LEISURE Shows to watch, games to play, restaurants serving international cuisines, a spa, a casino, a water slide… you are spoilt for choice on the SuperStar Virgo

A shimmering mermaid waves at me. Shirtless young men with sculpted bodies whisk me away for photographs. More creatures, resembling stuffed toys prance around me, engulfing me in bear hugs before I enter the Grand Piazza. Inside, a flurry of people fuss over me, and a waiter hands me a glass of champagne. I like being fussed over and on board the SuperStar Virgo I revel in it.

The Grand Piazza is the lobby of the ship — a meeting point for those who get lost in the many passages and decks that this big, beautiful lady holds within her. It spells opulence with its marble floor, elegant woodwork, gold-plated horse sculptures and expensive upholstery. You see holiday makers, casino addicts, and squealing children running amok. Besides, there are honeymooners stuck to each other like advertisements for instant glue. Find a room, people! They don't, and since the PDA continues I head to my cabin on deck 9 and plonk myself on the balcony overlooking the sea. There's a star-lit sky, a full moon, and the splashing sound of the inviting waters… enough inspiration for even a pragmatic soul like me to turn into a romantic poet and write ballads and sonnets describing the astounding looks of my (non-existent) significant other! But honestly, when you are aboard the Virgo, pondering in solitude could seem like a criminal waste of time. There are shows to watch, games to play, restaurants to binge at, a spa to get pampered, a library to satiate the bookworm in you, a crowded casino and an electric blue pool to chill out in. The only task is to decide where you want to head to, first.

I am with a group of 12 other journalists who have been meticulously taking down notes and clicking photographs all day long. But now, it's time to party. So in go the pens and notebooks and out come the peep toes and LBDs. We have two nights on this cruise on the high seas to discover Virgo's various attractions. Dinner tonight is at Palazzo, the Italian fine dining restaurant. After several helpings of ravioli, veal steak, pasta and wine, we proceed to the show that's on at The Lido. ‘The Hot Stripper Show' is open only to those aged above 18. We troop in and park ourselves in our assigned seats. I order a delicious hot chocolate but soon realise it isn't the right choice of beverage for a show like this. There are two words to describe it — risqué and entertaining.

The show ends way past midnight. Most of us are heavy-lidded by now. It's embarrassing to fall asleep so early when the others are still bouncing around like spring bunnies. Trying to keep pace with them, we step into Celebrity, the lounge bar. Akon and Taio Cruz are blaring out of the speakers. Young boys and girls groove energetically to the music. The younger lot don't give up, do they? We decide to show them what we can do and make our way to the centre of the room to shake a leg. Take that! Only to discover 10 minutes later that two men from our group have passed out on a couch. Signal for us to be back in our cabins and catch up on some sleep. My watch shows 2.30 a.m. as I snuggle into bed. Only now do I feel the mighty ship bob slightly. It gently rocks me to sleep.

The shrieking of the phone jolts me out of my slumber. One of the more energetic journalists from the group is on the line. “Get up, yaar. Let's attend the Zumba class,” she screeches. It's 7 a.m. and I am on my feet. An hour later, I find myself at Mediterranean Terrace in the queue for breakfast. It provides a fascinating view of the sea, apart from an interesting spread of international cuisines.

The itinerary for the day informs me that we are to set out on a tour of the vessel. Two hours later, we're still exploring new facets such as an observatory deck, a gym and a track for jogging. Of course, we need none of the work-out because a tour of the Virgo on foot is more than sufficient exercise. The hefty, but elegant liner, measures 268 metres long and 32 metres wide, with a gross tonnage of 76,800, and a capacity to take 1,870 passengers on board.

Up next is an appointment with the Captain at the bridge. We expect to meet a stern-faced bearded man, a la Captain Haddock, swearing and shouting instructions to his crew. The door opens and what we witness is a large space with high tech screens and a few men dressed in crisp white uniform. The captain, a tall clean-shaven man with a warm smile, shows us around and stylishly moves a joystick which he tells us has replaced the helm these days.

Post-lunch I head to the spa to indulge in some foot reflexology. The next few hours are spent alternating between the warm and frothy outdoor Jacuzzi and plunging into the cool waters of the swimming pool. Also, recommended is a ride down the fairly high water slide. For a fleeting moment, I feel I am going to fall straight into the deep dark sea as one portion of the blue slide is transparent and projects outside the ship, providing a view of the rippling water far below. After all the squealing and splashing, it's time to present our genteel side and convene at Bella Vista for a formal dinner.

There is still so much to do on board. We've been so busy that none of us has had the time to fill our shopping bags at the duty-free store. It appears that we are in for another late night event — The Nikita Show. What's it about? Well… let's just leave that to your imagination. It's 1 a.m. now. In less than 10 hours SuperStar Virgo will be docking at the Singapore harbour. Finally, it's time to do the inevitable — sit back and admire the sea and the endless sky. So we huddle together at the Taverna bar, on the top deck, and chat through the night, all the while enjoying the view.

Two fabulous days at sea and I have champagne cramps (from holding those crystal flutes) and dark circles after all the partying. My weighing scale mocks me. But I am not complaining. They are definitely signs of a good holiday!

(The writer was on the SuperStar Virgo at the invitation of Star Cruise)

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Priyadarshini PaitandyJune 28, 2012