Candy in the sun

In Photo: Star Cruises President Ang Moo Lim (center) with Senior Vice President Michael Goh and Assistant Vice President for Sales Andrea Solis Manzano

column-Rodel Alzona-a differen viewFunny how time flies.  Every second to every hour and moving from the days to the months, time goes by in a blink of an eye.

The Christmas season, no matter how long it is being celebrated here in the country, went by so quickly for me.  A couple of weeks ago, people flocked to the Sinulog Festival in Cebu. And yesterday was the Chinese New Year celebration.

And then in a few more days, it will be Valentine’s Day.  Yes, we are approaching that time of the year here in the country when my friends and me jokingly predict earthquake tremors being felt in Pasig City, Pasay City and Santa Mesa in Manila.

Then before we know it, we will be welcoming summer in the country.  You are right. It is that time of the year when kids celebrate days when there are no more pencils, no more books and no more teachers’ dirty looks.

Summer is also a time when people like me, if and when there is time and extra budget, go to stroll along the beach all the way to the malls while ogling at all the pretty women and shaking our heads because we are so physically out of shape.

Yup, in a few weeks, it will be summer here in the country, another fun time of the year.  If you have the means and your work schedule allows you, it is a time to travel and enjoy places new and old with friends, loved one and family.

Speaking of travel, this March Star Cruises, the leading cruise line in the Asia-Pacific region, will make its first home-port deployment in the country with its SuperStar Virgo.

For close to two months, Superstar Virgo will be offering Filipinos the chance to cruise from Manila to Laoag, and all the way to Kaohsiung in Taiwan, Hong Kong and back to Manila over six days.

Trust me, this is very exciting news.  In 2014 I had the privileged to be invited to a four-day cruise from Singapore to Penang and Port Klang in Malaysia at Star Cruise’s SuperStar Gemini.

It was an unbelievable experience for me.  The cruise ship was like a humongous mall, park and events venue rolled into one.

There were a gazillion activities to fill your days while traveling the seas.  There was never a dull moment.  Food was overflowing with buffets at every meal and more food in between.  There were also world-class performances at night.

It was in SuperStar Gemini when I watched the Korean kitchen comedy play Cookin’ Nanta, more than a year before it was staged here in the Philippines.

Then there were the sights and cultural immersion I experienced in going to places I have never been before. It is really true that some of the best education can be found outside the four walls of a classroom.

I do believe it will be the same experience for those who will take the SuperStar Virgo cruise. You will be waving good-bye to all the traffic, chaos and stress of the city, and saying hello to six days of fun and wonderful moments to remember.

SuperStar Virgo is the flagship of the Star Cruises fleet in Asia.  From its Grand Plaza, which acts as its main lobby, SuperStar Virgo is a 13-story luxury that is waiting to pamper its passengers.

Look, it has an outdoor swimming pool with a 100-meter mega slide, Jacuzzi, minigolf, basketball grounds, gym, jogging area, massage, and sauna.  It has a karaoke, hairdressing salon, duty-free shops, video arcade and game rooms.  And if you are wondering, yes, they also provide Wi-fi access.

As for food, those onboard are assured of six meals daily including sumptuous breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with morning and afternoon tea, and late-night snack.  The cruise ship has 10 restaurants and bars, which offer a wide range of international dishes.

For entertainment, the cruise will have the 1001 Nights production, which will include a lot of highly creative visuals, music, dance and gravity-defying acts.  It has Memory Lane, a production on Hollywood circa 1950s with a cast of world-class singers and dancers.  International illusionist Rick Green is also performing onboard.  And if you are 18 years old and above, there is the after-dark show Blonde Bombshells.

You could also never go wrong with its port stops.  Laoag is a walk through history with its Spanish-era architecture. There are also visit to churches and its white sand beaches.

Kaohsiung offers a wide range of attractions, including museums, temples, and a lot of shopping and dining experiences.  Trust me, Taiwan is such a beautiful place that should be explored over and over again.  Before I forget, Star Cruises has made the Taiwan stop visa free.

The last port call is in Hong Kong, which I practically do not need to tell more.  It is already a popular destination and a quick getaway for Filipinos.

The Philippine government, specifically the Department of Tourism, wants the country to become and international cruise destination. Star Cruises President Ang Moo Lim said it is time they brought their cruise, which has already served more than 25 million people, to the country.

These are, indeed, special times for travel and tourism, when there is a concerted effort between the  government and the private sector to bring cruise travel to the country.

Closing time

For close to three years of this column and two years as editor of this section, we worked our butts off and partied like it was 1999.  We start with manic Mondays, and by Fridays we were in love when we look at the pages we have created for the week.

Thank you very much again to our Publisher T. Anthony C. Cabangon and Editor n Chief Jun Vallecera for this wonderful opportunity.

My name is not Rio, but I will probably dance in the sand for a little while. Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

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