Lights blazed from the horizon. Pulsating. Alive. Vibrant. It washed the waters of the channel below in neon and pierced the low soft clouds hovering just above the tallest skyscrapers. I was standing on the top deck of a cruise ship as it slowly pushed its massive hull across the waters of Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor. I took a sip of a Blue Girl beer straight from its bottle and stared at the shimmering skyline.
I was totally mesmerized.
|HONG KONG’S SKYLINE AS SEEN FROM MY ROOM|
It was my first time to travel to Hong Kong and I instantly fell in love with the city that I was forever avoiding. I felt then that it offers nothing that would excite me, I was dead wrong on that account. On board Superstar Virgo, Star Cruises’ biggest cruise ship on their fleet, we flew to China for the inaugural of their Guangzhou to Hong Kong cruise.
|THE SUPERSTAR VIRGO, OUR HOME FOR THREE DAYS|
From Guangzhou's Baiyun International Airport, a bus exclusively for us, picked us up and dropped us off at the district of Nansha where the massive flagship waited for us. It was a breeze checking in from the port where our passports and what-nots got stamped by immigration officers.
|LOUNGE DECK AT SUPERSTAR VIRGO|
|THE GRAND LOBBY IS INDEED, VERY GRAND|
We quickly boarded the Virgo and were instantly impressed by the over-the-top opulence of its main lobby. I have been to a cruise before with Star Cruises Philippines’ Superstar Aquarius as it sailed from Kota Kinabalu to Puerto Princesa the year previous, but this ship is grander by multitudes compared to the former.
A card was handed to us as we completed our check in; it would serve as the key to our respective rooms and as a loadable credit card of sorts for purchases onboard the ship. Very handy.
|A TYPICAL HALLWAY INSIDE THE SHIP|
I was billeted on the ninth floor of the ship, only four floors away from the topmost deck, so I imagine I would have a pretty good view from my room. My jaw dropped when I opened my door. I have my own balcony, ladies and gentlemen.
|OCEANVIEW STATEROOM WITH BALCONY|
|IT HAS ITS OWN EN SUITE TOILET AND BATH|
|MY VERY OWN BALCONY|
The room was very similar to what I had during my previous cruise, two single beds, a couch, flat-screen cable television, mini bar, coffee and tea making facilities and a very compact en suite toilet and bath with hot shower. The only thing missing, really, was a companion to share the room with; it was huge, relative to a normal ship cabin.
|THE PAVILION RESTAURANT|
|THE SAMURAI RESTAURANT|
I roamed the hallways of the ship as we waited to set sail. The Superstar Virgo has a total of 13 floors with an almost 2,000 cabin capacity for guests. It has 15 restaurants and bars, three of those, guests can eat without any fee; the Pavilion, which serves Asian cuisine, the Mediterranean Buffet, with its International dishes and the Western-themed Genting Palace.
|THE ROOF DECK WITH THE PARTHENON POOL|
|JACUZZIS NEAR THE POOL|
|AQUASWIM SPA TREATMENT|
Like most cruise ships, it has the requisite casino, two swimming pools with Jacuzzi, a rooftop bar, a spa, a library, a saloon, an auditorium where nightly shows are held, and a plethora of boutiques to cater to both your souvenirs and luxury wishes.
|STORES ALONG THE SHIP|
The trip from Guangzhou to Hong Kong took the whole night. And while the ship was parting the waters of the Pearl River Delta, we whiled the evening away with entertainment and fine dining.
|EXTRAVAGANT SHOW AT THE LIDO AUDITORIUM|
There were a roster of shows that night but I was only able to see one at The Lido Show Lounge. It has all the glitz and glamour worthy of Las Vegas grand casino performances that I only get to see on movies. It was quite entertaining, but I really wished I’d seen the sultry burlesque show too right after, haha.
|SHE SEEMED VERY POPULAR WITH THE CHINESE CROWD|
After the show, an announcement was made that Star Cruises would be launching a new luxury line of cruises. Dubbed as the Dream Cruises, it would sail across Asia and would have a ship larger than the Virgo. It has everything one could think of when on a luxury liner; including something you may not even thought of, mini submersible ships you can use to explore the depths of the ocean. Coolness!
|BAKED BOSTON LOBSTER AND ISHIGAKI WAGYU SKEWER|
As for the food during our entire trip, there was never any lack of it. We lunched, dined and supped on all of the inclusive restaurants for our ticket and even had a night barbecue at the roof deck of the Virgo right where the main pool is located. The dishes we tried were all quite superb but their delectable lobsters and their melt-in-your-mouth Ishigaki Wagyu steaks really made a lasting impression on me.
|HONG KONG, FINALLY|
The ship docked on Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor lunchtime the next day and we were given five free hours to roam around Kowloon Island on our own. Most went directly to the malls to shop while a few, including me, just went for a stroll.
|AFTERNOON VIEW AT HONG KONG’S VICTORIA HARBOR|
We came back to the Virgo right as the sun was casting its rays in between the buildings of Hong Kong's skyline. Magical as it was, we had to reluctantly tear our eyes away from the scene and board the ship. It was time to go.
|BARBECUE PARTY AT THE ROOF DECK|
A party was held right by the pool deck as we celebrated our last night of the cruise with the glimmering Hong Kong skyline as backdrop. Barbecue grills were set up and so were crates of beer. It was a mad excess of food and alcohol with some of the guests dipping in on the pool in between platters of Western and Asian dishes.
LIGHT BALANCE SHOW AS CAPTURED BY MY FRIEND, CHOI
The party slowed down as guests moved to The Lido Theater once again to watch Britain's Got Talent 2014 finalist, Light Balance. I knew it would be quite a show but I was too caught up by Hong Kong's urban sprawl that was slowly passing before my very eyes.
|EVENING CRUISE ALONG HONG KONG’S VICTORIA HARBOR|
I'm more contented here. At the darkened deck, alone with my bottle of beer, watching the tiny movements along the busy roadways of Hong Kong as we pushed back to China. It’s not everyday that you get to see the whole stretch of Hong Kong Island pass before you and I was enjoying and savoring each and every moment of it as we cruised on.
Star Cruises Philippines
Address: 100 Andrews Avenue, Newport City,
Pasay City, Metro Manila
Contact Number: (02) 836-6830 | (02) 836-6832
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BIG THANKS TO STAR CRUISES PH FOR INVITING ME TO THIS CRUISE