This was the 3rd time we have been on this cruise, first on the Gemini and twice on the Virgo. The first trip on the Gemini was the reason we came back. While it was a much smaller ship with no balconies, the staff and other cruisers made the trip one of the best cruises we have had, out of the 9 cruises we have done to date. (The 2nd best was Canada/Alaska on the Volendam).
Unfortunately this cruise did not meet our past Star Cruise experiences , mainly due to the fact that there were only a small number of non Indian/Asians on board. While we have cruised with many different nationalities before and have enjoyed eating (and drinking) with them and discovering were they come from, this cruise was 75% Indian and 24% Asian. As the Indian cruisers did not seem to drink or gamble and the Asian cruisers were only seen when in the casino, we found this cruise seemed to be focused on these two nationalities. The Mediterranean Buffet was in two sections, Indian and Asian, we ate there for 2 days and then had the rest of our meals at the Bella Vista after we discovered they had western style food a la carte. The meals here for breakfast, lunch and dinner were excellent and with table service you didn't have to join the queues for food.
We ate once in the pay for restaurant, namely the Italian Palazzo, we have eaten here on our previous trip and found some of the same staff still there. The food and service was excellent, as was eating off the Versace gold plates. Two issues were that there was only us two and another couple eating, and the nude painting was a bit off putting when trying to eat your food. We only ate here this trip due to our $400 dining credit, as the cost was excessive.
The cross selling by staff, trying to sell the extra restaurants and bottles of wine, shore excursions etc, was a bit annoying, but that stopped after the first few days when we didn't buy anything.
Our balcony cabin whilst clean,was looking tired and in need of new furniture bedding and a paint. We had forgotten how small the bathrooms were, but as we are both "small" people we had no issues with the size, though the general cruisers would have had issues in the shower. Most cruise ships provide an ironing room, this ship doesn't and you cannot bring a travel iron on board ( costly laundry service is only option). Hint, buy some cheap wire coat hangers and skirt hangers in Singapore, keep them for the cruise and your hotels and then leave them behind.
We were also disappointed with the reconfiguration of the itinerary, as we missed out on our favourite stop in Malacca, and felt that calling into Singapore twice,(which seemed mainly to pick up some more "gamblers) didn't seem necessary."
We have always enjoyed the shows in the past, especially the cruise show, but the fact that Virgo now charges for it's "special shows",was also a disappointment. As on our past Star cruises we would always end up in the Bellini bar for a few after dinner drinks and to talk to other cruisers. This time we were on many nights the only people there apart from the very obliging but bored staff. On the last night of the cruise even the 4 piece group performing in the bar were bored singing to 2 people, as they were talking amongst themselves whilst singing.
We don't usually do cruise reviews, but it is important before you book a cruise to get some idea of what goes on once you get on board. We would love to hear from other cruisers who have done this trip a few years ago and then recently, to hear their comments.