I set to sail on STAR VIRGO on the 4th of September from Singapore with my wife and another couple from Dubai, where I have lived all my life. It was my maiden cruise voyage and our excitement skied heights with the reviews that we had received about the STAR CRUISES experience. After our amazing stay in Singapore we were expecting the gala times to continue on the cruise, but our disappointment started the moment we entered our rooms.
The management at the check in seemed decent. The number of people was too many but yet the check in and the luggage drop went smoother than expected. But the moment we entered our rooms, our fairytale second honeymoon was kind of interrupted. Besides requesting for a couples room we were given 2 split beds with the most unexpected level of hygiene. Besides hiring out the window rooms, we were almost convinced by the bellboys on our floor that we had made a wrong decision and that upgrading to a balcony room by paying a heavy tariff difference would be a smarter move. We were almost in minds to upgrade but later decided not to. And it was at the time of the refusal to the offer that we were offered to join the beds in our existing rooms. We decided that we would not let this bother the 4 us. Keeping this in mind we set out to explore the ship.
On reaching the deck where we had to book for the Gala Dinner or the Captains Dinner as they call it, we were surrounded by staff who were very helpful to us only and if only we were interested in buying the wine or beer vouchers they had to offer. Any other queries from them seemed like a complete waste of their time. And it was not only at this point even in between shows or meals there were a constant persuasion of purchase of these vouchers, which was very annoying.
While our wait for the booking of the Gala Dinner, we finally decided to buy a wine voucher to be used at the Gala Dinner. But we had a surprise in store. Our waiting token number was 91 and as the count reached 65 there was an announcement that all the restaurants for the Gala Dinner are now fully booked. The only thing that we could do now is wait till our turn comes and further put our names in the waiting list for the dinner. With the frame of mind that we were in we knew that it wasn’t going to work in our favor but in all optimism we still did put our names in the waiting list. And just as we expected it was of no use. We had made a few friends on the cruise who were lucky enough and managed to get a booking for the dinner. They told us that tables besides them were empty, which proves that there was no interest in trying for the people on the wait list. In my assumption not even 10% of the people on wait list received confirmations when more than 30 – 35 % of the seating remained vacant for the Gala Dinner.
The mentioned dress codes for the shows felt like a joke. Everywhere that we were asked to be in formals we saw people walking in wearing shorts and flip-flops. I don’t know till now that were we too foolish or did the others know Star Cruise dress codes a bit too well.
The checkout too didn’t go to smooth. Yes the bill settlement was a cakewalk but while disembarking back in Singapore we felt like a herd of sheep being pushed off a truck. It was utter madness. No rules or discipline.
I bumped into a cousin of mine on the ship, he had come for his honeymoon in Star Cruise in 2002, and his experience back then had made him return. The air conditioner in his room had broken down in the middle of the night and the solution that he was given was that he was given a temp room to sleep in and his luggage to be kept in the cabin allotted to him at the time of booking. It didn’t make sense to any of us but its OK so didn’t many other things. His conclusion post this trip was that “IM DONE WITH STAR CRUISE.” And he was not the only second time cruiser saying that.
To my knowledge this cruise has a capacity of 2700 passengers and we were sailing with about 2300 passengers. That’s less than 90% occupancy and with the reviews I had heard, I believe that Star Cruise can’t blame their high occupancy for their deteriorated services and quality.
Before we departed Dubai, the one part of our holiday that all 4 of us were looking forward to was the cruise as all 4 of us were first time cruisers and with the reviews that we had heard about Star Virgo we were more than sure that we are taking the rights step. But however after this journey on Star Virgo (4th September 2011 to 7th September 2011) we wish we had never put it up on our itinerary.