CRUISE  OF  MY  HEART
 
MANILA, SEPTEMBER 25, 2006 (STAR) RENDEZVOUZ By Christine S. Dayrit - What could be more romantic than listening to the strains of Some Enchanted Evening or If I Loved You while your beautiful ship glides across the waves under a starlit sky? On starlit nights, you can lie on the foredeck feeling the ship being caressed by the undulating wind. No motor noise mars the whoosh of the waves below; no neon or fluorescent lights compete with the glorious moon that casts its shadow on the seascape.

Romancing the seas has been a favorite theme of many films and television shows in the past. The famous television series The Love Boat and the blockbuster movie Titanic have given a tremendous boost to the concept of cruising as the ultimate romantic vacation. Vignettes of this film and many classics came to mind as my traveling companions and I sipped champagne on the deck of the luxurious Star Cruises’ SuperStar Gemini before we sailed the calm seas along the Straits of Malacca en route to Malaysia, Thailand, and back to the Lion City of Singapore.

I have always been enthralled by cruising. The motion of the seas and the exhilarating breeze tousling your hair bring about a natural high. Imagine the joy of discovering new places and cultures with your loved ones. When you are on a cruise ship, a sense of escape prevails as you’re totally cut off from the cares of life on land. There are no phones ringing, nothing to keep reminding you of work. You possess the freedom to break away from the hassles and stress of your business life where you are forced to make decisions all day long. Come to think of it, on a cruise, among the toughest decisions you might ever have to make is whether to have orange juice or apple cider in the morning.

Initially called "pleasure voyages," the first cruises were launched in the early 1800s. However, it was only in 1960 that the modern-day cruise industry began, following the demise of transatlantic ocean liner crossings. Today’s cruise concept has been perfected. Onboard the SuperStar Gemini, it’s freestyle cruising wherein the passengers are given greater freedom of choice. Dressing is more casual, with no rigid schedules, more flexibility and informality. Everything is prepaid, thus you can approximate how much you will spend for your vacation. You only unpack once you get onboard. Unlike before, cruising is no longer the exclusive playground of the retired elite. The industry today is vibrant and alive with passengers of every age and socio-economic background. Cruising is no longer the shipping business, but the hospitality industry.

SuperStar Gemini, at 19,093 gross tons, is a world-class cruise ship plying the waters of Asia with international and Asian dining, entertainment, and recreation facilities. Her facilities include a swimming pool, restaurant and bars, hair salon, spa, well-appointed karaoke rooms, and many more diversions that can cater to all types of passengers, young and old, singles and family members. She and her other five sister ships including the SuperStar Aries, SuperStar Leo, SuperStar Pisces, SuperStar Taurus, and SuperStar Virgo, belong to the fleet of Star Cruises, the best cruise operator in the Asia-Pacific. The ultimate goal is to have a fleet of 12 ships, one for each sign of the zodiac. From my experience of cruising aboard Star Cruises’ SuperStar Virgo a few years ago, I say that cruising is a microcosm of the best there is – an opulent, luxurious vessel where everything works and everyone just seems to be in the best mood possible. Thus, the return of this prodigal wanderlust to the high seas.

Ships are indeed romantic places, and they also provide a crime-free, trouble-free environment. Cruising is popular with newlyweds because it’s all-inclusive. Cruising is also not just for couples who want to be in a place where they’re guaranteed romance. Anyone who’s ever walked the deck of a ship at sunset or stood at the rail and gazed at the moon’s reflection shimmering on the water can understand today’s craving for passion at sea. Once the crew casts off the lines and the ship heads out to sea, ties with land-borne cares are severed. The vessel becomes a cocoon that encourages closeness. The lack of distraction creates a consummate setting for sharing your deepest thoughts and feelings.

If you feel a romantic evening isn’t truly complete without a superb meal, then opt for the SuperStar Gemini’s impressive menus in the Ocean Palace Restaurant that were created as sublime accompaniments to amour. Fine cuisine is an essential ingredient in any recipe for romance. If your idea of a wonderful evening consists of a Broadway play followed by a cabaret show, then bring your beloved to watch some of the best entertainment at sea in the Galaxy of Stars. Lavish costumes, first-rate dancers and crisp direction make for outstanding productions that will have you rocking the boat.

Cruising is for everybody. Unlike the hassles of transferring from planes, trains, buses, hotels, and what have you, cruising allows you the comfort of getting to your destination relaxed and rejuvenated, for sleeping in your cozy room is like being cradled in the arms of a nurturing mother – the SuperStar Gemini. You wake up each glorious morning to watch the sunrise, are pampered with the best of everything. There are activities and great entertainment for families, children, elderly folks, and even the physically challenged. The gym, sauna, swimming pools, Jacuzzi, and recreation facilities will keep you fit and trim. You can party all-night in the disco or treat yourself to a beauty regimen. You don’t even have to decide where to eat at night. The crew is like your own personal staff, which makes things easy. The world is at your feet. The choice is up to you.

Each time our ship neared the port of call (in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Krabi, Phuket, Langkawi and Singapore), my roommate Mel Martinez and I would run to our private balconies to enjoy the view. This adds another dimension to our home away from home. In the privacy of your very own balcony, you can dine "à la deck," dance or daydream, as the sea shows you some of the most beautiful scenes on earth, sky and water.

Besides virtually nonstop entertainment on board, you’ll find plenty of places to discover at port of calls that offer memorable experiences of the exotic cultures. Visit ancient temples, historical architecture and natural wonders. Lose yourself in the madding crowds as you shop for local arts and crafts, as well as savor the delectable local fare to complete the experience.

On the ship’s bridge, we had the pleasure to meet the ship’s Swedish Captain Lennart Jegerfalk and our fellow kababayans, the crew of Filipino seamen who are exemplary workers with very competent knowledge of the sea and their ship. As Vernon Prieto, Mel Martinez and I explored the exquisite SuperStar Gemini, we realized the many other reasons to take a journey aboard these luxury vessels on the sea.

Indeed, a cruise is a vacation. It is an antidote to the stress and strain of life ashore. It offers you a chance to relax and unwind in comfortable surroundings, with attentive service, good food, and a ship that changes the scenery for you. Sailing rekindles the romance of the early seafaring days. And if you grew up watching episodes of The Love Boat and always wanted to sail away with Captain Stubing and crew, then you must travel with Star Cruises. Why be land-bound when you can be cruise-bound? Come aboard, they’re expecting you.

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For details about Star Cruises, call Callie Lim Li Chuen at +630-3109-2680; fax +603-3109-2686; or e-mail lclim3@starcruises.com.my. Visit its website at www.starcruises.com.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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