“Genting Cruise Lines is always looking for new and innovative ways to heighten our guest experience and open up fresh and exciting destinations for our passengers,” said Mr Kent Zhu, President of Genting Cruise Lines.
Genting Cruise Lines, which StarCruise is part of, now offers a new destination for her latest four-night round-trip cruise itineraries. The Gaya Travel team were honoured to be part of the maiden voyage of StarCruise’s largest liner Super Star Libra to Macleod Island, Myanmar on 3 November 2017.
Genting Cruise Lines is teaming up with Myanmar company, Tint Tint Myanmar Group to help create the infrastructure on MacLeod Island to kickoff Myanmar’s journey to become a worldwide cruise destination. MacLeod Island is a secluded paradise located within the Myeik Archipelago in southern Myanmar, listed as one of the top ten countries to visit in 2017 by Lonely Planet.
Our voyage included stops in Phuket, MacLeod Island and Penang. With SuperStar Libra’s current triple homeport deployment, travellers have the convenience and flexibility to choose their embarkation location from any one of three locations: Kuala Lumpur (via Port Klang), Penang or Phuket, to start their unforgettable round-trip cruise journey.
Day 1 (1 November 2017) – Check in Port Klang
Travellers are recommended to come early to allow ample time for the checking in process since the ship accommodates up to 1,480 passengers at one time. We had lunch and attended the mandatory Passenger Safety Drill before retreating to our respective cabins. After a short rest, we attended a sail away party followed by a networking session. Our first dinner was a Fisherman Themed Dinner, with barbeque and massive selection of food and desserts!
Day 2 (2 November 2017) – Phuket
Our morning activities on the second day started with a self-guided ship tour where we visited three different types of accommodations, followed by telematches among media representatives and travel agents who were invited to this maiden voyage. We disembarked at Patong Beach, Phuket at 1:00 p.m. and returned to the ship at around 6:00 p.m. We spent roughly five hours in Phuket and shared a clean and comfortable minivan among nine of us and paid THB100 each for a three-hour ride. There are many taxi drivers offering their services at the jetty, so travellers should bargain for a good deal.
Since there are many attractions in Phuket, travellers need to research first on where they would like to go in Phuket. During the three hours in Phuket, we only had time to do some light souvenir shopping. When we asked our driver for recommendation, he took us to a snack supermarket called Pornthip that has a big selection of certified halal local snacks, a t-shirt factory outlet and a jewellery shop. He later dropped us off at Bangla Road, a famous shopping street in Patong Beach. We rounded off our Phuket stop with a foot massage before returning to the ship.
Those who enjoy water sports, there is also a wide choice of activities including yachting, sailing, jet skiing, parasailing and deep-sea fishing.
Day 3 (3 November 2017) – Macleod Island
We had an early start because this was the day when the Memorandum of Understanding being signed between Genting Cruise Lines and Tint Tint Myanmar Group. After completing the formalities, we disembarked the ship at 9:30 a.m. to experience Myanmar hospitality. Passengers were given options and they need to choose one activity on what they would like to do on Macleod island prior to the cruise: diving (diving licence required), snorkelling by the beach, or trekking up the highest peak of Macleod Island for a bird’s eye view of the place. Naturally, we picked snorkelling. After a day of fun on the white sandy beach and clear blue sea, we returned to the ship at 3:00 p.m.
Macleod Island is a private island with only one resort: the Myanmar Andaman Resort. There are no other inhabitants except for the resort’s staff and their families on the island. Currently the resort is receiving mainly European guests who travelled to Macleod Island by land. If you are lucky, you could even catch the glimpse of the elusive sea gypsies going about their daily lives.
We attended the Gala Cocktail Party at 6:00 p.m. During the event, we were introduced to the ship management (headed by the Captain of the Ship) and entertained by the performance of the cruise staff. The party then followed by the Gala Dinner at Spices Restaurant. The Gala Dinner is a semi-formal sit-down dinner where we savoured marvellous dishes while being entertained by the restaurant staff.
Day 4 (4 November 2017) – Penang
Every Malaysian knows that Penang is a food haven, so our five-hour time limit to enjoy Penang would be best spent on food hunting! This was exactly what we did despite the wet weather – it was raining the whole time when we were in Penang. Our first stop in Penang was Tourism Malaysia Information Centre, located at the Swettenham Pier Terminal exit. Upon suggestions by the nice officer, we boarded the free Central Area Transit (CAT) Bus to get around Penang.
Our first stop was at the newly renovated Chowrasta Market to find local pickled fruits that Penang is famous for. After purchasing what we needed, we walked a short distance and headed to Lebuh Keng Kwee, where the Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul and Left Hand Char Kuay Teow are located. Once we were satiated by those two iconic Penang delicacies, we crossed the road and had a hearty spicy beef soup at Sup Hameed, another Penang gastronomic institution. We were planning to head to Deen Maju Nasi Kandar at Jalan Gurdwara, but looking at the weather and time, we decided to forego the plan and returned to the ship early instead. It was a good decision because we could see the water level was rising as we made our way back to the pier. We later learned that Penang was hit by a flash flood and some areas were badly damaged due to landslides. Penang turned out to be the most fun stop during this trip, so much so that the rain did no damper our spirits at all!
We skipped dinner on the ship since we were too full from our Penang excursion. We had a banana themed farewell party later in the night where everything banana were served.
Day 5 (5 November 2017) – Port Klang
This was the last day of our voyage and we were coming home! After breakfast we headed back to our room for our final packing before disembarking at Port Klang around 10:30 a.m. All in all, it was indeed a fun-filled cruise that we recommend all travellers to give it a try!
Good to Know
1. Malaysian visitors are required to have visa to enter Myanmar, hence we were required to submit the required forms and two pieces of passport photos (white background) upon checking in.
2. Do not bring sharp objects and other hazardous items on board the cruise ship, as luggage and bags are subjected to scanning and security.
3. For sanitary reasons, freshly prepared food and cut fruits are not allowed on board. Commercially packed ones are allowed.
4. For Muslim travellers, do bring qibla compass as internet connectivity might be intermittent or not available at all. Anyway, Wi-Fi is available, but is chargeable.
5. The commodes are not integrated with bidet sprayers or hoses.
6. Bring travel adaptor as the ship is fitted with 2-pin plugs.
7. Pack a sweater as it is quite chilly on board.
8. Pack fuss free clothing.
9. Don’t forget to bring medications!
10. Your room key is your life! Hence it is a good idea to bring along a lanyard with a card holder and wear them wherever you go. You will need the card to enter the restaurants on board, during boarding and disembarking the ship, just to name a few.
11. Refer to “Star Navigator”, the daily newsletter given to passengers so that they can plan their activities on board the ship.
12. Wear a wristwatch since timing on the ship follows the ‘ship’s time’, which specifically means Malaysian time, throughout the journey. Do not rely the watch on your smartphones because they are bound to automatically change as they enter different time zones.