Singaporebrides | Editors' Notes
Cruise to Tioman Island
Looking for short holiday ideas? Consider a scenic and relaxing cruise to the idyllic island paradise of Pulau Tioman. Tansey Tang discovers the host of leisure and entertainment aboard the floating resort of SuperStar Gemini, and the natural beauties of one of the world’s best coral reefs.
April was a busy month here at SingaporeBrides. We had almost 200 wedding gowns to shoot for the 2015 Spring/Summer Lookbook, and the New York Bridal Market and its gorgeous new collections to preview. Well, The Editor had the new designer collections to preview. But since she was busy in New York, lucky me got to go on a luxuriously relaxing cruise to the beautiful Tioman Island with Star Cruises.
It wasn’t difficult to locate the boarding area at Vivocity’s Habour Center—it was filled with families and couples waiting to board the popular floating resort. The friendly marketing team at Star Cruises ushered us into priority boarding along with the rest of the media group. The 50-tonne SuperStar Gemini was massive. A whopping 230 meters in length, and we soon got discovered just how long that was on our tour of that grand dame.
Our charming hostess made sure we knew how many ways there were to relax and enjoy ourselves on board the newly refurbished ocean liner. You could sing the latest tunes in the Observatory Karaoke Lounge while enjoying the sea views, play mahjong in the room dedicated to the game, and shop for international designer goods and duty free perfumes and liquor in China Duty Free. There were six different dining establishments with cuisine ranging from freshly grilled seafood to Western cuisine. After availing oneself of the six included meals on board though, one could always work off the kilos in the cruise’s gymnasium, or run a couple of laps around the jogging track. Or perhaps get one’s fat massaged off, in King Neptune’s Health Club’s spa and steam room? There’s even a hair salon to help you attain beachy waves as you lie and worship the sun on the ship’s expansive sun deck, or lounge in the three swimming pools or outdoor jacuzzi. Of course, there was the popular Star Club where you can get lucky in games of chance. The many leisure and entertainment opportunities would make the perfect mini-honeymoon for a couple to wind down after all the stress of planning a wedding, and cruise along to an idyllic beach destination. With travel, accommodation and eats taken care of, all you have to do on a cruise is pack in a full day of leisure before retiring to your floating honeymoon suite!
Our first night, we were treated to the exquisite tastes and impeccable service of Taipan, an elegant Chinese a la carte restaurant. Then the night’s entertainment extravaganza began in the elegant Stardust Lounge. Nestled into the richly upholstered lounge chairs, we beheld a glittering showcase of Brazilian samba. Flamboyant feathered headdresses and sexy costumes shook and gyrated to the lively rhythm in an intoxicating show. No wonder the show was titled Hot Hot Hot! When we thought things couldn’t get more exciting, out flowed a couple for a sensual, passionate ballroom dance. With movements as graceful as silk caressing a woman’s curves, they snapped and twirled and dipped their way across the stage to very appreciative applause.
I barely sighed over their exit of blazing dark eyes and flashing skirts before another couple walked on stage. They looked very different from the rest of the samba dance troupe; in fact, the stalwart giant of a man didn’t look like a dancer at all. His partner provocatively strode over to him in her high heels, and then I realized what part he played in the act. He was there for her to flip up and balance on, upside down, with one hand, on his face. That’s right. Perfectly controlled and graceful handstands while her blond tresses hung down and brushed his face. My jaw just remained open for the next three incredible minutes of their sexy gymnastic act as he continued to lift her and she kept waving her long legs high up in the air while holding impossible upside down poses to the seductive jazz of Me and Mrs Jones. I wish I had pictures for you to marvel along with me, but I was too dumbstruck from wondering what muscles he must have in his forehead to could hold a woman’s full weight. Please catch the show and be amazed yourself.
We got ourselves a couple of drinks at one of the cruise’s four bars, and headed up to the deck to further ponder the awe we had just experienced. Leaning on the rails and looking out at the inky sky and sea we were cruising past with its twinkling lights, we sort of forgot the question and simply relaxed. The night was heady with the salty scent of the sea, and music from the poolside bar floated on the breeze. It was a beautiful night for strolling the cruise’s deck, and we had a sunny day on the gorgeous Tioman Island to look forward to. I guess I was smiling incoherently, but my cocktail inhibited me from keeping the excitement in.
Morning dawned for us at 7am. Since I was already dragged out of bed, I told myself to enjoy the sunrise. It wasn’t hard. In fact, it was lovely to walk the near empty deck (hello, 7am) in the misty stillness of the morning. Silvery clouds veiled the blushing sky as the sun rose in gold and glory on the horizon. The sea rippled and shaded in hues of blue and lavender, fading into a dusky midnight at the distant islands. I couldn’t help but think the open deck with its alluring seascape would make a dreamy backdrop for a translucent veil to catch the breeze in an engagement or pre-wedding shoot. Later, I learned that many couples have taken beautiful pre-wedding photographs on board the cruise, locked in embrace and looking out over the top deck’s rails, while the sun highlighted the rosy glow of love on their faces.
We met with the rest of the media group for a glass-bottommed boat ride to see the coral and sea creatures around Tioman Island, one of the island activities organized by Star Cruises. Packed into a cute little vessel, all of us peered into the magnifying glass panel in the center of the boat. We coasted past coral and pointed excitedly at the occasional glimpse of fish. While it makes a great island activity if you don’t want to get wet, we were told that the best way to see Tioman Island’s reef was to either snorkel or dive. The cruise’s Activity Centre offers such destination tours and activities for the convenience of its passengers. The crystal clear blue waters and the colourful fish swimming up to the jetty for nibbles didn’t need to issue us with another invitation. We grabbed some snorkelling gear and followed our local guide to his favourite spot.
The experience was exquisite. The water was so clear, we could see every beautiful coral tendril flutter gently in the ocean current. Colourful tropical fish of all shapes and sizes swam by in schools and darted in and out of their coral homes. Some of them even swam right up to our noses, as if to give us a closer look at their shiny rainbow scales. Our guided swam effortlessly ahead, pointing out white-tip sharks circling the rocks, sea turtles gracefully skimming the sandy seabed, huge clams flashing their blue bodies, sea urchins and a big, slinky barracuda. We swam on and on for a little over an hour, soaking in the beautiful wonders of the coral reef.
We finally climbed back to the beach, exhilarated with the sheer beauty of it all. Strolling the pure white sands with its swaying palm trees, we went over every single sea creature we saw in that jewel of a reef. The bad sunburn I got snorkelling—still hasn’t faded three months on!—was well worth it, I think.
After another blissful night of snazzy dance entertainment, good food, games, and cocktails while watching the glittering skyline from our private balcony, it was time to bid the majestic SuperStar Gemini goodbye. I’m so thankful to the great people at Star Cruises for the delightful experience. If you’re looking for a relaxing honeymoon after the rush of wedding planning, or wanting to get in a few days of simply being together before tying the knot, SuperStar Gemini is homeported in Singapore till 31st October, offering five regular itineraries. Shorter retreats include a 3D2N cruise to historical Malacca, a 3D2N high seas cruise, and the 3D2N cruise to Tioman Island we were hosted on. For a longer escapade, there’s a 4D3N cruise to Kuantan and island paradise Pulau Redang, and a 4D3N cruise to Penang and Langkawi. A 6D5N special holiday cruise to Penang, Phuket and Krabi is also a perfect summer retreat.
Many thanks to Star Cruises for inviting us on this media familiarisation cruise.
Star Cruises is Asia Pacific’s leading cruise line. Book a cruise at www. gentingtravel.starcruises.com, or contact them at +(65) 6223 0002 (9am to 6pm, Mon-Sun).
Image credits: Second to twelfth images in post courtesy of Star Cruises. Other images are author’s own.