SuperStar Virgo Cruise Review by crunouda: Great ship, but a fantastic destination
Great ship, but a fantastic destination
Asian cruises have a very small share of the overall cruise market, in fact, Westerners like myself on this cruise were pretty rare, but that just kind of made the whole trip feel a little more exclusive for me.
Ship - Very clean and well maintained, built in Germany in 1999. It looked about new. They did a very good job maximizing the space on this ship, despite its size it felt quite big and had plenty of public area, but felt somewhat confusing at times. The guests weren't really party animals, they all seemed to be in the casinos the whole time. The bars and clubs felt relatively empty. The ship itself was C-O-L-D. I have no idea why they kept the temperature so low. Outside the ship was very hot, encouraging one to wear shorts and short sleeves, but inside the ship, a light jacket and pants were in order. This was very frustrating and lead me to request a set outside on the deck most of the time when eating. At least the rooms had controllable AC.
Value - More One compelling reason I chose the Virgo (as opposed to the Libra that left from Singapore) was the high availability of balcony rooms. These were downright cheap, and there were plenty of them. Also, with the vast majority of the crew and passengers being Asian, no one tips, and no one expects a tip. It is a completely foreign concept to them. This was my first cruise, but I cannot imaging one without a balcony it was great.
Crew - The crew hailed from all over, Hong Kong (service desks/admin), Nepal(waiters), India(room service/cleaning), Thailand(masseuse), Vietnam(bartenders), China(entertainers), Korea(misc/guest service), and even eastern Europe(casino workers). Most spoke excellent English except for the Eastern Europeans, but this didn't stop them from going way out of their way to help me once (I didn't even ask for help). On a star cruise, more than likely, your bar tender has a four year college degree, or your waiter had some family connection to get their job. This doesn't mean they are bitter though, they are extremely happy to have their jobs because the countries they come from have rampant poverty and hyper competitive job markets (except maybe some hired from Hong Kong). This translates into a happy crew and great customer service. The Superstar Virgo also had a high crew to passenger ration, about 1 crew member per 2.6 passengers. There were some exceptions, one girl at the service desk declined to change my Korean Won (the "Italian Lira" of Asia) for Hong Kong Dollars, she seemed to think I was trying to exchange some unreasonable amount of money and instead wanted me to go to the casino. In the end it turned out to be me who was a bit silly, there was no way I needed $100 dollars worth of local currency for any of these shore excursions, $20 would be more than enough. Regardless she never did exchange my money and got completely distracted in the mad house the the ship turned into prior to the shore excursions.
Restaurants - There were MANY restaurants (over 6 if you count the small lunch bar), especially for a ship this size. We didn't even get a chance to go through all the free ones of which there are three. Of these the best had to be the buffet on the top floor. Breakfast, lunch, odd hours of the night, that place was open and you could get almost any food you wanted, from pizza to Indian food, I loved it. The western restaurant in contrast looked opulent but in a tacky sort of way. The time between courses was too long, and the food looked very fancy but tasted no where near as good as it looked, but as always the non-Chinese crew was very friendly. Only go to that one if you want to kill time, otherwise it is best to stick with the buffet.
Entertainment - I did not expect much from their main show, so I was thoroughly impressed by the skill of the Chinese acrobats. They were quite well practiced. The other elements of the show were cute, and borrowed heavily from Monty Python jokes, but never really reached the level of funny they were trying for. My wife and I thought about attending the adult show, but later decided against it as we were tired (and I preferred waking up early to catch the sunset).
Disembarkation - The Hong Kong terminal had plenty great places to shop, and when they built it they made sure to put as many as they could between the entrance and the boarding area. I did not enjoy dragging all my luggage through the crowded mall just to get to the boarding area. Actual embarking was amazing. I had seen Hong Kong from the bay in so many pictures, but words cannot describe how awe inspiring it was from the desk of that ship, especially with the was the sun reflected off of everything. Only the term "crystal city" comes to mind. Just amazing. Less
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