Dear Robin Leach, Cruise Ship Traveling Isn’t Just for the Rich and Groovy Retirees

Notwithstanding sans a honeymoon mate, I walked towards the gigantic ship bootlegging the swag of Mark Renton at the end of Trainspotting. Only this time, I am Ship-spotting. Unflappably sliding my feet over the smooth carpet of the hallway of Harbour Front in Singapore, I silently declaimed my own version of the film’s famous quote. “Choose Cruise Life. Choose Traveling. Choose a big ship to sail. Choose on-board parties, choose an island to explore.” Finding myself separated only by a thick glass and a couple hundred meters of pathway ahead, I stopped on my tracks and laid eyes on the sheer beauty of the docked ship that awaits my first ever cruise ship experience.

The vibe certainly delivers the fervor of choosing life and embracing the good karma unfolding. I was telling myself in disbelief that “I am going cruising” even if I am nowhere near hitting 40 years old. Since my younger years I have always associated this method of traveling with hip retirees and to episodes of the late 80’s TV show; Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, sounding off host Robin Leach’s narration on how one cruise ship trip would cost an arm and a leg for ordinary folks like us. That old school idea about cruise traveling is nevermore.  

Topside Pool Bar
Things have changed mightily since then – as millennial travelers and backpackers like me can now easily afford a three to four night jaunt aboard these fancy ships such as Star Cruises’ Superstar Gemini.

Aboard Superstar Gemini: A Floating Cultural Melting Pot

Rising 10 passenger-accessible decks high and spanning 229.84 meters, the Superstar Gemini can accommodate up to 2,156 guests and 700 crew members. The moment I stepped inside I felt being transported into another realm. A miniscule city popping with a sparkling setting. As the staff ushered us deeper inside into the sprawling casino floor and unto the Stardust theater lounge, I was immediately astonished.

Kyla will perform here tonight” a Filipina ship staff told us. It didn’t took long for me to notice the presence of many Filipinos working aboard the ship. The lady crew I talked briefly; Melanie told me that more than 50% of the ship’s crew are Filipinos. The rest comes from different countries in Asia such as Vietnam, Japan, China, Nepal, India, Indonesia and a lot more. The diverse ethnicity composition of the ship’s workforce is enough to create a cultural melting pot where the guests can easily feel at home at and at the same time learn more about the various aspects of Asian culture.

That colorful Asian culture would come to play during the various parties held at night where Bollywood, Nepalese, Japanese, English and even Tagalog songs are performed by the musical performers and dancers. Even the cuisines served aboard the Superstar Gemini’s 11 bars and restaurants are a representation of the rich culinary culture not only of Asia but the rest of the world.

Travel bloggers looking respectable for the Gala Night
The ship’s other amenities includes; a topside pool for both the adults and kids, a half-basketball court, Jacuzzi, physical fitness and spa centers, duty free shops, hair salon and various charming corners where one can chill and relax. The on-board atmosphere creates a rousing city-like atmosphere where guests can truly enjoy the life on the high seas with endless entertainment and heaps of things-to-do.

Settling in my Superior Oceanview Stateroom

Living a temporary Cruise Life will never be complete without the fancy cabin room. Upon stepping inside my Superior Ocean View State Room, my elevated expectations was even exceeded by the appealing interior that greeted me inside. Ergonomically spread out and designed to provide adequate space for a convenient set of movements, my room is highlighted by the floor to ceiling glass window that afforded a beautiful view of the blue waters of the sea and the Harbour Front hub of Singapore.

Ocean View Stateroom
I stood by the window for a few minutes and stared at the fading skyscrapers of Singapore from the distance and the waters of Melaka Strait ahead. Looking down, I noticed the calmly manner to which our ship was threading the deep waters - like a hot knife cutting through butter, we sailed smoothly. “This is not bad” I told myself. “In fact, it is effing amazing”.

Marky Ramone Go

I sat on the couch near my bed and settled my things. Checking my clock and realizing not even an hour has passed, a burst of excitement shoot up my body. I became giddy with anticipation of the other fun events about to happen on the course of our 4-day cruise ship adventure.

Food-Tripping and the (epic) 10 AM Pool Party

What to do aboard a ship that will sail overnight to its first destination of Penang, Malaysia? It turns out there are oodles of things-to-do and sumptuous cuisines to try on the ship. Our first morning couldn’t have started more festive when a simple chill out on the upper deck main pool instantly became a 10 AM pool party.

A member of the ship’s crew played music on the elevated platform – blasting off a blend of American pop songs and Bollywood music. In no time, it infused a revelry vibe to the sunny morning.  Not soon after, I and my fellow travel writers were strutting dance moves near the pool as another crew of the ship hosed us down with water. As more kids jumped into the pool, some of their parents joined the mini pool party and even passing guests would look at us with a bright look of marvel in their faces. 10 AM aboard Superstar Gemini just became one epic Pool Party.

On-ship entertainment includes this entertaining musical
Of the eleven bars and restaurants on board Superstar Gemini, at least four restaurants serves complimentary buffet meals; Bella Vista (western food), Mariners (Asian), Dynasty (Chinese) and Oceana (nighttime barbecues and cocktails). We would be seen huddled around a table at each of these four restaurants every day – enjoying a good ole talk about whatever over plates of sumptuous dishes.

Dynasty Restaurant Photo Credit: Lakad Pilipinas
Sandwiching the parties and witnessing the other on-ship events, food-tripping became a favorite activity of ours. The fusion of cultures aboard Superstar Gemini isn’t only present in the diverse composition of its crew, it is also in display in the many delectable cuisines served on board. 

On-board Happenings and the Party Pirates of Melaka Strait

The expansive Stardust Lounge is the place-to-be when nighttime falls. The first night we watched Kyla; the Philippines’ R&B Princess, performed romantic songs while playfully mingling with the crowd. Earlier in the night, illusionist couple Richard Burr and his enigmatic wife, Josette wowed the crowd with some of their magic tricks.

The next night we became witness to a spectacular acrobatic slash musical show showcasing elegant movements, sultry singing and colorful radiance of beaming lights. We capped our second night with a ‘Neon Party’ that lasted just after midnight.

There were no down time aboard the ship as during the afternoon, film showings are held inside the Stardust Lounge. There are also a few entertaining games the guests can participate in such as; the Lip Sync battle where my fellow travel writers Gael, Carla and Edgar performed as Beyonce, Mariah Carey and Elvis Presley, while I joined Christian, Alexa and Mervin cheering for them.

My favorite was the adult show Marionettes. Featuring most of the male and female performers of the previous’ nights acrobatic and musical show, the spectacle showcases an artistic set of graceful choreography and stunts that will make you appreciate the casts’ inventive performances and make you even forget that most of the female stars appeared on stage topless. Well sort of in my case, because as amazed I was with the performance I still dreamed about one of the female stars during my sleep that night.

Alexa Pajarillo

On our last night we rolled at least three parties to bookend our wonderful experience; kicking off with the Captain’s Cocktail Party and unto the Gala Dinner and Show, we partied with other guests and the on-ship entertainers and host for the finale; the Grand Farewell Party.

Shore Incursions to Penang and Langkawi Island in Malaysia

The on-board happenings at Superstar Gemini seems to have brought out our party instincts that we almost forgot about the shore incursions that awaited us at our daily dockings in Malaysia. Our first stop was the UNESCO World Heritage city of Georgetown on Penang Island. We explored the city both on foot and by riding a rickshaw, thus affording us a feel of the place fused with lovely influences of its colonial past and of the modern times. The next day we docked at the island of Langkawi, where an outdoor jaunt aboard a small speedboat took us to the karst-infested surrounding of Kilim Geoforest Park. Among the places we visited were a limestone cave and a fish and eagle sanctuary.

Penang Street art
Is Cruise Ship Traveling Worth the Try?

My answer to that is an ‘absolutely, positively resounding Yes’. I noticed the rest of the guests were a mixture of retirees, young couples, families and group of friends. This fact assured me that the prevailing idea of cruise ship travel is not anymore reduced to groovy retirees, of titas and titos and the likes. Cruise ship traveling has become this wonderful option to bond with your love ones and friends – or better yet, a special someone.

As I walked out of the ship for one last time after we docked back at Harbour Front in Singapore – and yet again minus a girlfriend, I told myself to experience another get-go at cruise living in the near future. Hoping next time, it will be with a honeymoon mate. “Choose life, choose a girl to cruise with, choose Star Cruises”. I smiled at the idea and as I turn my head for one last look, I see the gigantic Superstar Gemini gleaming its lights against the dark skies – appearing before me is not only a picture of a marvel of marine engineering but also of a blissful place that sails in the middle of the sea.

(This article originally appeared on the January 22, 2016 issue of Business Mirror and Pinay Travel Junkie)

SuperStar Gemini - Star Cruises

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Metro Manila, Philippines

Contact Number: Philippines - (+63) 836.6830 to 32

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