Hurray! I have finally been able to go outside the country and use my passport! Whew! Took me two years to finally use it. Haha.
Here's what happened on my first cruise trip. First let me tell you about the ship I went on.
(Photo credit: Starcruises via Starcruises.com)
♦ The SuperStar Virgo of Star Cruises ♦
I have never been on a cruise trip before so it was my first time to go on an overseas trip inside a really big ship. I have gone on boats and bancas but never a cruise ship (or even a yacht). It had never occurred to me that I would go on a cruise in my first foray outside the country. This first ocean tour became possible because of my cousin. She and her husband invited me to join them on a cruise trip. Of course since I can finally travel outside the country I agreed to join them. Yay!
(Screencap by ArtGirl via starcruises.com)
I didn't really care about the places we would go to. All I cared about was having something stamped on my passport. Haha. That was the most important thing for me. The two countries are not in my bucket list at all but, okay. I still went because it was also within my current budget.
Due to a busy schedule, I didn't have enough time to read about what to do or enjoy in the ship. All I managed to check was how it looked like and also if it had Wi-Fi. Of course I must not lose my online connection! Hello Bitlanders. Hahaha.
Did you know that SuperStar Virgo is the first international cruise line to make Manila it's home port? This happened in 2017.
Filipinos are only able to experience going on a cruise lately because of Star Cruises. To find out more about this cruise line in the Philippines, watch the official video they posted in 2015. Also watch the video below for their 2018 December Holiday cruise ad.
(Video credit: Genting Cruise Lines via YouTube)
Looks fun right? Initially when I asked my cousin what's in the cruise, the first thing I heard was the eat all you can buffet. Yay! That alone would have been enough for me, but what else is in this cruise liner? Let me tell you all about it.
♦ The Cruise Experience ♦
Apparently there are many things one can do on a cruise. There is a daily itinerary or schedule of events for you to choose from. And no I did not take a picture of it. Lol. My damaged smartphone decided it was time to corrupt the micro SD card. All the pre-boarding videos and images I took plus everything from the first few hours of the first day on board to until when I bought my phone got corrupted. Big mistake that I never back up my phone images or videos online ever. Hahaha. I even bought a handy smartphone tripod that vloggers use just to try and vlog about the experience but nooo. Fate had other things in mind. Tsk.
Suffice it to say that my first day on the cruise was not that happy at all. In fact I can say the entire trip was disappointing but no, of course there are enjoyable things inside SSV. Some of them made me appreciate the novel experience.
What struck me the most on the ship was having to deal with international people. I mean, I had to think twice when speaking because not every cruise staff who will assist you on board is Filipino. Imagine, I asked the bar lady about the welcome drinks in Filipino because she looked Pinay to me only to find out she is Malaysian. Boom. Hahaha. A Pinoy cruise staff heard me and he was the one who assisted me instead. See how friendly they are? It was embarrassing but I did not feel too embarrassed at all.
(Screencapped by ArtGirl, credit: SuperStar Virgo via YouTube)
It's a good thing most cruise employees dealing with guests have a name tag including their nationality on it so everyone will know what language we can use with them. The whole cruise experience made me want to learn Chinese because there were a lot of Chinese speaking people on board too. Probably because the cruise trip was also going to Sanya, China? Filipino-Chinese ftw!
By the way, to give you an idea of the trip we took, the route was: Manila, Philippines to Ha Long Bay, Vietnam to Sanya, China then back to Manila, Philippines. Awesome right? I will probably write a separate blog on the shore excursions in those two countries. This blog will be too long if I include it here.
Want to know what the best parts of being on the cruise was for me? In no particular order, find out below!
1. The Food!
Oh yes, I love everything about the food. Haha. This is the best part of being on a cruise for me.
(Screencapped by ArtGirl, credit: Raymond Garcia #KwentoMond via YouTube)
SuperStar Virgo is operated as a "freestyle" cruise ship, which means passengers have the choice to dine when, where and with whom they choose. All food presentation is a treat for the eye. All meals are included during the voyage at the main dining restaurants.
If you're not a picky eater and aren't used to luxury food then you will enjoy the eating in SSV. Hahaha. I thought I would get fat from all the food you can eat, 6 times a day! Too bad though because from all the walking I did on board and during the short shore trips, everything did not get stored as fat! If you plan on going on a cruise to eat all you can, don't worry you should not get fat unless you deliberately avoid walking or swimming during your entire stay!
Anyway, I didn't even think of taking pictures of the food. Remember, my smartphone sucks so why would I use it to take pictures of the delicious food? I hate my phone that's it. Haha. So I just ate everything I could. I was like a PG (patay gutom or eating everything I could like there's no tomorrow). Hahaha. Why not when you have early morning food available, and then breakfast, tea time, lunch, dinner and then supper! Whoa!
(Screencapped by ArtGirl, credit: Raymond Garcia #KwentoMond via YouTube)
There are three choices one can eat from: The Lido, Star Dining Room and Pavilion. Those are where you can eat international buffet, Western or Chinese food! The Lido is my favorite because who doesn't love buffets? You can choose what to eat and when to eat it. Unlike in restaurants like the other two, you will be served a set of food choices based on the menu. Well, yes buffets are like that too but you get to decide on the serving so I like it more than eating in the restaurants.
We also had an unfortunate experience ordering food in Star Dining. They were able to resolve it immediately due to their efficient Pinay staff who heard about our grievances upon walking out of the restaurant. Still we did not like Star Dining because of the bad experience even if the place looks wonderful. The food was good but I'll go for The Lido every day of the week if I could. Pavilion was okay too. Everytime I ate anywhere I was always full and satisfied except for two instances. Thank you Lord!
2. The Entertainment and Activities
(Photo credit: Starcruises.com)
Oh there's no shortage of entertainment on board the SSV. There is always something to do or a show or activity to go to. What's more, the cruise staff are friendly and can be fun to watch and play with. They dance and also organize several games where you can win a prize or a ship souvenir. I never got any SSV gold medal from the games but my cousin and her spouse did. Haha. All I got was a toothbrush kit as prize. Well, my practical side can be happy I don't need to buy another toothbrush anytime soon.
Although their shows weren't super amazing they were still entertaining enough. Nevermind if some of the shows did not make sense that much it was still better than doing nothing on a big ship. The best part of the shows were the lights, visuals and the costumes. I commend the costume maker for the details put in each of the outfits. Also, the best show I was able to watch is called Spirits. Yeah I was amazed at some of the "magic" that happened.
(Image credit: Starcruises.com)
Perhaps the best event/activity I enjoyed was the "free" basic Chinese lesson. No it did not include reading or writing lessons, just speaking and listening. Hahaha. The cruise staff "teacher" wrote the Chinese words in alphabet letters and translated the Chinese to English and vice versa. It was just short and simple but still fun and informative.
I would never pay to study Chinese at all. I am more into boycotting China-made products because of their bullying attitude towards the Philippines and other neighboring Asian countries. Then again, it is not easy to do as almost everything I see is made in China. From supermarkets to department stores and malls to sari-sari stores, you name it we got it. *sigh* Anyway I failed to go to the Chinese calligraphy class because of conflicting cruise schedules. After the shore excursion there was dinner to go to and my companions wanted to go somewhere else. Oh well.
There was also a soap making activity, table napkin folding and other events people could participate or enjoy. I even saw there was a DJ lesson available for a fee. Sadly our shore excursions took priority over some of the things I would have liked to do on the ship. Whew. I'd like to go back and cruise again if only I'm rich enough. Haha. I can't even go to the nearby DJ classes how can I go back to the one on the SSV, right?
(Screencapped by ArtGirl, credit: My Other Office PH via YouTube)
For the rich people or those with money to burn, you can go play in the onboard casino or join the lottery. You can even join bingo games too. If you don't want to go outside on shore trips then play in the game room for a fee. Choose the Playstation, arcade and other console games to enjoy your trip. Not a gamer? Well, there's also a library for book lovers. Plenty of English and Chinese books to read. Not much fantasy and sci-fi books in my taste though, but there are children's books too. There are more things to enjoy and it seems every cruise trip is different so it's good they have a daily itinerary as a guide for everyone.
3. The WiFi
Of course WiFi access is not free but wow who would have thought I could go online on a cruise ship? I love it! I was able to login to Bitlanders everyday because of it. Haha. And no it was not a waste of money because I shared it with my companions so for me it's still worth buying. Even if I wasn't able to post plenty of things online at least I could still get in touch with my clients or ask anything from anyone in the Philippines. Hehehe.
Was I able to work on anything while aboard the ship? Of course not! Who can seriously work while on vacation? I only did some in a few hours for two days I think and that's it. I am not a hardcore workaholic thank you very much. Hahaha.
I saw some people could do overseas video calls and such while on shore trips with no problem whatsoever. Wow, they must be that rich to afford international data packages.
4. Finally Got Travel Stamps on my Passport!
Woohooo! This is one of the best things I got out of the cruise. Because it was my first time outside the country of course my passport finally got stamped for the first time! Hurray!!! I didn't even need a China Visa because we were allowed temporary passage due to the shore excursion. I didn't even know it was possible until the travel agent told me. Oh I so love cruises now. Hahaha.
5. The Jacuzzi
Do not get your legs or armpits or whatever waxed on the day before the cruise otherwise you won't be able to swim immediately. This was my biggest mistake. Hahaha. Apparently you have to avoid getting soaked or go swimming at least 3 days after getting waxed! Whoa. Why? Because your pores would be open so it's a no-no.
On the first day we explored the ship. Of course we checked the pool area too and found out that the big pool in the middle is "deep" for short people. I mean, I'm not that tall and the pool was about 6 to 7 ft deep! Whoa! I did not swim there at all. And no I did not swim in the kiddie or practice pool either. Only those who are not good swimmers would understand. Lol.
(Screencapped by ArtGirl, credit: Tourism Philippines via YouTube)
This is why I only got to enjoy the Jacuzzi on the third day of the cruise. And it was fitting too because I dipped in it after our onshore excursion. That's the best way to relax your tired muscles. Hehe. The water was more than warm. Okay, it was hot but tolerable. Think of a bubbling hot spring. I actually remembered Pumbaa in the "hot spring" scene from The Lion King 1 1/2 while I was in it. Hahaha.
As for the giant slide, the weather was not great upon on our way back to Manila so the pool and slide area was closed to everyone. Only the Jacuzzis were open I think but still it was too bad I wasn't able to try sliding.
Here's a short compilation video I made. It shows one of the ship's Jacuzzi, what the ocean looks like while cruising and then the logo at the top of the ship.
(Video credit: ArtGirl via Bitlanders)
In my next blog, I will talk about the two shore excursions we took. One was in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam and then the other in Sanya, China. Let's see, maybe I can also blog about what to expect on your first cruise ship ride. Stay tuned!
So how about you? Ever been on a cruise trip? Would you like to go on one now? Share your thoughts in the comments! :)
For my other travel and related blogs, click below:
- 3 Interesting Places Worth Visiting in Arizona, USA
- My 1st Couchsurfing Event Experience: Free Swimming Lessons!
- Quezon City's Go-To Mall Buffet Food Park: The Alley by Vikings at UP Town Center
- 5 Things To Do in Five Fingers / Laque (Laki) Beach, Mariveles, Bataan
- 6 Steps to Travel on a Budget like a Local in the Philippines
- The World's Oldest Bamboo Organ is in The Philippines! >>> 5 Star Blog!
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