My fantasy for a cruise holiday started when I was evaluating options for the honeymoon about 2 years back. We didn’t want to do the Super Star at that time and looked at the Royal Caribbean. But due to some factors we couldn’t make it.
Then a few months back Nitika’s family started planning for a vacation and we were invited to join them. After lots of discussions with the travel agent we bundled a 4 night/5 day package onboard the Super Star Aquarius from Singapore. The Aquarius ship is said to be smaller than the regular Virgo which sails on this route. That apparently has been moved to Hong Kong for the Olympics tourist crowd. But if you haven’t been on a cruise ship before you’ll hardly know the difference.
On Sunday morning we reached the Singapore Cruise Terminal well in-time. The check-in is just like air travel. Instead of boarding passes you get access cards which are very crucial for the journey. These access cards not only act as your right to being on the ship but also a charge card whereby you can purchase anything on the cruise without having to carry cash on you. And of course they are your room keys too.
If you are doing the cruise during vacation time there is one thing for sure – You can’t feel homesick. Of the 975 passengers 450 were Indian. So don’t abuse in your mother tongue because you don’t know who’s listening on the next table. And of course there were at least a dozen honeymoon couples from India.
Activities galore …
Everyday the staff distributes newsletters which tells you the program for the day and also important news and announcements for the passengers. The days are packed with activities right from 8 in the morning till past mid-night. There is something for just about everybody. Games, dance shows, pool activity, art & craft sessions. In fact you might have a tough time deciding which activity should be skipped so that you can enjoy the other facilities onboard like the gymnasium, pool & Jacuzzi.
Our room was on the jogging track level and it’s good to have something like that especially when you eat like crazy onboard. The entire set of activities has been planned very extensively and the staff makes things really fun. They are spontaneous, humorous and extremely friendly greeting you with a big smile always. There were 2 grand musical shows of which one is a paid Las Vegas styled adult show. Both of them are a wonderful delight with lots of color, music, dance and glamour.
Food and more food …
They serve a total of Six Meals which are included in your package. The morning starts with Breakfast – there is a variety of eggs, breads, ham, bacon, baked beans, croissants, mashed potatoes and there is idli, samosa, upma for the Indian audience. Mid-morning tea is served with some biscuits and cakes. For lunch and dinner we could access the Spices restaurant which served Indian food. Or there was Dynasty which served set meals – Chinese or Western. Then there was the international cuisine at the Mediterranean.
In general the food was good yet unpredictable because sometimes it was awesome and sometimes it sucked big time. But you wouldn’t sleep empty stomach because there was a Mid-night meal which served pizzas, pastas, rice and more … And of course if (I really wonder how) you do feel hungry at any non-meal time you could eat something at their 24 hour restaurant which served international dishes like pizzas and noodles. One afternoon they also had a Fruit Station by the pool side where fresh cold fruits were served to help us beat the heat.
The Super Star Aquarius sails off from Singapore on Sunday afternoon. After a fun-filled evening the next afternoon it stops at Penang. Now because the port at Penang is not a very large one it cannot take in ships of this size. So we had to disembark into little ferries which took us to the little town of Penang.
After some rather rough waters in Penang we sailed overnight to reach next next morning the beach town of Phuket. We got about 8 hours here and had a good time visiting shopping centers, the beach side and an interesting coffee merchant. The next entire day we spent onboard relaxing by the pool side, lazing in the Jacuzzi and eating away to glory.
In Part 2 of the travel diary I will share my city experiences of Singapore, Penang, Phuket and the Bintan Island.