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FOR someone who enjoys travelling via land — by car or train and only take a flight if necessary— the idea of a cruise did not really excite me.

Recently, Star Cruises, a member of Genting Cruise Lines, celebrated the arrival and inaugural home port deployment of SuperStar Gemini in Port Klang and I become one of the first guests to cruise with her to celebrate the deployment.

Once I arrive at Boustead Cruise Centre in Port Klang, I drop my luggage and head upstairs to get my cabin card which also serves as a credit card during the cruise.

I also surrender our passport there as the cruise is dropping by Phuket on the second day.

The process is very swift and within a few minutes we’re already walking towards our “home” for four days and three nights.

The friendly crew welcomes the media team and directs us to have our breakfast at Bella Vista, one of the three restaurants to enjoy ourselves during the trip.

I order an American Big Breakfast set for myself and the portion is just nice for one person.

After tucking into the yummy breakfast, I check into my room. A beautiful Superior Ocean view Stateroom welcomes me and I am excited as my cabin has a huge window, almost from floor to the ceiling. What a view to start my journey with Super Star Gemini!


A CRUISING TOWN

Just a few hours onboard a cruise holiday, I now understand why people actually have cruise holiday as their checklist in their bucket list.

A cruise is definitely a one-stop centre for a good relaxing holiday.

Want to relax and pamper yourself?

Head over to the King Neptune Health Club for a massage, a manicure or pedicure. Want a new hairstyle or a good hair wash? Oscar Beauty Salon is available. Just make a reservation and you’re good to go!

Almost everything you would find in a town, you can find in the cruise. Which makes things easier for some guests who travel with their children as well, since there is a Childcare Centre with children’s playroom and nursery.

Miss shopping? No problem! The Super Star Gemini features a wide range of shopping options from boutiques to jewellery outlets.

To entice you even more, they even have duty-free outlets with items at affordable prices.

One thing we need to know is that although the cruise ship may not look that huge, there are rooms and stairs everywhere and it is easy to get lost.

Fret not, as you will receive a Star Navigator, a newsletter which lists all the activities lined up for the day and also all the facilities available on the cruise along with which deck it is located on.

You can find all the important notices on disembarkation of passengers (since we will be landing in Phuket and Penang), restaurant opening hours, and seeing how Instagram pictures are important, sunrise and sunset times are also listed.

After exploring the ship, I feel a little hungry and therefore decide to have my dinner. I am spoilt for choice as there are not one or two but four inclusive restaurants to choose from — where one enjoys

SIX meals a day at no additional cost. Out of the four restaurants, three are pork and lard-free!

I settle for Oceana Barbeque to have a good barbecued lamb and grilled shrimps.

After dinner, I walk around the ship with some new friends before opting to rest early as I will be stopping in Phuket tomorrow.


FIRST PORT OF CALL

You know the times when you want to sleep and wake up in another country? This is how I’m feeling right now. I go to sleep in Malaysia and wake up in Thailand! Well, the Andaman Sea, to be exact.

I don’t want to miss the beautiful sunrise and so I wake up earlier and head to the 12th deck where I find a nice spot to enjoy the sunrise.

It feels different to watch the sunrise in the middle of the sea.

The reflection of the sun on the sea and the beautiful colours bring me to a whole different world.

I spend almost an hour there and then go for my breakfast before heading back to my cabin to get ready for Phuket.

You have a choice of booking shore excursion tours provided by the cruise or just go around the town on your own. Since our organisers have already arranged the shore excursion activities for us, off we go!

We first go to the cashew nut factory, where we get to see workers extracting the nuts from the fruit. It’s a great place to get some souvenirs, albeit quite pricey ones.

No trip to Thailand is complete without visiting a temple or two.

For our second stop, we’re off to Wat Chalong. Wat Chalong is the largest and the most revered temple in Phuket. There are three main structures and each is breathtakingly beautiful.

Some of my team mates take the time to snap some #OOTD (outfit of the day) pictures with the temple in the background.

After spending some time there, we head to the Big Buddha statue, which is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Phuket.

You need to brace yourself as you will be driven up a steep and winding road for almost 6km to the top of Nakkerd Hill. But trust me, the journey is worth it.

Not only will you get to see a magnificent Buddha, made of marble and sitting right on top of the hill, you also get a 360-degree view of Phuket. Unfortunately for us, it’s cloudy and rainy when we arrive.

After spending about 30 minutes there, we’re off for an authentic Thai dinner before heading back to Patong Beach and back on our ship.

Despite our hectic day, my teammates and I are still full of energy and so we decide to watch the live comedy show by Fabulous Chan, an exceptional performer from Thailand.

From the beginning until the end of the 45-minute show, I could not stop laughing. He is super entertaining and hilarious! Did I mention that this is one of the many included entertainment shows on the cruise? What a nice way to end my day!


SECOND PORT OF CALL

We arrive in Penang today. It is a free-and-easy day but Tourism Malaysia has organised a trip for the media group to The Top Komtar so we all head there.

I am amazed by the facilities and activities offered at this relatively new attraction in George Town.

Although I am afraid of heights, I brave myself to walk on the Rainbow Skywalk.

The open-air skywalk is 249 metres above ground and it may terrify you if you are afraid of heights.

I also decide to challenge myself for The Gravityz. My instructors help me to wear the full body safety harness which is later hooked onto a safety lanyard attached to the overhead safety line.

The whole of Penang may probably have heard my screams, especially when I have to do the Flying Fox.

Well, I’m proud to say that I completed all six challenges and am among many who actually completed the world’s highest rope course challenge.

The amazing view of Penang and the helpful instructors make my whole experience unforgettable.


BACK TO THE HOMEPORT

Our last night on the ship is so beautiful.

Being the final night for all the guests on SuperStar Gemini, the crew treat us to a wonderful farewell performance which brings us all to our feet. We sing and dance the night away!

I wake up the next morning with mixed feelings, reluctant to leave this place yet excited to go back home. I can’t believe that I just called this ship a place!

We head to the reception for the checkout process and settle our bills. That completed, we are all ready to disembark from the cruise ship.

Just a tip: if you are fit enough to carry your luggage, do so and you will save a lot of time.

Imagine the time that the crew needs to bring out the luggage of 1,500 guests!

It takes us almost an hour to get our bags.

Despite this, SuperStar Gemini has given me an experience of a lifetime that I’ll never forget.

The friendly crew, the good facilities and a whole interesting holiday. This will certainly not be my last cruise holiday!


TRAVEL FILE

SuperStar Gemini will be at Port Klang until April 28, with additional options to embark from Penang and Langkawi, offering variation of three night cruises which also includes Phuket, Thailand.

Round-trip cruise itineraries include a 4D/3N Phuket/ Langkawi cruise and a 4D/3N Phuket/Penang cruise. There are also special cruises including the 5D/4N Phuket/Krabi/Penang cruise (departing Feb 6) and the 3D/2N Singapore cruise (departing Feb 10).

Passengers can also enjoy 4D/3N Port Klang/Phuket round trips cruise itinerary from Penang available on selected departure dates.

Price depends on the cabin and itinerary chosen. Price is inclusive of access to all facilities in the cruise, excluding Bar and Cafe, Oscar Saloon, King Neptune Health Centre, Observatory KTV lounge or any additional meals.

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