goFerry is a Free application created by a Hong Kong investment company, SINO Dynamic Solutions Limited, but own and operated by a Malaysian travel company called AsiaTravelMart. I will go into why this is important later in this review. The vendor refers to its application as the first iPhone application to allow mobile purchases of ferry tickets between Hong Kong and Macau on one of the three companies: TurboJet, Cotai and New First, which it does.

The steps for purchasing tickets are quite straight forward. They are as follow:

  1. Choose whether you like to purchase a one-way or round trip ticket.
  2. Choose the date of your departure.
  3. Choose the terminal to depart from.
  4. Choose the terminal to arrive at.
  5. Choose the date you like to return, if you're purchasing a round trip ticket.
  6. Next the user is presented with a warning that the "Main Contact" is the only person who will be able to pickup the tickets. I believe the the taxonomy used here should be change to refer to the individual as the person picking up the tickets.
  7. The Main Contact Details form is what the user have to complete next.
  8. In the Main Contact Details form, the developers failed to set the Email field to a email type field, so the user have to keep switching the keyboard of the iPhone to enter the complete email address.
  9. After the personal information of the Main Contact is submitted, the user has to provide payment information, this being the credit card details. On the Payment Details form the user is not asked to enter the type of credit card, presumably the application is determining this by the first 4 digits of the credit card number.
  10. I did not continue to what I believe is the final step, because I did not want to purchase a set of tickets. You can see from the Payment Details form the user is able to accept (default) or reject the Terms of Conditions, but there is no link to see the details of the T&C.

There are no indication that any of these personal and financial information are sent to the goFerry service via a secure channel. There are also strange design decisions in the application. For example, the progress icon and terminal names/details are bi-lingual but the rest of the application are in English. The goFerry.hk website also tries to be multi-lingual, and has the ability to choose among Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese and English versions, but the English version contains mainly Chinese content. When you click on most links in the English version it will redirects to the Chinese version of the site. This is so typical of Hong Kong web developers, another sign of sloppiness and not paying attention to details.

One major issue with the workflow of the application is that it does not protect the user from purchasing ridiculous itinerary like the one I have created in error; note that my return time is before my departure time on the same day. It places the responsibility on the user to ensure the itinerary is accurate. I always believe applications; more to the point application developers, should do as much as possible to assist the end-user. Not including such a simple test is simply lazy on the part of the developers.

There is an issue with the list of available ferries from the search. It is simply a list of departures sorted by departure time in accending order. This is not too convenient for comparing ticket prices and times of departure. There should be a very simple presentation for both of these types of comparisons. Not that Hong Kong/Macau ferry pricing are complicated but it should be done much better.

As the last step in the workflow the application requires the end-user to provide credit card details including the CVV code. Although I was not able to find a Privacy document within the application, the FAQ or the goFerry.hk website. Their Terms of Use also does not mention or explain how the company will use and protect these personal and financial information.

When you take into account of my first paragraph in this article and the above, it becomes even more dangerous for the end-user to use this application to purchase tickets.

Let me explains the issue with SINO Dynamic Solutions Limited and the Malaysian company, AsiaTravelMart, that owns and operates the goFerry services. The website for AsiaTravelMart is not accessible, and any information found on the Internet about AsiaTravelMart are either marketing information or negative reviews.

To make things a bit more suspect, Alexander Kong, the principal behind this application and service, currently has an outstanding bankruptcy case against him, involving SINO Dynamic Solutions Limited and AsiaTravelMart.

Tonight I went to Macau's Venetian Macao, Cotai Strip to watch Canada's Cirque du Soleil's latest permanent show, Zaia. I had always planned to watch the show, but did not get around to buying tickets. A friend of mine had tickets that she could not use, so I bought them. But I was not able to choose the seats.

For Cirque du Soleil shows I normally like to seat about 20 rows from the stage on center, this time my tickets were 2 rows from the stage and off center. Although, I get a real close look at the performers, but it was too close.

Cirque du Soleil shows are designed so that seats near the back of the theater are still good seats, so being too close to the stage is actually a disadvantage. Where I was seating because I was too close to the stage there were actually performance near the back of the stage I cannot see. So if you had not purchase your tickets I suggest you purchase tickets behind row O and center.

Like all Cirque du Soleil shows, you should not be late to this one either. For those who had not been to a Cirque du Soleil show, this is a show geared mostly for adults and there are usually no animals in any of the acts.

The performers' acts are quit different from the typical acrobatics you see at other shows and regular circus. The choreography are carefully designed to lend to the story telling of the whole show and theme. Each movements are planed and calculated, such that even the required movements for safety do not look out of place.

Like with all Cirque du Soleil performances there is always a ring leader and a main character. The ring leader is usually a crown like character that serves to distract the audience when the stage requires reconfiguring.

All of Cirque du Soleil's stages are originally designed with state of the art mechanics, lightings and special effects, the Zaia stage at Venetian is no exception. In the past the stages are designed to be taken down and transported to the next venue thousands of miles away. For a permanent show, they are able to use more movable stages to lend to the transport of scenes, large props and performers throughout the show. This is the first time I've been to a Cirque permanent show; of which there are five in Las Vegas.

Even though I did not have the most ideal seats; in my opinion, it was a show not to be missed. I have seen almost all the Cirque du Soleil shows since 1992 and loved each one of them. There is always a surprise in each show that makes me wanting more. Zaia has that Cirque magic that gives you a happy feeling after the show.

Cirque du Soleil also built the largest trainer center outside of Montreal in Macau. Hopefully this means more travelling shows to come and originate in Asia.

This weekend I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to experience Macau's first "six star" hotel; so they [Crown Macau] claim. I had not heard of Crown hotels in the past. Apparently they have a sister property in Melbourne, Australia. The one in Macau is own and operated by Stanley Ho's eldest son, Lawrence Ho's Melco PBL Entertainment. It is just one of three properties development this company has in progress or plan for Macau.

One can see many of the details that went into designing Crown Macau, like a power outlet in the room safe, to the iHome alarm clock to dock your own iPod do for your music entertainment and alarm clock function.

Unfortunately, there are also many flaws in the design of the hotel; especially for a "self proclaimed" six star hotel.

In the suites; by the way every room in the hotel has a magnificent view of Macau and are junior suites, almost everything in the room are power operated, including the blinds for the see through window to the shower and bath facilities. Strangely enough, the heavy curtains are not power operated, but there was enough thought put in, to ensure the curtains are thick enough so that when they are close, there is really no way of know what time of day it is without the in room clock on the iHome.

The telephone system are all digital supplied by Cisco Systems, again it is strange to find that there are two high tech Cisco IP Phone set in the bedroom area that are approximately 8 feet apart, but no extension in the, "huge", bathroom accept in the separate toilet closet.

With the various power assisted functions, one is always struggling to figure out which switch operates a particular function in the room. Due to the layout of the room many of the switches are situated in strange locations in relation to the functions they operate.

The main bathroom, the Shower/Bath, the bed and lounge areas all have dimmer switches for the light controls, but they do not have off switches. One also have to cycle through each of the levels before reaching the last one which turns off the corresponding lights. Unlike most modern energy conscious hotel rooms there is no one mast switches that turn on or off all the main lights when one enter or leave the room. So, each time one enters and exist a room one has to first figure out which switch is for which and then wait there for the dimmers to cycle either directions.

The TV is also digital, supplied by a company called NxTV or Los Angeles. It has great claims on its web site, but my 4 hours experience is that it only worked 50% of the time. When it does not work, the controls on screen menu just does not respond to any control or when it does it is so slow that it is impossible to choose anything. The problem is that there is no way to get to the regular TV function of the TV without going through the on screen menu.

For the business traveler, you will be happy to know that "broadband" Internet connection (supplied by a local carrier CTM) is free; at least for now. That is fortunate, since the so called "broadband" only achieved 1Mbps or less performance. Which in both Macau and Asian standards is extremely slow, and would not be classified as modern day broadband service. May be that is the reason the service is currently free. In either case, I hope the speed will improve and the price stays the same.

Every elevator I went into, one of the doors on the elevator will have large scratch marks from it scrapping against the sides of the elevator when the door opens and closes. This is only after a month of opening, how could that have happened? Speaking of the elevators, the lighting insides are way too dark and one would always struggle to find button for the floor they need on the panel.

Now for the main attraction of the facility, the casino. It design is quite strange, as it is spread out onto 4 floors unlike most casino where it is usually spread out on one floor. The problem with this design is that if you are the type of player that jump from games to games you will have to traverse different floors to get to your game. In the different occasions that I was in the casino areas, I did not see the same crowds as in other casinos in Macau or elsewhere. This last point may be a plus for players, but definitely not for the house.

[Update: August 26] After writing the above review, I decided to go checkout the pool personally. The pool was situated about the hotel Spa at the 16th floor and occupying both 16th and 18th floor. The design of the pool is one of those infinity pool, but in this case in stead of feeling you are swimming the in blue sea, you feel that you are not swimming in the Macau harbour, which is a fortunate thing, since the harbour's water is very muddy and has a brown colour throughout.

The Change room was well equipped. All I had to do with bring my swimming trunks. When I arrived I was handed a locker key. In the locker I found a fresh towel, comb, hair brush, plastic bag for my wet shorts later and a mess bag for my valuables.

The one thing they seem to have forgotten was to provide benches for you to change on and hooks to temporary hang your clothes while you change. There are also no hangers in the locker or anything else to hang your clothes on.

I am 5'8", which in Hong Kong and Macau is an average height, but they gave me a locker where I can barely reach the top shelf. So I did not bother putting anything there.

The stone tiled floor around (2 sides) the pool was very slippery. When I was there I saw three people slip on the floor and one of them was a kid who fell flat on his face. This is significant, because, including myself there were a total of 9 people who used the pool during the time I was there. I too almost fell.

So in my opinion this hotel was heavily designed, but there are many many areas that needs improvements and fixing.

All in all this is a very nice hotel that does not have enough guess to take advantage of it.