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Monthly Archives: May 2013

With sunshine nearly all year round, the blue clear water beaches are alluring and a great place to laze around. What's fascinating about the beaches in Andaman are the thick forest cover that looms ahead, the green fringes and the golden sand beaches are a great attraction this side of the Bay of Bengal. Many Indian tourists seek out the crystal clear waters to dive and indulge in water sports, foreigners find the dive sites one of the best in the world. Out of the total 572 islands, 37 are habitable in Andamans, Havelock island is one of the most happening islands with many tourists flocking to see the most romantic sunsets, golden beaches and proximity to Port Blair. Do check out the green lizard endemic to the Andamans, photo taken at Hotel Sentinel Port Blair, so much better than the common house lizards dont you think?

ALL ABOARD STAR CRUISES SUPERSTAR VIRGO

For the uninitiated a cruise can be a great way to experience the most relaxing way of holidaying on high seas. We took the magnificent Star Cruise Virgo to Penang and Phuket via Singapore for four days of sheer cruise experience. Welcome aboard Asia Pacific’s super cruise liner Superstar Virgo, the ultimate in luxury cruising both style and comfort. Winner of countless awards for decades, Star Cruises is the epitome of Asian Hospitality and memorable holidays for the entire family. Get stunned by the splendid Grand Piazza with its massive golden steeds welcoming you, this 915 cabin luxury liner awaits to pamper you with impeccable hospitality on board making your holiday an experience of a lifetime. SuperStar Virgo is a massive ship that can house nearly 2000 guests including staff, our first day the lobby was brimming with eager excited guests admiring the three bigger than life size horses in shimmering gold, a grand two way staircase, the lobby is truly magnificent and opulent. After soaking in the first impressions of the grand lobby we explored this 13 storeys ship top to bottom to check out our surroundings for the next few days at sea.

The cruise to the Far East has many combinations of days, places and its worth discovering the 3 nights 4 days package as we did, one can even consider a 2 night 3 days package to yet another far eastern sojourn. Harbour front was bustling with excitement, families and couples’ taking a cruise break, the cross section of people boarding from Harbour Bay Singapore, were majority Chinese, Indians and few Australians and British. We also came across some not so shy Indian newlyweds celebrating their honeymoon to experience the exotic routes in the Far Eastern Seas.

Superstar Virgo has Executive, Junior, Star Suites, Balcony, Deluxe Ocean view Windows and Inside Staterooms, your home on the high seas has a budget that suits all with classy interiors, comfortable beds and view of the sea. While others explored the ship we darted straight to the balcony of our room on the tenth floor via the capsule lifts, the view of the grand staircase, the golden horses, the lobby and reception desk gets more interesting higher up. Our superb room for the next few days was truly home and the balcony our favourite hangout, the excitement was palpable as we settled in!

Hunger pangs creep in, there are 11 restaurants and bars ranging from the Mediterranean, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Italian, a 24 hours coffee shop, spoilt us for choices, we decided to sample each and every of the World Cuisine on board during our stay. As a package deal the restaurants like Bella Vista, Mediterranean, and Pavilion (Chinese) had buffet served all times, varied, simply delectable food with different set menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For the premium rooms a food credit gave us an opportunity to try out the speciality restaurants like Samurai for the range of Sushi, all freshly prepared, authentic Japanese cuisine with a Tatami room for an overall Japanese ambience. The Italian Palazzo had impressive Armani Versace crockery serving the best pizzas and pastas.

Cruise pass times are many, never a dull moment on board, one can afford to be a glutton while travelling as the activities on board are pleasurable and sporty, you can burn all the calories away. An early start, yoga at  the Promenade with an instructor, a hearty breakfast thereafter in Bella Vista the largest restaurant on board displaying an array of Western and Indian breakfast, an hour later we joined in the delicate art of Sushi making with Chef Ferdinand from the Japanese Restaurant Samurai. Next stop, headed straight to the Lido where renowned magician Charles Bach enthralled kids and grownups alike. For kids the activities on board are really exciting, this is truly when cruise life are happy times for the entire family. The Nickelodeon Club, Pyjama Jam, Arts and Crafts, Tea Party are some of the Theme events for children, but most kids love the Nickelodeon Splash at the Neptune Pool on the upper most deck, the various slides, and fun pool splashes, parents have a tough time dragging them out.

Zumba Cardio Dance Party with cruise staff was exhilarating and a great work out, no guilt feelings as we lunched at the Pavilion Room and tasted the most authentic Chinese Buffet. On board we were so intrigued on how Star Cruise caters to meals full house of nearly 3000 people?, more on that ,we joined in Executive Chef Reinhard Mammes as he took us on a tour around the main and biggest galley, we witnessed how chefs prepare all our meals aboard, but the next stop was even more enlightening. Captain Jan Blomqvist from Finland was giving a talk on the deck above, we rushed in as fixed time slots are given to have the privilege of meeting him, other technical staff and we were taken to the room which actually steers the ship! Never realized that it takes Watch officers, Radio, Chart, Pilot and of course the Captain and many other staff to control the 76,800 thousand tons Superstar Virgo, with the most modern navigation satellite system. Maximum cruising speed on board on clear seas can be an exhilarating feeling, especially when you look down from the 13th floor, at 25.5 nautical miles the speed cannot be felt at all indoors, it’s so placid, as if on land even the gentle sway is unnoticed.

The Parthenon Pool, with family size warm water Jacuzzis in all corners, dive into the refreshing 7 ft deep cool waters of the pool, glide through the long and winding water slide on ship for sheer thrills. A quick dash to the Oscar Salon for a nice makeover, we were ready for the night under the stars, but before that I had to accessorise at the shopping arcade onboard, a silk scarf and matching top was great retail therapy. And then the band began to play, inviting guests to huddle up in their lounge chairs with exotic cocktails and mocktails, swinging under the stars on the top deck with Tetra Trio was nostalgic as they belted out Oldie Goldies.  The Lido had an impressive Comedy night, the Bellini had the Sound Clipper Band, at the Galaxy of the Stars –Jazz band entertained for a good two hours. Losing is no big deal as we played Bingo and Jackpot Lottery, a grand Chinese dinner at the Noble House lifted our spirits. Adept at using chopsticks we gorged on the celebrated Peking Duck with crispy egg noodles and mouth watering chilly crab.

Mind you all this was a day at work, the next day we were geared for the exotic excursions to Penang and then on to Phuket, wondered if the ships activities will be missed. There were so many things to do, I wanted to join the laughter Yoga classes, Jog on Star Tracks on the top most deck, a soothing spa and Aqua Swim at the Apollo Spa, I had even reserved a luxury private room for four at the Karaoke, I had great plans to sit out at the Tea Culture a quaint tea corner with a great view, we so wanted the Tatami room one evening at the Samurai, but it was reserved all days! Luckily we witnessed the most impressive Sunrise and Sunsets by the Promenade, on the other hand we missed the adult show Nikita, so much to do and so little time.

The Grand Finale was at the Lido, the last evening after the Gala Dinner spread out in all restaurants was a formal affair, the friends we made joined in for a super feast with the Captain, his crew and family. At the Bella Vista where we had a sit down formal dinner, the menu was exhaustive and exclusive. The Lido had an impressive line up of international acts and show aptly called Somewhere in Time, with a host of talented singers, acrobats, actors and incredible costumes, they held the jam packed 800 seater auditorium spellbound. But all good things come to an end and the show had us choked in mixed emotions, a great show but we were sad to leave the next day, a cruise holiday makes you long for more! Star Cruises has different packages to other exotic locations in the Far East, someday we plan to try them all!

 

Text- Jyoti Shetty and Nala Ponnappa of Travel Log Writers

Photo- Nala PonnappaIMG_0755_4R_1 IMG_0809_4R_1

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