Under a thick blanket of clouds, the sun went down in Singapore without even bidding goodbye. Lights started to flicker on the topside of our cruise ship, illuminating the wooden deck and making the central pool glow. We leaned on the railings several storeys up, watching, hypnotized by the frothy waters of Melaka Strait below, waiting for evening to fully settle, waiting for the lands of Malaysia to come into view.
|A SMOOTH CRUISE ALONG THE MELAKA STRAIT|
A smashingly good time with friends isn’t really the picture painted when one talks of a cruise trip. Cruises are often associated with old retirees spending their built up fortunes to travel or rich couples out on a lavish honeymoon. But surprisingly, what we encountered during our cruise from Singapore to Malaysia (and back again), was just that. A smashingly good time with friends.
Straight from a three-hour flight from Manila, we breezed through Singapore’s Changi Airport and was fetched by a van that sent us to the biggest shopping mall in the country, VivoCity. We weren’t about to go shopping though, apparently, Singapore’s Cruise Centre is adjacent to the mall. Some minutes later, after having our passports inspected by immigration officers, we boarded the SuperStar Gemini for a four-day cruise holiday.
|THE STERN SIDE POOL|
|THE MAIN POOL AT THE TOP DECK|
SuperStar Gemini is one Star Cruises’ five cruise ships. I have previously tried their SuperStar Aquarius, on a cruise from Kota Kinabalu to Puerto Princesa and SuperStar Virgo with its Guangzhou to Hong Kong cruise. Indeed, Star Cruises is everywhere in Asia; they’re not rated as the third largest cruise line in the world for nothing.
|STARCRUISES’ SUPERSTAR GEMINI|
Gemini is a medium-sized cruise ship. Along its ten floors, it houses 765 cabins for guests, eleven restaurants, an auditorium, a duty-free shopping center, a videoke lounge, a gaming arcade, casino halls, a daycare center, a gym, spa, saloon, two outdoor saltwater swimming pools and heck, even a basketball court on the topside. It is a moving luxury hotel at high seas.
|TYPICAL LOUNGE BAR AT THE CRUISE SHIP|
|THERE’S A GYM|
|AND A SALOON TOO!|
We were billeted on the ship’s Superior Oceanview Stateroom, which sits right in between their most affordable rooms and their most luxurious ones. The room is a bit tight, as was to be expected with cruise cabins, but yes, it is spaced comfortably enough for two persons.
|WE WERE SET AT THE NINTH FLOOR OF THE SHIP|
|WELCOME TO OUR ROOM!|
Besides the en suite toilet and bath, surprisingly, it manages to hold a couple of closets, a cabinet, a work desk that also functions as a vanity table for the ladies, a shared bedside table, and a mini living area complete with a loveseat, table and chair right beside an almost floor to ceiling window overlooking the sea.
|COMPACT TOILET AND BATH|
Around the two soft beds, the floor is carpeted and the walls are decorated with framed paintings. For those who can’t live without televisions, there is a cable TV with English channels. And for those who can’t live without connecting to the Internet, there is a paid net service onboard at SGD50.00 for unlimited connection for the entire duration of the trip, it does get slow at times, especially when out on the high seas. Everything was more than sufficient for our four-day cruise.
|BUFFET AT DYNASTY RESTAURANT|
So, with our bags unpacked and our bodies rested, what does one do on a cruise ship?
Well, the most obvious, since SuperStar Gemini has eleven restaurants, is to pig out. Four of these restaurants are available for guests to dine in six times everyday. And it’s a buffet every single time. Each one serves a different cuisine; Asian for Mariners, Western for Bella Vista, Chinese for Dynasty and outdoor dinner barbecues for Oceana. I should’ve weighed in before the trip.
|GRILLED DINNER AT OCEANA|
|SINGAPORE LAKSA AT BLUE LAGOON|
While I love eating from one restaurant to the next, like I’ll have bacons at Bella Vista, then head over to Dynasty for dimsums, and then finally Mariners for plates of roti, the best meals I’ve tried were at the Blue Lagoon, one of the restaurants at the top deck of the ship where you pay using your room card key (so don’t ever lose them!).
|MY FAVORITE RESTAURANT, THE BLUE LAGOON|
|MEE GORENG MAMAK PLUS DIMSUMS|
I’ve tried their, of course, mee goreng mamak (SGD13.00), deep fried prawn wonton (SGD7.00) and Singapore laksa (SGD13.00). The servings are massive, definitely good enough for two; and the taste, extremely good and legit to the bone.
|QUEEN OF HEARTS PRODUCTION SHOW|
|KYLA ROCKS THE HOUSE, ERRR, THE SHIP|
|A FILIPINO BAND AT THE OCEANA BAR|
For entertainment, you wouldn’t find it lacking while cruising in between destinations. The cruise shows are held at the Stardust Lounge where a steady stream of shows are held. During our cruise, we saw a magic show, a concert by none other than the Philippine’s R&B pride, Kyla, an extravagant musical play, dance numbers from the crew and a somewhat erotic (gulp!) topless show! Everything was free of charge, except that last one, which costs SGD110.00.
|DOCKING IN MELAKA|
And then there are, of course, the destinations. From this particular cruise, we have two cruise shore excursions in Penang and Langkawi, both in Malaysia. The ship offers different packages for every type of travelers; you can do a sightseeing tour, a shopping jaunt or a mix of both, or you can even go out without any itinerary, which is cheaper since you won’t be paying for anything—provided that you return on time. Tours are priced from SGD45.00.
So, with all the shows done for and all the restaurants dined on, what else can we do while waiting for our destinations? We party!
Although we’ve had our share of party nights around the ship, at the SuperStar Gemini, parties are not only limited to evening times, they also host one even in the middle of the day! And so right beside the outdoor pool, in board shorts and skimpy bikinis, holding cans of buy-one-take-one Tiger beers, we danced to the booming beats of the DJ under a scorching midday sun—hosed wet in the middle of the sea, how cool is that?! Now, who says cruise trips are only for old retirees?
Address: 5/F Star Cruises Centre, 100
Andrews Avenue, Pasay City, Metro Manila
Contact Number: (+63) 836-6830 to 32
Email Address: email@example.com
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~ THIS IS PART OF STARCRUISES MEDIA INVITE FOR SUPERSTAR GEMINI’S
SINGAPORE-MALAYSIA TRIP. OPINIONS & WHAT-NOTS, ALL MINE.