Right after Christmas, we embarked on our first ever cruise; for me as well as J and K. We already booked the trip a few months ago and we enjoyed a promotional offer of buy 2 free 1.
The SuperStar Gemini has stopovers in Phuket and Langkawi. It starts and ends in Port Klang. The highest deck of Gemini is 12. It can accommodate about 1,500 people.
Nine of us on this trip including my parents-in-law and sister-in-lawâ€™s family.
- Upon check-in, each passenger is given an access card. This is the most important card during your entire trip. It acts as room key, access to meals, embarkation and disembarkation card, and pay card. Taking the access card with you while youâ€™re on the ship is key.
- When boarding, passport is given to one of the crew members for safekeeping and immigration clearance in Phuket. Itâ€™s advisable to make a photocopy of your passport for your stopover in Phuket. We were not aware of this and we didnâ€™t prepare for this. But you can get your passport photocopy from Reception Counter on Deck 7 at no costs. To get this on someoneâ€™s behalf, you need to produce the personâ€™s access card. I got the photocopies at 10 pm plus and there was no people. You need to produce access cards but the staff is kind enough to let me have photocopies of those I don’t have access cards for. Passport will be returned to you on the day before disembarkation.
- Each day every cabin is given a copy of the latest copy of The Star Navigator, a daily bulletin that takes you through entertainment, dining and other activities onboard. Read carefully as the bulletin contains important information that can make your cruise hassle-free.
Day 1: December 26
On the first day, we reach the port about 2 hours before the closing time. We park our car at Boustead Cruise Centre. It’s an open car park with 24 hours security (thatâ€™s what I was told). A flat rate of RM20 per entry for SuperStar Gemini guests. You just tell the guard that you’re taking the cruise and instead of being charged by the hours, you’ll be charged per entry for overnight parking.
Check in, board the ship after immigration and customs. We forget to do online check-in as we miss the 24 hours deadline. To do online check-in, you have to do it 7 days before departure date and must not be less than 24 hours. Not sure how much time we can save if we do online check-in first.
We are assigned to cabins on Deck 5. During booking, we requested to have cabins next to each other. Sure enough we got what we want. 3 persons in one cabin.
Immediately after we board, I ask one of the crew members whatâ€™s next. She tells me we could go for lunch. Without any delay, after we put our luggage, we picked one of the venues based on the newsletter given for lunch. We have our first inclusive meal at Bella Vista Western Restaurant on Deck 9 Aft. This is the only restaurant with ala carte menu on the Gemini cruise.
Every guest must go through this once. Our safety briefing is scheduled at 3:30 pm at respective assembly station. The assembly station is stated on the access card. Our assembly station is B. Everyone is accounted for and no one is allowed to skip this. We are taught what we could do during an emergency. And how to wear a life-jacket.
There is a tour information at Stardust Lounge on Deck 10 but we miss it. Instead we are at the KTV Observatory after making a round on the open deck on Decks 11 and 12. At the KTV, we enjoy a free 5-minute neck and shoulder massage that is supposed to be a pre-sale to a full-blown massage. To karaoke, you need to order a drink. Only then will you be given a microphone. Otherwise you’re free to laze around at the KTV lounge watching MTV.
If youâ€™re into gambling, the casino is located next to Stardust Lounge.
For dinner, we try the Chinese restaurant called Dynasty Restaurant. The only restaurant that serves pork. Overall, the food is excellent. We have pork belly, chicken, fish, and more. I find out later that this is the most crowded restaurant. To dine, you might have to go early. If it gets crowded, you can queue up to get a number and an estimate time that you can dine is given. As for us, we get a queue number and the waiting time is one hour.
The entertainment of first night is a magic show by James Long. The whole show is performed by the magician and his female partner. It is professionally choreographed and the show is stunning. The show is at Stardust Lounge and it lasts for about 45 minutes.
Stardust Lounge is the place of happenings as most of the entertaining and activities happen here. You’ll have to come here quite often.
On the night before the disembarkation to Phuket, you need to get your assembly time from the Reception Counter. Guests will be assembled in batches (3 batches by half an hour’s difference.) for a tender boat to Phuket Jetty. This is due to fact that the ship is not able to dock as the water level was not deep enough at Patong Beach jetty.
As for Langkawi there’s no need to do this as the ship is docked at the jetty.
Day 2: December 27
We have breakfast at Mariners Restaurant on Deck 9. The buffet spread was wide. From local to western: nasi lemak, pancakes, porridge, sausages, omelette, fruits, yogurt, toast, coffee, tea.
After breakfast, we walk around on open deck on Deck 11. We take some nice and breathtaking photos. In fact, photo taking is one of the most popular activities onboard. Here are some of the photos we’ve snapped.
Then we go for free demonstration of fruit carving and cooking.
After having a rest in the cabin, we have lunch at Dynasty Restaurant once again. Again, great spread of buffet: roast duck, stewed pork trotter, fish.
In the afternoon, we prepare to disembark in Patong Beach, Phuket. To do so, we need to assemble at Stardust Lounge based on the allocated assembly time. If you want, you can gather earlier than scheduled time as queue number will be given to you when you reach the assembly station. Passengers will be called by batches based on queue numbers. Last tender boat back to the ship is 10:30 pm ship’s time (Malaysian time). The tender boat is available every 30 minutes until 10:30 pm. Tender boats take about 10 minutes to reach Patong jetty from the ship.
We don’t arrange for any transport as we plan to walk around Patong Beach. In case you change mind, fret not as there are many transport service providers readily available in Patong Beach.
While in Patong Beach, we walk to Jungceylon Mall via Bangla Road by following a map taken from a hotel. The walk was about half an hour non stop. We bought some dried jackfruit and Thai instant noodles at Big C Supermarket from the mall.
After that, we have dinner outside the mall which I think is cheaper than the restaurants in the mall. The dinner cost around 1300 baht which includes squid, tom yum, green curry chicken. Since my mother-in-law is tired after the walk from the beach, we take a tuk tuk back to jetty. We pay 300 baht for 9 people for the ride.
Entertainment of second night is a show called Fabulous Chan. Music and dance and comedy. The performance has some mild obscene elements that might not be suitable for young children. The show lasts about 40 minutes.
The second entertainment of the night: The Crew: A Crew Talent Show. A performance by crew members of Gemini. Singing, dancing, and funny acts. Followed by Midnight Bazaar Sale at Hot Spot Duty Free.
We have supper at Mariners Restaurant. Not as wide as the morning spread. Supper starts at 11 pm.
Day 3: December 28
We have breakfast at Dynasty Restaurant. Again the queue is strangely long. The queuing system is removed this time due to complaints. Itâ€™s so crowded thereâ€™s no table that can sit all 9 of us. We have to split and share table. Thereâ€™s not much choice for breakfast but enough to fill up the stomach.
At around 11 am, we dock at Genting Cruise Lines Jetty in Langkawi. All vehicles are not allowed into the compound of the jetty. Passengers have to walk about 400m to get transport outside the gate. The walkway is not covered and it can get very hot on a good day and wet on a rainy day. We have arranged for private transportation up front and the driver is already waiting for us when we reach. The van (a Nissan Urvan) we rent can fit 11 passengers. After telling him about where we want to go within the given time (4-5 hours), the driver arrange the itinerary in his head and here we go on our tour in Langkawi. My first time here. So are J and K.
We start off with Pantai Pasir Hitam.As the name suggests, some of the sand of this beach is black.
Then Pantai Tanjung Rhu. Fine sand and clean beach.
Followed by Galeri Perdana. 3 blocks of 2 floors each. It houses Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamadâ€™s gifts, souvenirs, paintings, cars, keris given by people from all over the world. Entrance fees RM5 for adults. Children under 12 and senior citizens RM3. We spend about one hour at the gallery.
We then have lunch at a restaurant called Teo Seafood Restaurant in Kuah. The fish is super fresh and tender.
After lunch we go to Dataran Lang. The weather is hot but excellent for photography.
We end our Langkawi tour with shopping at Teow Soon Huat Duty Free Shop. I am told Ritter Sport chocolates are the cheapest in Langkawi. We also buy some Toblerone.
On the way back to jetty, the driver takes us to have a glimpse of the worldâ€™s infamous Jho Lowâ€™s yacht, Equanimity, which is docked at Royal Navy Base.
We are back to Genting Cruise Lines Jetty and board the ship. The jetty is about 20 minutes from Kuah.
On the last night of the cruise, we have dinner at Oceana Restaurant, an open air restaurant. That night, the star of the evening is lobsters. Each passenger is limited to half a lobster. Again access card is needed to claim your lobster. Besides lobsters, thereâ€™s really nothing much. The buffet spread here is the thinnest I find on the cruise. You even have to pay for the coffee. The only available drink is plain water.
We watch Circus performance at Stardust Lounge. Followed by a farewell party and performance by Geminiâ€™s management staff and employees. The performance ends the evening with a disco dance along session with guests.
Day 4: December 29
Breakfast is especially crowded around 8 plus.
Today is the last day of the cruise and itâ€™s time to go home. We gather at Stardust Lounge to disembark at 9:30 am. Up to this point I must say that the crowd control by the crew is well planned and perfectly executed. As what happened in Phuket and Langkawi. But for the last dayâ€™s embarkation at Boustead Cruise Centre, the waiting time is too long. We wait for about 2 hours before we are allowed to disembark. I believe it would have been better if the passengers are divided into batches.
Before alighting the ship, we are held up by the crew members upon swiping our access cards. We are pulled aside and are told we have not paid our gratuity taxes. We are clueless about them. The crew tells us we have to pay RM180 per person (RM60/night/person). Star Cruises should have reminded us about this tax on the last night of the cruise in their daily bulletin, The Star Navigator. Later, we find out that the onboard gratuity tax is mentioned in the fine print of the Reservation Slip which I believe not many people will read. The gratuity will be charged onboard to the passengerâ€™s account which must be paid before leaving the ship. Thereâ€™s also lack of information on this on the website of Star Cruises.
My Review of Star Cruises SuperStar Gemini
This is my first time on cruise. Overall the experience is good. Gemini could be old but it’s well maintained and clean. The food is enough to go around (In fact, if you’re not careful, you tend to overeat!) even though the queue at some restaurant could be long. Enough activities to keep you occupied and entertained. The crew members are from different countries and they’re friendly and helpful.
My only gripes are long waiting time of disembarkation on the last day and the gratuity snag. The management of the cruise needs to make it clearer about the gratuity and remind the passengers that they have to pay before they leave the cruise.