Explore Penang and Langkawi by traveling on a cruise ship!
If you’re like me, then you probably also have the misconception that cruises are trips reserved for the oldies. Fast forward to today—after a four-day getaway—and my opinion has definitely changed: Cruising is not only for your parents who have saved up money to travel after retirement, it’s also for us younger ones, yes, even millennials, who love to travel, unwind, binge eat, and party!
If you’re looking for a fun cruise to book—and one that doesn’t venture too far from the Philippines—Super Star Gemini, one of Star Cruises’ vessels, sails from Singapore, travels through the Malacca Strait, and stops in Malaysia’s beautiful island destinations. I myself went on this trip and we stopped at Penang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Langkawi, an island with an abundance of flora and fauna. But it wasn’t just these tourist destinations that were the highlights of the trip; it was the whole experience from boarding the boat, the shows and parties aboard, the food, and basically everything else in between. Here’s what happened on my journey onboard the Super Star Gemini!
Coming from an early flight, an unfortunate airplane seat, and virtually no sleep, I already had a bad case of hangriness that my makeup couldn’t hide. But when we arrived at Dynasty Restaurant on the Super Star Gemini, they were serving Chinese favorites buffet-style! This immediately satisfied my hunger and set the mood for the rest of the journey.
Before anything else, though, our first agenda for the day was to join the emergency drill. Just in case something went wrong (knock on wood!), at least we’d know where to go and how to put on our life jackets—a must on a ship, of course.
We then toured the different rooms and amenities available on the ship. Depending on your travel and budget plans, you could opt for a room without a view, with a view, or even with a balcony. I was assigned to stay in one of the Superior Oceanview Staterooms, which was equipped with a comfortable bed, an equally cozy duvet, a flat screen TV, a wardrobe closet, a vanity table, and my favorite part of the room, a seating area with the ocean view.
If you enjoy using the amenities (like I do!), you could enjoy an afternoon in a hot tub, swim in one of the three pool areas, break a sweat in the gym, sing your heart out in the karaoke bar, shop in the duty-free center, or eat to your heart’s content at the all-you-can-eat restaurants.
Most cruise packages include free access to any of the buffet restaurants on board. Here on the Gemini, you can pick from Mariners (Asian and Western cuisine), Oceana (al fresco dining on the top deck serving grilled dishes with vegetarian options), Bella Vista (intercontinental cuisine), and Dynasty (Chinese cuisine) depending on what you feel like eating. Just note: There are other dining options if you’d rather have an a la carte meal, but it might not be included in the package.
With all these options, you really won’t run out of things to do! (Your cruise fare includes most of the variety shows, and the use of the amenities; however, some of the shows charge a minimal fee.)
That evening, we capped off our first night with a special performance by Kyla, Asia’s Queen of RnB, who wowed the crowd with her soulful voice.
George Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with well-preserved historical buildings and pre-second World War houses and shop houses. Our first stop was Chew Jetty, named after the Chew Clan and famous for their wooden homes on stilts. If you keep walking until the end of the jetty, you get a panoramic view of the port and the different islands in the distance.
We made our way to Lebuh Armenian afterwards, and found one of Ernest Zacharevic’s (who was commissioned by the Penang Municipal Council to create several large scale murals) iconic street art murals. Naturally, we had to stop for a photo op, but as our group continued walking, I noticed that George Town was actually filled to the brim with artistic murals!
Our next stop was Khoo Kongsi, a clan house elaborately decorated with murals and statues. I swear every inch of this architectural masterpiece will leave you in awe!
We got back to the ship exhausted and partly wet from the rain, but our night didn’t end there. We attended a variety show where the crew showed off their hidden talents, and a neon party afterwards. Of course, only until we realized we were waking up at 6 AM the next day!
Our tour package in Langkawi took us to the Kilim Geoforest Park. We traveled along the Kilim River on a speedboat, and reveled at the mangrove forests and huge limestones surrounding us.
We stopped by a floating fish farm where you could see tuna, stingrays, eels, and sea bass up close. It was a little saddening to see these wild creatures enclosed in tight spaces, but it was quite interesting to be able to touch some of them.
We were then taken to the Eagle Square where thousands of Brahminy Kite Eagles swarmed the area. Let me tell you, it was a challenge to get a clear photo of these fast-moving birds!
Our lunch was served at a floating restaurant called Hole in the Wall. They served us the freshest fish and shrimps that they could get their hands on, and it was delicious!
On each cruise trip, the Gala Dinner is always scheduled on the last night of the cruise. So as soon as we got back to the ship, we started to prep for a long night filled with festivities.
What they served on the gala dinner was incredible! The best one for me, though, was the Wasabi Prawn Salad that had me hooked after the first bite.
The dinner was followed by two shows: The Queen of Hearts, and the Marionettes (adult show). There’s no doubt that the entertainment crew aboard are hardworking and creative. Just take a look at their over-the-top props and artistic costumes!
On our last day, we had a Bridge tour with the captain, who also gave us a short introduction on how the whole ship operates. It is in the Bridge where you can see how they navigate and propel the ship to make sure it doesn’t hit other boats.
Before we knew it, it was time to disembark the Gemini. Trying out this alternative to traveling may not be your first priority, but with so many activities onboard (and off!) that will please varied interests, plus space enough for everyone (765 cabins in total and a capacity of 1,530) I would definitely recommend it for barkada trips or maybe even your (upcoming) honeymoon.
Crew show, and all other activities onboard are free. The Neon Party, Marionnette Show charged a minimal fee.
Star Cruises offers different routes that you can choose from. Visit their website here.