For Guamanians looking to check off “dream cruise” from their bucket list, that special voyage is just a short flight to Manila away. For the first time ever, a major international cruise line is homeporting a ship in the Philippine capital. Star Cruises, Asia’s largest, has teamed up with Resorts World Manila to offer “stay and cruise” packages especially for Guam and Saipan customers.
The series of summer cruises aboard the flagship Superstar Virgo began in mid-March and will continue through the end of May. The 6-day, 5-night cruises begin in Manila and make port calls at Laoag province in northern Philippines; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; and Hong Kong, China.
In a press conference in Manila held to announce the historic launch, officials from Star Cruises’ parent company, the Genting Group, also revealed that service out of Manila resumes in December 2017 to various other destinations in Asia, including Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, and Okinawa, Japan. Genting Executive Director Hui Lim said it was the beginning of a long-term commitment. “Together with the support of the Philippine government and the various local agencies, we will continue to work closely to accelerate the growth of cruise tourism in the Philippines, and to maximize its full potential.”
Philippine Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo was also on hand as Genting and the government signed a memorandum of understanding to advance the cruise terminals and overall cruise experience in the Philippines. “The homeporting helps with our vision of establishing the Philippines as a regional cruise center to serve as homeport and eventually, as a center for cruise crew training, maintenance services, and ship building in the long term,” Secretary Tulfo-Teo explained.
For her maiden voyage out of Manila, the SuperStar Virgo set sail with more than 2,000 passengers on board. One of the of the most dramatic features of the 935-cabin luxury cruise vessel is its grand lobby, which opens to a grand staircase, and is visible through glass elevators that rise to the top of the 13-storey vessel. Another unforgettable feature of the ship is the outdoor swimming pool and Jacuzzis located on the top level, which also features a 100-meter mega water slide. Passengers can indulge in most anything their heart desires: a foot reflexology salon and spa, gym, steam and sauna rooms, a hairdressing salon, duty-free shops, a mini-golf course, karaoke room, children’s activity center, and more.
The ship offers a wide range of dining choices from Chinese, Japanese, and international cuisine, in a variety of settings from formal to casual. There is also a two-level theater that hosts nightly shows featuring world-class entertainment. And a cruise vessel would not be complete without the on-board casino, which houses table games and slot machines.
There is so much to see and do aboard ship that you might be tempted not to go ashore for one of the exotic port tours, but that would be a mistake. Star Cruises bills this new itinerary as the “Jewels of the South China Sea.” It begins with a stop in Laoag, the capital of Ilocos Norte, Philippines, where passengers can indulge in unique local gastronomic delights. The next port of call is Kaohsiung, the largest southern port city in Taiwan, with its surprising cultural ties to Dutch voyagers. Finally, passengers will be able to disembark in exciting Hong Kong, a bustling metropolis world famous for shopping, dining, entertainment, and nightlife.
For more information on the cruise, check their website at www.starcruises.com
One of the of the most dramatic features of the 935-cabin luxury cruise vessel is its grand lobby, which opens to a grand staircase, and is visible through glass elevators that rise to the top of the 13-storey vessel.