15 September 2010, Wednesday–Exactly 101 days before Christmas and 3 days prior to my big day, I had an experience of a lifetime!
Four of my colleagues who are now my new found travel and shopping friends (read: GASTOS ito! ….note to self: SAVE more Ringgit!) and I went on an overnight cruise within Malaysian waters via Superstar Pisces. I was sort of the mind behind the plans of how to spend our eleven-day-vacation that began lunch time of 09 September, Thursday and will end on 19 September Sunday, within our limited budget of course.
I’ve been longing to experience a cruise with my family since the day my youngest brother traveled 30 European countries when he worked with Costa Atlantica few months after he finished his Tourism course in CEU, Manila. I know for a fact that it would cost me a fortune before I can experience such but not until I had a chance to be in Penang.
It was the early days of August when I first spotted that one of those remarkable Star Cruise liners is harbored in Penang bay. Soon after, I became intuitive with the travel agencies located in Prangin Mall, George Town. My itchy feet can’t wait since I’ve learned that Superstar Pisces is so affordable at RM 110/pax all in (PhP 1540 without room, almost RM 300 or PhP 4200 for twin sharing of a tiny cabin with toilet, at present rate) inclusive of buffet dinner and breakfast!. Who would not give it a green light?
We were officially informed of our long-paid holiday about few days before we did the reservation. Needless to say, our preferred date of the cruise was already fully booked and the only available rates were that of standing pax only. I thought, come what may, we have to push through with the game plan.
And so on the afternoon of 15 September, Wednesday, we trooped to the pier where Superstar Pisces is harbored. Check in started at 5:30PM until 7PM.
Don’t you just like the name of this harbor? Sounds like sweet ham to me.
Upon entry, we presented at the counter our booking confirmation which we just claimed from the travel agency half an hour before boarding. *wrong move! we could have claimed it days before* Then, the Chinese lady at the counter asked for our passports and handed us a cruise pass; somewhat like a credit card with your complete name on it and it’s the only thing you need when you purchase something on board.
Meet my travel buddies …
We hopped on the lift and went directly to the 11th floor then headed straight to the viewing deck.
Here are some of the things and amenities you can enjoy with this wonderful cruise ship…
Seemed like we’re looking for our cabin here…oops, they’re all fully booked, remember?
On where we slept the night, I’ll just leave it to your imagination. As for me, I had an hour and a half of restful sleep.
Do you know how to play mahjong? …I don’t.
Souvenir shop, Japanese restaurant, Children’s Day Care Center, an arcade for kids and kids at hearts, karaoke bar, Galaxy of the stars where the singers and wait staffs are all Pinoys, casino and more…
Blame it on my shirt, we were easily recognized by a volume of Pinoy crew on board. Seriously, we’re all proud to know that almost half of the 600 crew members of Star Cruise Pisces from 20 nations were from the Philippines. Most of them just boarded few weeks back; some even joined the cruise ship for work on that very same day.
It’s so comforting to see kababayans who work hard for families back home. We stood tall amidst various colors!
Below are some of the warm Filipino cruise ship crew we met inside Superstar Pisces : Lovely, Josephine & Erica
Inclusive of the cruise rates were the buffet dinner and breakfast served at Mariners resto at 6PM-9PM and 6AM-9AM respectively. Chow time made me miss more my wife, Tina and of course our bundle of joy, Gabby. I so hope that I can bring them over someday to experience this as well.
Our buffet dinner at Mariners…
Since Star Cruise Pisces sails within predominantly Muslim waters, they serve Halal-food. We’re informed that the spread vary everyday but for our cruise, in the absence of pork dishes, we pig-out Ostrich with broccoli, Prawns with Garlic, Sweet and Sour Chicken, Chicken dimsum noodle and so much more delicious foods!
Spaghetti Marinara, fruits and assorted desserts…
When I was scanning the spread, I met one of the chefs who happens to be Pinoy too.
After dinner, one can try their luck at the casino, play bingo and might hit the jackpot, relax in the spa with indoor jacuzzi and sauna, or just unwind and listen to the music by a Filipino band…
With my every bite, I miss my wifey and son, particularly when I saw the free flowing coffee and tea counter and yes, those cereals. Tina and Gabby love those for breakfast!
On my plates :
Other than meeting Pinoy crew on board and experiencing how it feels like to be in one of the Star Cruises, the best part of our trip for me was welcoming the break of the new dawn at the deck of Superstar Pisces…
This was absolutely priceless!
We went down and settled our bills (I purchased a Star Cruise canvass pillow as souvenir) then claimed our passports before disembarking at past 8 in the morning.
I’m just glad we did the cruise; so grateful for all the blessings–big and small!
Star Cruise Pisces, it wasn’t good bye, but see you again soon, with my family.
PS : Salamat po sa mga Pinoy crew na nakilala namin sa Star Cruise Pisces : Aime, Rhodalyn, Mike, Tirso, Erica, Lovely, Josephine, Gino, Joey, Mark, Godfrey, Chef Antonio at iyong ilang hindi namin nakuha ang mga pangalan.