Day 3 - All Aboard The Love Boat

Hong Kong Travel Blog

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All aboard the love boat...

Well, today was the day that we would start our 5 night cruise.  We were all quite excited and started the day off with Yum Cha at a fancy, yet surprisingly affordable Yum Cha restaurant with a great view over the harbour.  Whilst we were stuffing our faces with a variety of dumplings, congee and egg tarts, we saw the cruise boat pull into the harbour.  The Superstar Virgo was massive and we were quite impressed with the size of the ship - it was truly a magical sight.  We were quite excited as it was all about to become very real for us all.

The ship sailing/departure time was officially 6pm that evening and boarding commenced from 1pm.  I was quite intrigued with how the check-in process was going to be handled.

Foyer reception area
  I had done a tiny bit of reading about the ship and realised that the maximum capacity of the boat was 3000pax - at full capacity there are 2000 passengers with 1000 crew.  Therefore, I had no idea how they would check thousands of people onto the boat.  As it turned out, it is not too dissimilar to boarding a flight, however, we realised that obviously with such increased passenger size that we would need to excercise patience in the next few days.  

We checked out of the beautiful Langham Hotel with our luggage in tow and made the short walk to the cruise terminal where we would check in on our luggage and wait until we were allowed to check onto the ship.  The process of checking our baggage in was relatively painless, just had to wait in a long queue, but it wasn't too painful.

Entrance
  Checking in as a passenger onto the boat however took far longer.  This was compounded by the fact that the cruise staff were checking all visas required (China visa *2, and Vietnam visa).  We did see a few rather irate passengers who were informed that if they had not been issued with visas that they wouldnt even be allowed to board the cruise liner.  Needless to say, these passengers were quite irate.

After clearing customs and the immigration and cruise ship formalities, we were issued with our "cruise card" which we were to keep with us at all times during the cruise.  This would be our room key and our authority to charge costs such as food/entertainment/tour bookings to our room so that we would settle all costs at the conclusion of the cruise.

Band in the foyer
  At this point, we had to surrender our passports for customs to review and I guess to process.  Whilst I felt uncomfortable at the prospect of not having my passport on me (first rule of travelling!) this was to be the way that the cruise operates.  I guess it all makes sense - with 2000 passengers, in order to make it as efficient as possible for the immigration staff to process the visas, it would seem a bit ridiculous to make everyone wait in turn upon arrival.

Anyway, once we had left the actual terminal and the immigration formalities, off we were walking down the tunnel to the cruise ship - and once we reached the gangway, it was very much like the stereotypes that I have seen on the TV show "The Love Boat" - cruise staff were generally young, extremely enthusiastic, and full of smiles and welcomes - there was a three piece band playing music on the deck which we walked onto, there were giant furry animals and pirates and costumed themed characters ready to pose for photos (this would become a regular occurrence that we were to later find out was customary each time you left the boat on a shore excursion/tour).

  It was quite exciting and good fun for the kids travelling with their families to see so much activitiy going on.

Once on board, we were greeted with a welcome cocktail and we went in search of our cabins.  We had two two berth cabins for our family and had balconies as well so we could enjoy the cruise lifestyle.  We marvelled at the main entrance of the boat which was effectively the lobby.  I was surprised to find that the cruise ship was almost basically like taking a hotel and putting it on a boat.  There was so much ornate decoration everywhere, it really was quite amazing - a massive staircase that was most grand in the entrance way.  We then looked for how to get to our cabins - at first it was quite confusing until you got used to the layout of the boat.

  We found our cabins and were pleasantly surprised to see that our luggage was already waiting out the front of our door to greet us - this was so much like a hotel!  The cabins themselves were adjoining (which we had requested) and we were quite amazed to find that the size of the cabins, although small, were not as tiny and cramped as we had envisaged.  Even the bathroom and the toilet (both separate which was even more convenient) whilst small, were also liveable.  There was even a built in wardrobe!  The balcony was a nice little add on and we hoped we would have time to sit on the balcony during the course of the cruise to enjoy.

After we had excitedly checked out our room we went off to explore the rest of the cruise ship - we wandered around to check out the 9 restaurant options, the various pool areas, the helipad, the rock climbing wall, the outdoor golf area, the running track, the Lido theatre (where there were two live shows each night), the bar areas and the photo galleries where the photos were displayed each day.

Balcony room
  There were a couple of duty free shops as well, a beauty salon, gym, library, card room and very large lounge area which was turned into a live entertainment venue in the evening.

Later on in the afternoon before we set sail, we had to have a briefing on the safety aspects of the cruise and had to attend a briefing on the ship's deck so that we knew where to assemble in case of an emergency and how to use our life jackets.  This was quite amusing at first to see so many life jackets in one place.  We were shown all the emergency life boats and they assured us that there were enough boats and life jackets for everyone.

Following this, we set sail!  We then went to have dinner at one of the restaurants on board (took us a while to figure out which one we wanted to eat at).

Our room
  We were quite impressed at the variety of restaurants and were looking forward to checking out all of them (if we could - and I love food!) and seeing really if there was a possibility of managing to have up to the advertised 6 meals a day!!!

Each night when you returned to your room, there was a newsletter which was left for each cabin with the programme of activities for the next day, times of shows, times of events etc.  Very very organised - so you could basically decide to do as little or as much as you wanted and you could book for the tours the following day once we reached the destination.

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All aboard the love boat...
All aboard the love boat...
Foyer reception area
Foyer reception area
Entrance
Entrance
Band in the foyer
Band in the foyer
Balcony room
Balcony room
Our room
Our room
Bowls
Bowls
Kiddies ppool
Kiddies ppool
Helipad
Helipad
Basketball court
Basketball court
Main pool
Main pool
Card room
Card room
Library
Library
Putt putt golf
Putt putt golf
Gslaxy Lounge
Gslaxy Lounge
Safety briefing
Safety briefing