By Jane Kingsu-Cheng
My first and only cruise trip is with Super Star Cruise, and that was when I was still single. Planning for my second cruise trip with the family got me excited, because we get to discover new places again and bond in the comforts of the big ship.
Super Star Cruise Virgo is here for a limited time, departing Manila and docking in Keelung (Taiwan) and Ishigaki (Japan), and going back to Manila with a total of six days of travel. At first glance, one might think six days is too long a trip, but it was just right and very productive, if I may say so.
I also got to meet two moms on board my trip, Andrea Manzano, Assistant Vice President of Sales of Genting Cruise Line and Janice Villanueva of Mommymundo. We compared notes and reminded each other of what we can do on board, and we’re sharing them all here so that you can plan yours the best trip:
On board activities
Awesome experience to play with the PBA legends; amazing show every night; we got to meet the captain;one of the best meals at The Pavillion; the pool is a favorite for the whole family, and it comes with a big slide, too!
1. It is recommended that families stay in the Balcony class cabin. Andrea shared that these rooms are designed to accommodate a family of four (2 adults and 2 kids), with parents sleeping on a double bed, and the kids on the sofa bed. Best news? Connect-ing Balcony cabins are available, too!
2. So many activities on board, especially swimming and their fun slide in the outdoor pool area. Outdoor jacuzz-is area also available, and heated, too! There are also special events held on selected trips. Ours was with the PBA Legends Patrimonio, Paras, Abarrientos and Codinera to name a few, with my son being trained by them. Janice’s husband and son also got to play with them —- What an experience! My two younger kids joined the Easter egg hunt and egg-painting activities, while my eldest son stayed in the Arcade room where he got to play his favorite PS4 games.
3. Join the exclusive tours such as the Captains Bridge Tour, where we got to meet the Captain and observe how cruise ships are run. The Galley Tour was also amazing as we met the kitchen staff and how they prep for meals for the people on board —- 2,000 travellers on board on the average!
4. So many restaurants to try, serving different cuisines, from buffet to sit-down meals. You won’t go hungry, for sure. Andrea’s tip: Don’t forget the barbeque dinner at the pool deck as the highlight. Parents can enjoy the dinner and live entertainment, while kids enjoy swimming or being in the jacuzzi.
5. The live shows at night are a must to watch. We were entertained every night with full production shows of acrobats, international dancers and world renowned magicians. You also get to meet some of them via magic and dancing workshops afterwards.
When in Ishigaki, Japan
Andrea’s recommendations include photo-ops, salmon sushi and ramen shopping in
Aeon Supermart, while my family stayed nearby the docking station to shop for local
1. There are available tours for you to join, with a fee. Andrea added that Okinawa island (where Ishigaki is) boasts of beaches, so might as well take advantage of the sand and sea. While in Ishigaki, Kabira Bay is a must-see for its emerald-blue waters and go on a Glass Bottom boat ride to see the vast marine life of Kabira bay.
2. If you will be joining the tours, all of them will bring you to Aeon Supermarket. Andrea’s tips: I asked the sales staff which is the Ichiban (special) Oishi (delicious) Miso noodles, they pointed out these to me. So far so good! I saw these in Manila being sold at P400 per pack. In Ishigaki, it only costs around P200 per pack. Don’t forget to try their Japanese salmon sashimi, too! You won’t regret it.
3. For those, who like me, are with toddlers and senior citizens, a steady walk around the docking area is good enough. A shopping arcade is close by, within 5-10 minutes (walking distance) with offerings of the islands delicacies. Must-buys include their ramen and KitKat Sweet Purple Potato flavour that is only available in Okinawa.
When in Keelung, Taiwan
Taiwan means we get to enjoy a lot of yummy street food and milk tea, too. Shopping for sneakers is also a must!
1. Buy branded rubber shoes! It is said that Taiwan has great price points when it comes to sneakers.
2. Eat, eat, eat and drink milk tea! Our find? Milk Tea in XL size cups (1 liter). Yum! There are small shops (similar to Manila’s Chinatown) nearby, only 5 minutes away.
3. Andrea and Janice traveled to Taipei, which is one hour away. Andrea joined the guided tour that features Taipei 101 Observatory. Her kids got to try the VR machines that are available at 1,670 feet above the ground. Janice, on the other hand, took the MTR to Taipei and went to XiMenDing market to shop and have Taiwanese street food and snacks.
Don’t forget to:
1. Take lots of photos. There are so many picture perfect spots. My personal favorite (and Andrea’s, too) is the Parthenon pool and Grand Piazza, and there is really so much more. Check out my instagram account for more ideas @janekingsucheng
2. Join the Gala night. It’s an experience you should never skip. Andrea’s tip: Register early if you want to attend the gala night. As cruise maybe full at times, best if you can register on the first night or as soon as you arrive the ship to ensure you will get a slot based on your preferred timings. Dress up and take that classy look to enjoy the titanic-like feeling moment.
3. Shop onboard with special deals. Yes, they have a duty-free shop and it goes on sale the day before disembarkation.
4. Make checking out easy by doing the express check out with the enrolment of your credit card. Andrea assured us that you don’t have to worry, because summary of the bill will be given to your cabin the night before checking out.
1. How to combat sea sickness?
Many cruising guests, especially first-timers may often worry about sea sickness while taking a cruise vacation. These days, sea sickness is not a big problem as many will think and generally most people do well. Modern cruise ships are designed to minimise the movement that can lead to seasickness with its stabilizing technology. However, for guests that are worried, there are many steps on how to combat seasickness. For instance, choosing the right cabin, lying down may help deal with motion sickness on a cruise and over-the-counter seasickness medications are available 24 hours from our front desk or medical center. Many people fear seasickness than actually experiencing it. So, don’t let it stop you from taking a cruise vacation, which is indeed a unique and enjoyable way to travel.
2. Until when will SuperStar Virgo bedocking in Manila?
SuperStar Virgo’s homeport deployment in Manila will be until June 3, 2018.
3. If we join a trip Manila-Japan-Taiwan-Manila, can we get off in Taiwan if ever? what are the fees and requirements?
All passengers have the option to get down in any port of call and join a guided tour or may do it free and easy. Getting off or totally disembarking in Taiwan is possible too provided guests have proper documentation/visa.Good thing, if one wishes to get off Taiwan, any Filipino with a valid Philippine passport is allowed to visit Taiwan visa-free until 31 July 2018.
4.Is this senior-citizen friendly? What are the activities that they can do?
Cruising is often popular with many senior citizens as it is a relaxing and hassle-free way to travel. Once aboard, there are many things to do and experience. Our senior passengers may treat this as a staycation at sea where they can have massages or reflexology in our onboard facility. For elderly guests with strict dietary requirements, these may also be arranged prior their cruise to ensure that their meals on board are well-prepared based on their dietary/health needs. For entertainment, they may also want to spend an hour or two in our Casinos or lounge at the Galaxy of the Stars which features live entertainment.
5. Is it possible to extend in between stops and join the next batch that docks in Taiwan or Japan?
This is possible. However, the guest will have to pay for two cruises (covering the 1st cruise coming from Manila and the 2nd cruise being on another departure date that will take him back to Manila from Taiwan or Japan). Also, guests will already have to secure a visa in Japan given that they will be staying in Japan for more than a day and will not be taking the same cruise they initially joined to enter Japan.
6. Is there internet connection?
You can connect to the world even if you are in the middle of the ocean. Yes, wifi is available! The only thing is it does not come for free as there is a minimal charge to it, but you can connect real time still and update your social media accounts and use for emergency, thus, no worries of losing in contact with your family and friends.
7. What are the ongoing promos?
Kids cruise for free when you bring them as your 3rd and 4th passengers. Celebrate Mother’s Day aboard the ship this May 9-14, and get to meet Pororo the Little Penguin and his friends this coming May as well. For June 3 to 8, experience a 6D/5N roundtrip Manila cruise to Kaohsiung and Hong Kong at very special Cruise One, Take One promo. Book your cruise through any local travel agency today or visit http://bit.ly/SuperStarVirgoinManila!