During my recent trip to Singapore, I made a three-night cruise on the Superstar Virgo of Star Cruises. This was in a jornalistic role as I was asked to write about the ship for Cruise & Ferry Info (see http://www.shippax.se/) - the article will be published in the November issue, I'm told. As with my visit to the Leisure World a few days previously, I was accompanied by Jonathan Boonzaier.
The Superstar Virgo was built by Meyer Werft and delivered in 1999. She is a fun-orientated ship, but of a very high quality in terms of construction, outfitting and operation. She very clearly demonstrates characteristics of other Meyer-built passenger vessels of her era - such as the ferries Athena, Kalypso and Silja Europa - and cruise ships ranging from P&O's Aurora to Disney's Disney Magic and Wonder. Intended mainly to make fairly short trips, she is, none-the-less, packed with a wide range of attractions to please a very broad diversity of tastes (also like a Baltic ferry).
I'd defy anyone to sail on the Superstar Virgo and not have a good time! Anyway, you can read much more about Star Cruises and the ship in November's Cruise & Ferry Info - but, for now, here are some photographs taken onboard.
An aerial view of Superstar Virgo at her Singapore berth (above left) and the atrium during embarkation.
Me with gold glassfibre horses in the atrium and on deck at sailing time (with a new generation MSC container ship emerging from my right temple).
Sunset in the Strait of Malacca - you can't beat a tropical sunset at sea.
Superstar Virgo's splendid observation lounge, above the bridge, giving panoramic views ahead.
The Italian restaurant 'Palazzo' contains Lucian Freud's famous painting of Kate Moss, which we viewed while tucking into dinner. This is the first time I've seen a serious contemporary artwork on a cruise ship.
Expanses of immaculately detailed teak decking on the wrap-around promenade. The steelwork is painted with murals, rather than being left plain white. For a 'fun ship', this is very effective.
The ship's wake (vibration-free even fully aft) and her builder's plate - she is a Mercedes of the sea.
Inboard, the layout is 'extravert' with side arcades - as on Athena, Kalypso and Silja Europa. The stairwells reminded me of the Disney ships.
Also, there is a wide range of Asian speciality restaurants - the Superstar Virgo and her (ex) fleetmate, Superstar Leo, being the first cruise ships to offer 'freestyle dining' - a concept inherited from Baltic ferries.
Me with various lovely members of restaurant staff. In both images, I am bending my legs to avoid towering too much.
With the hotel manager and Captain Magnus Gottberg (left) and in the show lounge (right).
The show lounge, located aft above the main restaurant (the ceiling of which rises towards the stern, making use of the void beneath the raked seats).
The very large and well-stocked library and the viewing gallery behind the navigation bridge.
More popular entertainments include a series of large casinos - this one African-themed (but photography banned within, alas) - and live music by a Philippino trio, who were really very good.
My favourite external feature was the water slide; it was necessary to try this about 20 times just to make sure it was as good as I thought it was the time before. The transparent section, overhanging the ship's side, was particularly wonderful. For relaxation on deck, however, there are plenty of steamer chairs.
A luxury stateroom - the preserve of casino high rollers.
One of the stateroom bathrooms and - at the other end of the scale - the ship's jail, located beneath an aft stairway on deck - enabling any aggressive hotheads to cool off. (On my trip, there were none, however.)
Jonathan and I in front of one of the Superstar Virgo's electric propulsion motors. The space was very quiet with no vibration whatsoever.
Having been told about what Baltic ferries are like, Jonathan did his best impression of a passenger on Viking Line's Cinderella (above left). The other images (above right and below) are taken onboard the Cinderella and show how uncannily accurate his impression is. (They are NOT aboard the Superstar Virgo - which is a demure and respectable ship. Besides, unlike Swedes and Finns, Asians gamble rather than drink for their kicks.)
A Hanjin container ship - one of a constant stream of vessels passed in the Strait of Malacca when en route back to Singapore.
Superstar Virgo back at her Singapore berth (left) and me at the bow when we berthed in Phuket.