This is part two of our Superstar Virgo Adventure! You can read about our preparations and tips 1 to 9 in Part One HERE
SEAS THE DAY!
The first day is usually for boarding and leaving the port of origin, and in our case it’s the Port of Manila.
10. BOARD FROM MANILA: If you are ever planning to take a cruise, Manila is the best port to join since you don’t have to spend extra on airfare if you are joining say a HongKong, Singapore or Taiwan Cruise and there are also usually fewer passengers. During our cruise there were only around 700 passengers as compared to thousands of passengers if you board from a different port. I heard that when it originates from a Chinese port, the ship is usually near or full capacity, which means more people using the facilities, more lines, and people crowding every restaurant during meal times.
11. AVOID GETTING SEA SICK: I must warn you however, of one caveat, if you are coming from Manila as we would later find out. The Philippine seas can be a bit rough.
Scratch that the seas can be really rough.
You will get dizzy, feel seasick, and dizzy and even vomit
–Again and again.
The second day is usually spent crossing the Philippine seas and you will hear strange noises while you sleep and feel some shaking—don’t panic because all that is normal.
If you decide to join the activities, choose the one that doesn’t require hand-eye movements like table napkin folding or bracelet making because it will make you even dizzier. I’d rather join the Zumba and stretching exercises because those will even make you feel much better.
If you do go around exploring the ship, there are times you’ll find it difficult to balance yourself and that’s when you realize why there are hand railings all over the ship. You will use them and you will “fall” in love with them.
On our first High Seas Voyage, the sea was a lot calmer and I didn’t even need to take Bonamine. So I thought it would be the same.
I should have brought my “Tito Kit” which contained White Flower, Efficascent oil and other essential oils as well as a box of Bonamine during the cruise. If its your first time I suggest you do the same. You can get anti-dizzy pills free at reception and take them every 8 hours.
OR as I discovered on our last day there is actually an anti-sea sickness bracelet you can buy at their duty free store. But you can also buy them from online stores. It uses acupressure points on your wrists to prevent you from getting sea sick. Get one set each for your group just to be safe—or you could always take an seasickness barf bag from the comfort rooms and bring them with you to prevent any “accidents.” I also learned that drinking soda or a glass of apple juice can relieve dizziness.
Its also the reason why strongly advise against wearing high heels for the ladies—trust me its going to be un-lava-walkable at times.
BUT the seas isn’t always as rough, the crew told us, and we were just a bit unlucky. If the sea is indeed calm or you don’t experience any motion sickness…good for you because there’s always something to do onboard.
12. THE STAR NAVIGATOR IS YOUR FRIEND: Every morning be sure to check out the Star Navigator for a schedule of the day’s events, promos and everything else you might want to know about your cruise.
Take advantage of the facilities inside the cruise. Some are FREE and all you need to do is signup in advance or just show up. The Parthenon Pool is free as well as the Gym, library, and the movie screenings. If you want to play some Golf, basketball, videogames or sing some videoke there are extra fees to pay. If you have children with you, you can leave them at the Kid’s Playground.
Take note that there are Duty Free Flash sales and one BIG sale which happens in the afternoon of your last cruising day!
As for our group, in addition to our ship tour, we also had a galley/kitchen tour, and learned how to make sushi! We had the choice to try all the other activities ourselves.
But since me and my partner were too seasick, we decided to spend most of the day in the library and sleeping inside our room. Again the effect is worse if you lack sleep, that’s why I advised you to take a day off and rest before your cruise.
13. YOU WILL BE GOING ON A SEE FOOD DIET: We only came out when it was time to eat, which if you are in a cruise means you can eat up to 6 times a day!
The Superstar Virgo has several dining options, there are three inclusive ones which means you don’t have to pay for breakfast, lunch, dinner, just head on to The Lido, Star Dining and Pavillion.
I suggest you have breakfast at Star Dining where it is less tense and a lot quieter than The Lido. Also, make sure you have breakfast before 8am, otherwise get ready for a long queue just to get inside. We, however, discovered that lunch and dinner is better at The Lido since it’s a buffet and you can get more servings.
Other restaurants where you can eat include Blue Lagoon, Palazzo, Silk Road, The Taj, Cafe Gelato, Galaxy of the Stars, Coffee Nook, and Samurai. We were able to try the Teppanyaki at Samurai and it was the best meal we had on the cruise. If you are trying it out, make sure to request for chef Justin Bieber—he is hilarious as he is talented in preparing your meal. And since the food is cooked right in front of you everything is hot and fresh!
14. INTO THE SPIDERVERSE: In addition to special guests (in our case was the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra, there was also a cruise with Sandy Daza and Bro. Bo Sanchez) SS Virgo also has a special theme for kids. In our case it was “Spider-Man into the Spiderverse.”
Kids can join the Scavenger Hunt and if they are the first to complete different tasks around the ship to collect hints and clues they can win a limited edition of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Combo Premium Set, which includes a drawstring bag, earphone, phone ring holder, stationery set and more
There are also meet & greet with the Spider-Verse Heroes, party time with Spider-Man where you can have your face painted and dress up in your Spider-Man costumes; and a Superhero Training Fitness Challenge; follow the guidance and training of Peter Parker, the mentor of Miles Morales, and unlock the hero inside you through different challenges, including Spider Maze, web slinging, and fitness exercises.
By the third day, the seas were a lot calmer and we were all excited to reach our first destination—HaLong Bay Vietnam. It was a cold and rainy day with temperatures at 14 degrees, its not freezing but if you didn’t bring a jacket…well you really need to find one before you disembark for the Shore Excursion. IF its raining, they will provide you with raincoats/ponchos to keep you dry. If you have an umbrella, this is the time to whip it out.
15. TO DIY or NOT TO DIY: You can either DIY your Shore Ex or join one of the SuperStar Virgo package tours. If you are travelling with your parents or with kids I would advise you just join the SSVirgo Prebooked tours. It’s a lot easier, safer, and more time efficient. The last thing you want is having somebody getting lost and returning late to the ship. There’s a penalty if you arrive past boarding time, plus a risk of being left behind and you don’t want that to happen.
But if you are with a group of friends, feeling adventurous or you’ve been to these places already, you can DIY your Shore Excursions so you can see more and manage your own time.
Before disembarking, make sure you have exchanged local currency (if you are planning to buy from local stores that do not accept credit card). Also bring your access card and a copy of your passport. Fill out necessary forms required by the immigration of the destination country.
If you have no idea about the weather, ask the crew so you can dress appropriately. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes and again make sure they aren’t slippery.
DO NOT RELY ON YOUR SMARTPHONE’S TIME. If its on auto setting, your phone will
automatically adjust depending on your timezone. Take note of the time difference of
the destination country and the ship’s time and always follow SHIP time when returning
from your Shore Excursion.
16. HAGGLE NOT JUST A LITTLE BIT: Vietnam was the very first country I visited, but it was in Hanoi and I wasn’t able to visit the famous Halong Bay.
Learning that it was the location of the movie KONG: Skull Island made me more excited and the emerald green water and the rock formations were unreal. If it wasn’t raining I would have gone out of the boat to take even more photos so instead I bought a liniment and got a free massage from one of the boat staff.
The other two locations we visited were shopping destinations, the “Night” Market is a great place to buy souvenirs like keychains, ref magnets and other unique crafts. There are also a lot of class A luxury bags which you can get cheap if you know how to haggle. Don’t be afraid to haggle as these sellers will never give it to you if they wont make a profit. I usually ask if I could get it for 30% of the original price, and if they frown just thank them and walk away. If your arrive early they will likely chase you and negotiate just to make their “Buena mano” sale. We got one of those rattan bags originally priced at 750,000 VDong for just 240,000Vdong, and I still think I could have gotten it for 200k.
As for the VINCOM Mall I don’t think you can haggle since it’s a department store. You can buy some groceries there and try authentic Vietnamese Coffee.
Honestly, our Shore Ex was a bit too short, because our guide was kinda rushing everything and we got back to the ship a way too early and even had to wait until they allowed us to board.
WE’RE HERE, SANYA?
The next day we were greeted by the bulbous buildings of Phoenix Island a landmark of the Port of Sanya, China. In true Chinese fashion we were greeted by a dragon dance and performers dancing what looked like their version of tinikling.
The Port of Sanya was a truly impressive structure, from the spiral staircase that attached to the SS Virgo to their spacious embarkation area. The weather was bright and sunny which also meant it was going to be a bit hotter.
It took us more than an hour to reach our first stop–the Nanshan Cultural Tourism Zone. Again it was nothing like anything I’ve seen before, the area was HUGE though I don’t think there is really much to do besides walk and take photos. According to the brochure, it is a rare, large-scale eco-cultural tourism zone themed around Buddhist culture, ecological culture, and “longevity culture.” It’s China’s biggest Buddhism-themed tourism zone and it was the country’s first listed 5A attraction. It features a temple (Nanshan Temple) and a 108-meter Nanshan South-Sea Kwan-yin Bodhisattva Statue, which is regarded as a state-level treasure. We rode a tram up to the hotel/dining area where we had lunch. Unfortunately, the statue was quite far and we decided not to go back to take closer photos.
Next was a local product shop which sold almost souvenirs, snacks and almost every kind of coconut product you can imagine– coffee, biscuit, candy, sugar, oil etc.
17. FORGET THE SUMMER MALL GO TO THE BEACH! Our final stop in Sanya was the Summer Mall. Now if you are ever going to Sanya, I suggest you skip this Mall, unless you are dying for a cup of Starbucks and head over to the nearby beach instead. Which we FORGOT TO DO! WE just spent an hour at the Summer Mall which isn’t really impressive and there’s really not a lot of unique items to buy. I wished we had gone to the beach which if I’m correct was the location of the final scenes of the movie THE MEG where a giant shark attacked the swimmers.
Yup it was definitely a facepalm moment especially when we saw our companions coming back to our bus from the beach with some pretty contrasting descriptions.
Sayang ang Sanya.
DON’T PANIC ITS NOT THE TITANIC!
If our first day in the open seas was rough, our trip back was even more turbulent and I could only describe our last night as tempestuous.
It was our Gala Night and farewell Dinner of sorts, and the captain, who we met earlier at the bridge tour even joined us at Star Dining. The menu was exquisite and deserving of the requisite formal outfits, and I think I was the most underdressed among our group.
18. LET’S MAKE RESERVATIONS FOR TWO: But no matter how good you look, or who you THINK you were, you can’t just join the dinner if you have no reservations. So my last tip is to make sure you have reservations for the Gala dinner because each table is booked and reserved and in our case even labeled. So unless you want to play pretend that you are part of the Orchestra just because you can toot your own horn and make a scene, make sure you book reservations not only for the Gala dinner but also for all the other activities you plan on joining.
Back to the Gala dinner, like I said the food was delicious. There was lobster, there was salmon, there was steak, and there were also a lot of glasses and plates tinkling and jingling and people losing their balance and losing face. So yes the food was great but the challenge was to try and keep it all in until dessert. I honestly couldn’t finish my meal and we had to go back to our rooms.
OH MY GODDESS: Even though I was still a bit dizzy I went out of our room at around 10 pm. As I wanted to get good seats to what is perhaps my most anticipated show of the entire cruise—Goddess. The Adults Only show and the only one which isn’t free. During our first cruise I was very intrigued as to why it was labeled as such. Some of the costumes in the other shows weren’t exactly PG and were already a bit risqué for me, but this one was Adults only and you even had to pay. Sadly, I missed out. So when we boarded SS Virgo again I promised myself I was going to watch it even if I was the only one in our group.
Talk about excited. I was 45 minutes early.
Smartphones and cameras weren’t allowed inside, understandably for the protection of the performers. I asked the usher lady what I could expect from the show as I handed her my ticket, to which she answered that it was going to be a topless show but nothing vulgar or shocking. It was going to be artistic she said. And she was right.
The show was good but nothing extraordinary, but if you were to ask me if it was worth the ticket price? I’d definitely say yes but it’s definitely the men who will enjoy it more. Just consider the ticket price a tip to all those hardworking talents who have made your evenings those shaky, rocky nights bearable enough to give you sweet dreams.
SHAKY, SALTY AND BITTERSWEET
If you have luggage to check in again, make sure you read the letter and attach the tags. You need to prepare your luggage and leave them outside your cabin for collection (usually between 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM). Don’t forget to separate the clothes you are going to wear the following morning!
Head to the Reception Area at the Grand Piazza DECK 7 to settle your outstanding bills. If you are sharing room with a friend, you have to be there together so you can compute for each other’s purchases and settle your bill accordingly. You can then proceed to your assigned Deck to retrieve your passport.
So after five days of being surrounded by water, navigating the rough seas, trying to fight (and losing to) the dizziness and seasickness, and shaky nights, will I still go on a cruise?
Yes, because it’s an experience of a lifetime.
Just follow the tips I gave you, especially the ways to avoid seasickness, be open and adventurous and go around the ship. Remember that its up to you to make your experience as pleasant or as boring as you’d like.
On a more sober note, we just learned that the SuperStar Virgo is actually nearing its final voyages as it will be docked this year to undergo massive changes. It’s a bittersweet farewell to a grand vessel who fulfilled the dreams and helped millions check off an item on their bucket list.
Check these awesome themed cruise by SuperStar Virgo before its final sail!
Festive Cooking Cruise with Celebrity Chef Sandy Daza
Departure date: December 14 to 19, 2018
Destinations: Ho Chi Minh and Nha Trang, Vietnam
Celebrity Chef Sandy Daza, also known as host of TV shows’ FootPrints and Casa Daza, will host cooking demonstrations on how to perfect his most-loved signature dishes perfect for the coming holiday festivities. As a toting dad of four young adults, Chef Daza will also share his personal tips and experiences on how best to bond with children, especially if it’s over the love for food and cooking, all the while cruising through the wondrous country of Vietnam.
Vacation at Sea with Bro. Bo Sanchez
Departure date: December 19 to 24, 2018
Destinations: Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trang, Vietnam
Presented in partnership with Executive Resources, Inc., world-renowned best-selling author, entrepreneur, and preacher, Bo Sanchez will bring a unique flavour to this holiday sailing to Vietnam with inspirational sessions aimed to bring out the best you during the most wonderful time of the year. Guests onboard will also be treated to special daily masses mirroring the Filipino Simbang Gabi tradition scheduled throughout the cruise.
Grand Finale Cruise
Departure date: January 3, 2019
Coron, Puerto Princesa, Kota Kinabalu
Vacationers can also choose to embark from Manila to explore amazing tropical destinations with SuperStar Virgo, with the special 5-Night Coron / Puerto Princesa / Kota Kinabalu grand finale cruise with a single departure on 3 January 2019 to commemorate the completion of her seasonal deployment in the Philippines early next year.
Check out the SuperStar Virgo Hot Deals nnd Promos:
Book your holiday cruise through any local travel agency or visit http://bit.ly/SuperStarVirgoinManila. For inquiries, call (02) 836-6080
Have you been on a cruise? How was it? Are you planning on going on one soon? I would love to read your comments!