark Best Bistro

Last breakfast for this cruise

The cruise docking at Marina Bay Cruise centre

View of marina bay area from the cruise

That's the end of the short 3 day 2 nights cruise. The palace suite experience was great, being treated like VIPs for the 3 days and having suites own private pool and restaurant was a plus point. Being on a cruise is quite different from taking a plane and going overseas. I didn't feel like I had travelled overseas actually. The ship was so sturdy that I do not feel any movement at all. Its like being in a mega shopping centre while its moving around.

Will I go on a cruise again? Maybe I will try Royal Caribbean cruise next as I heard quite good stuff about them. A longer cruise with disembarkation to land may be better for a cruise trip as well to have the feeling of travelling overseas.

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