Read Part one Here:
This year, Star Cruises’ SuperStar Virgo makes Manila her homeport from March to May and will be giving Filipinos a Visa-free “Sensational Summer Getaway” to discover the new sides of Japan and Taiwan. Which means this is the perfect time to try it out as you don’t have to fly to another country to join the next scheduled voyage.
Last month we joined the Star Cruises Superstar Virgo High Seas tour. It was a totally different experience than travelling via airplane– its less stressful, you get to enjoy a lot of activities all day, you don’t have to worry about food and your vacation starts the moment you board the ship.
If your parents are seniors or nearing senior citizen status here’s why cruising might just be the perfect summer getaway to spend with them.
We woke up early the next morning to be the first at the breakfast buffet at The Lido. The buffet spread was more than adequate with the usual breakfast items from like rice, a few viand varieties, congee, cereal, sausage, bacon, fruits, breads.
The quality of the food is similar to those you’ve tried in other hotels, but there is enough variety to satisfy what ever your breakfast cravings are.
We headed to the Galaxy of Stars next where there was a scheduled Zumba, exercise class for passengers. If you don’t want to join the other passengers, you can always head over to the gym for your morning routine.
By 9:30am we were again grouped together for the Captain’s Bridge Tour where we got to chat and ask Captain Joakim Vonasek a few questions. The bridge is where the captain, plots our course, steers the ship and basically runs the entire ship. We were looking for the big steering wheel, we often see in those old movies and were a bit surprised (and disappointed) to learn that the steering is done using a very small joystick.
We also learned that the most important equipment weren’t those high tech navigation equipment and computers—but their trusty old coffee maker which keeps all of them awake.
A formal tour of the entire ship followed shortly after lunch and this is where we got to check out all the types of rooms amenities and activities that the SS Virgo can offer.
SHIP TOUR AND AMENITIES:
There are four types of accommodations onboard, from the cheapest to the fanciest: Inside Room, Ocean View Room, Balcony Room, and Suite. Just like in a hotel, our rooms were regularly maintained with new toiletries brought in each day.
Complimentary bottles of water are also replenish every day. But I suggest you still refill your water bottles at the dining areas.
Like I mentioned earlier, as long as you are not claustrophobic the inside rooms are okay as it will save you some money which you can use for other activities.
You are probably going to spend your time mostly outside your room exploring the ship, relaxing at the library or watching movies at the Zodiac theater, exploring other amenities, or taking a dip on the Parthenon pool.
Want to burn all those calories from the buffet area? Head over to the gym where you can find almost every possible equipment you need—treadmills, stair climber, weights etc..–they even have a punching bag if you just want to throw a few punches.
For those who want to try their luck and win some money there’s also a Casino onboard. We weren’t able to go inside but our guide said there are a lot of games you can try from slot machines to different card games.
Shopping may not be your priority, but the special Sale Hours at the Duty Free shops on Decks 7 and 8 might just convince you otherwise. There are stores selling luxury watches, jewelry, perfume, skin care products. The shops on Deck 12 is where you can buy chips, chocolates (with free taste) and other food products, as well as the souvenir store where you can get SS Virgo stuff and toys.
Take note that the currency used aboard SS Virgo is HKD but all your purchases can be charged to your Room and you can settle payment before debarkation.
After our tour, we went around a few the ship to take more photos before deciding to go back to our rooms for siesta, because it was still too hot outside to take a swim.
We went out again at 5pm because it was time for some POOL SIDE BARBEQUE!
The Poolside Barbeque was by far the most delicious and enjoyable meal I’ve had during our entire trip, simply because there were so many choices, you have to return at least twice to try them all!
There was a Japanese station for sushi, maki, a noodles section for ramen, carving station for lechon, grill for steak, sausage, etc.. I think I even saw a pasta station, salad station, dessert bar and a lot of other stuff that I was just too full to even try out. As I later learned there was even a separate dinner just 30 minutes after we finished—which of course we decided to skip again.
By 7pm I had my trunks all ready and was headed to enjoy the hot Jacuzzi. I think most of the passengers were still eating or were headed to dinner, we had the Jacuzzi and the pool all to ourselves.
Learning from our lesson the previous night we were at the Zodiac theater 15 minutes before the show and we got third row seats to the show entitled Mystic Land.
If Vince brought the house down with his magic tricks, Mystic Land was a dazzling display of acrobatic skills and dances. My favorites were the contortionists and the couple of Trapeze artists.
The story was basically about an elf who was chasing a fairy and meeting different creatures of the forests along the way. If you have kids, this is a must see show which they will definitely enjoy.
After the show, the host invited everyone to the Grand Plaza where the crew prepared a special performance for all the passengers. He then introduced the senior members of the crew. I’m not sure if they do it for every voyage, but seeing most of the staff we met dancing was quite a treat for us even some of our fellow passengers joined in the fun. I guess this is the Gala Night that other people often mention with overflowing wine.
There was another for-adults-show back at the Zodiac called “Goddess” but since it wasn’t for free, I decided to skip it (although with a tinge of regret.)
Now for the most important service amenity we ask for the moment we reach a new destination—WIFI
Sadly, since you are in the middle of the ocean, sharing the connection with the hundreds of other passengers on the ship, don’t expect lightning speeds. But its good enough for browsing your social media feed, checking email and watching a few short videos. I think the area with the fastest internet is in the library.
You are only given 1-hour complimentary internet access. So if you need more you need to purchase a plan I think it you have the option to get a day or a access throughout the entire trip, which for us cost around HKD200 —take note you can only use one device.
During out trip we met mostly Asian staff, that is why we were always happy when we meet fellow Filipinos on board. The rest of the crew is warm, friendly, and always willing to help, but not all of them are pretty good in English. So if you find a Filipino, make sure to ask for their name and be extra nice to them.
We packed our bags before hitting the sack, since we were scheduled to arrive early morning and if you have some luggage to check in again they will send you a specific time for pickup.
The ship was docking back in Manila early Monday morning so we were awake and having breakfast by sunrise. By 830 am the ship was docked and we were all ready for debarkation, having mixed feelings of happiness and disappointment that our voyage was too short.
According to recent data, cruise travel is steadily on the rise with a projected 27.2 million passengers expected to set sail in 2018. In 2017, an estimated 25.8 million passengers cruised compared to a confirmed 24.7 million passengers in 2016, representing an increase of 20.5 percent over five years from 2011-2016.
As someone who enjoys the trip more often than the destination, I found cruising even more enjoyable than plane travel especially if you are with your parents.
Unlike taking a plane and having to rush to airports and catch trains, a “seacation” or “Sailcation” allows you to travel at a more leisurely and comfortable pace. And with all the amenities and activities they can do on board, they wouldn’t be bored and revel in all their free time. Plus if you do decide to take them on the Japan and Taiwan voyage, you don’t have to worry about getting a visa for them or prepare an itinerary. All you have to do is sign up for their shore excursions and they can see and enjoy the tourists areas without having to worry about catching the next bus or train back to your hotel or rushing off to go to another attraction.
With Star Cruises’ SuperStar Virgo, the 5-day cruise brings its guests to new destinations in specially-curated themed cruises. The themes starting this summer includes: Basketball Legends High Seas Tour featuring Alvin Patrimonio, Johnny Abarrientos, Benjie Paras, and Jerry Codinera on a Holy Week cruise on March 30; a Labor Day Party Cruise headlined by top Filipino DJs: Patty Tiu and Tom Taus on April 29; and a Mother’s Day Concert Cruise with Daryl Ong on May 9.
For more information, visit www.starcruises.com, call (02) 8366080, or email salesManila@gentingcruiselines.com