Happy Easter! Today we rejoice in the resurrection of the Lord, filled with new hope. It is also the day when we fulfill all the Lenten sacrifices we have offered and for me, that should have been to stop shopping, but I failed.

Failure started when I was invited on the maiden voyage of Star Cruise’s Superstar Virgo last month. The temptation of an unlimited luggage allowance was too much to pass up for a certified shopaholic like me.

Superstar Virgo’s maiden voyage was called “Jewels of the South China Sea.” We kicked off from Manila’s South Pier onward to Laoag, Kaohsiung in Taiwan, and Hong Kong over a six-day journey. Believe when I say I shopped in every single port-of-call and at the duty-free shopping on board.

The Always Famous group that travel guru Keren Pascual invited for Star Cruises was an interesting mix of beauty queens, media bigwigs, top models, fashion pillars, entertainment stars and famous entrepreneurs. We instantly gelled at the start of the cruise during the Welcome Cocktails, all wearing Luxe Pajama outfits.  We were also introduced to the new Star Cruises ambassadors – Ms. International 2016 Kylie Verzosa and LA Aguinaldo. We knew it was going to be an epic voyage filled with wonderful lasting memories.

Before retiring that first night, jazzy pop singer Markki Stroem performed for us at the Galaxy of Stars. The Star Cruises management was so impressed with Markki that his second performance was upgraded to the Lido Theater for all to watch.

We traveled overnight to our first stop, the port of Currimao in Laoag, where passengers could visit historical and cultural landmarks in the Ilocos Norte capital. Aside from Spanish colonial houses and Baroque churches, we also got to see the white sand beaches of Pagudpud. The historical UNESCO heritage sites in Vigan afforded the opportunity to shop for Ilocos blankets, finely woven placemats and table runners.

That evening, we ended up dancing in the club wearing our “Grease the Movie” outfits. The other themed affairs were “La La Land” and “In The Mood For Love.” With fashion icons and stylists on board, the costumes were all outstanding.

The second stop, Kaohsiung, was a revelation. Star Cruises president Ang Moo Lim noted that Filipinos on the cruise do not have to apply for a Taiwan visa on this leg. The foodies in the group enjoyed Taiwan’s finest street food, while history buffs marveled at a myriad of historical sites, temples, and museums. Most impressive was the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Temple with its giant standing Buddha and 7,200 Buddhas. At the temple on the way to the Standing Buddha, shop at the tiny stall selling prayer beads and lucky charms.

The final stop is a familiar haunt to all Pinoys. Hong Kong has always been a shopping mecca for us, and the cruise is perfect for this. Of course, the intelligentsia amongst us opted for the Basel Art Fair in Hong Kong.

A day was spent at sea as the Superstar Virgo headed back to Manila. There was no idle time either in between tours as we were treated to a slew of entertainment choices. Our lead Keren made sure we had spectacular activities like daily Zumba with instructor Robert Caguimbal, a Havaianas pool party, and an amazing fashion show featuring the Queen Collection of Rhett Eala. The show at the Grand Piazza had Bb. Pilipinas Universe Maxine Medina at the finale.

The ship’s Lido Theater features nightly live shows, and there are elegant gala cocktails at the Grand Piazza. Always Famous members like Robert and Millet Mananquil, Robby Mananquil and his fiancé Maxene Magalona and Tetta Agustin and Christian Baverely sat at the Captain’s Table.

Children are also in for a treat as well, with recreational activities like basketball, cooking demos, and swimming at the Parthenon Pool, which features a 100-meter mega slide alongside four Jacuzzis. Other onboard amenities include duty-free shops, a salon, library, fitness centers, jogging track, and spa that offers pampering services infused with Asian hospitality.

As the flagship of the Star Cruises fleet, the 13-storey superstar Virgo features 935 cabins that range from affordable staterooms to luxurious executive suites. The rates include an all-inclusive stay in one of deluxe oceanfront cabins and full-board meals (up to six a day), which can be enjoyed in three non-chargeable restaurants: The Pavilion Room, Genting Palace, and the Mediterranean Buffet. A total of 11 restaurants can be found on site including specialty diners serving Indian, Western, and Japanese buffets.

Eye Society, the premier eyewear boutique known for its wide collection of international designer brands, has an on-going promo to win free trips on Superstar Virgo. Every receipt worth P10,000 gives the customer a raffle ticket for a six-day, five-night cruise. Shop now because the promo ends in May, with the grand prize draw on June 21. Travel cruise dates are from June 22 to December 31, 2017.

To kick off the promo, Eye Society invited guests aboard the Superstar Virgo for a decadent four-course lunch at the Genting Palace. A special raffle was drawn onboard and winners won designer eyewear, and the luckiest winner was blogger Kathy Kenny Ngo, who won a cruise for two aboard the Superstar Virgo, all courtesy of Eye Society.

Thinline’s Frank Briones and Vicki Abary hosted the affair and introduced Andrea Manzano, Star Cruises’ AVP for Sales, as well as Farrah Rodriguez, Eye Society’s Marketing Head, to talk about the collaboration. For more information about Eye Society, visit www.eyesociety.com.ph and @EyeSocietyPH on Facebook and Instagram.

The last Star Cruises trip using the Manila Port is set on May 23. This means guests should expect a storm-free voyage as the six-day, five-night cruises are scheduled during our Philippine summer months. For inquiries on Star Cruises, call 836-6080 or email salesmanila@gentinghk.com. You may also book through any local travel agency or visit www.starcruises.com.

 

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