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  #81  
Old July 20th, 2007, 08:05 PM
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BACK YET? I didn't even sail yet!

I board Libra tomorrow for a 4D/3N cruise to Ishigaki and Naha, Japan.

After I return to Taiwan I will definitely post my comments and impressions of the cruise. From what I am hearing, Libra seems to be accepted by the local people. Feedback has been nice.

Thanks for posting electricron.

Mike
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  #82  
Old July 20th, 2007, 09:51 PM
furballPerth furballPerth is offline
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Talking Review

For those who are interested there is a newly posted review of the Libra in Cruisecritic's REVIEWS section.
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  #83  
Old July 20th, 2007, 11:04 PM
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Hi furballPerth, thanks for pointing out the review. The review was done while Libra was sailing in Indian waters. Many changes have been made to the Libra for the new Taiwan cruises, which now make many comments in the review obsolete. The dining venues have also all changed.

All in all it is a fair and honest review.

I shall of course submit my comments and impressions with newly updated information when I return from my cruise.

Mike
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  #84  
Old July 27th, 2007, 03:17 AM
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Thumbs up Just got back from my LIBRA cruise

Hi all,

Just got back from my cruise. Give me a little while and I will post my comments and observations along with some photos. Hang in there.

To sum it up in 5 words:

It Was A Fantastic Cruise!

My best,

Mike
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  #85  
Old July 27th, 2007, 05:49 PM
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Thumbs up SSL Fantastic cruise

Welcome back Mike and we look forward to your reviews and latest pictures of the interesting Ports of Call.

Have a good rest and settle back to your land legs first.

Cheers. James
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  #86  
Old July 27th, 2007, 08:03 PM
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Hi Mike - welcome home - glad you had a fantastic cruise!

Look forward to your report and lots of photos

Vera
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  #87  
Old July 27th, 2007, 08:30 PM
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Hi James and Vera,

I will begin working on my comments very shortly. Unfortunately, business matters must come first. Thanks for the welcome back, although truthfully, I wish I were still aboard Libra.

There were about 1,650 pax on this cruise which meant that the ship was almost at capacity. I did not meet a single person who was not having a good time.

More to come.

Mike
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  #88  
Old July 30th, 2007, 07:12 AM
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Smile My fantastic cruise aboard SuperStar LIBRA Part 1

SuperStar LIBRA docked at Keelung



July 22, 2007 SuperStar LIBRA cruise calling at Ishigaki and Naha, Japan.

I was as excited as a kid going on my first cruise, leaving the gangway and stepping aboard SuperStar Libra. Star Cruises has been absent from Taiwan for too long.
But they are back now and I intended to make up for lost time, which I did.

Once inside Crystal Court, which is the Lobby containing Reception, Guest Services and Shorex counters, I was overwhelmed with the big bright smiles of the staff welcoming passengers aboard. My greeting was extra special to me, as many staff/crew whom I have known for many years were there as well, with arms outstretched and waiting for our usual greeting of hugs. It truly was like coming home to family.



My sailing had about 1,650 pax which is just slightly below full capacity. You can get an idea from this photo taken in the Embarkation Hall at the Keelung East Passenger Ship Terminal, which is the main terminal.



After all the greetings were done, I was escorted to my cabin (more on this later) by a most charming young lady from Guest Relations Department. After telling me about the activities that were planned for the next four days and general info about the ship, I was ready to drop my suitcase, which found its way to my cabin all on its own, (there is no check-in luggage for these cruises. It is all carry on) without my knowing it, and explore the ship.

Truthfully, I did not know what to expect onboard SuperStar Libra. I have seen all kinds of reports when the ship was the Norwegian Sea. So, with an open mind I started my tour.
By the way, I already liked what I saw of the Crystal Court and Deck 8 passageways.

Obviously the dry-dock this past June certainly refreshed this ship greatly. Everything was clean, shining where it should be and really no signs of wear and tear, except perhaps in the lifts/elevators. It was hard for me to imagine that this ship was almost 20 years old.

I went to the nearest lift lobby to go up to Deck 10, which is the topmost deck on Libra. At the Deck 8 mid ship lift lobby is an indoor curved staircase with wood steps that took me directly up to the Pool on Deck 9. From here I ascended the outdoor staircases to Deck 10.



Deck 10 is called the Sun Deck, and for very good reason. It is expansive and open and has fabulous sea views. This deck completely encircles the ship, and has sun loungers on both port and starboard sides. New Astroturf has been laid on this deck as well as the Pool Deck which gives this area a refreshing new look.



In my Part 2 we will continue with Deck 10 and then head to Deck 9

Stay tuned!
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  #89  
Old July 30th, 2007, 06:53 PM
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Thumbs up SS Libra review

Mike ~ excellent start - will await some pictures of the crew if you took some as we may recognise them!

Cheers.........James
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  #90  
Old July 31st, 2007, 12:01 AM
Westaussie Westaussie is offline
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Hi Mike - lovely pictures - Libra certainly looks refreshed!

Look forward to your next instalments!

Vera
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  #91  
Old July 31st, 2007, 02:40 AM
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Thumbs up Part 2- Deck 10 continued

Let’s continue exploring the rest of Deck 10. Walking forward, we come to COCONUT WILLY’s which is a nice outdoor bar. To me, this is a perfect location for a bar. It overlooks the pool, has gorgeous sea views and that wonderful fresh sea air. Although the bar and stools are under an overhang, the tables and chairs are not. So if you are sun sensitive, it’s the bar for you.
The bartender’s are friendly as is the wait staff and the drink prices are good. I like the fact that they do not blast you away with overly loud music here. A really nice, friendly bar.



This venue was my location for the sail away party held on the Pool Deck directly below.

Further forward of Coconut Willy’s is the FITNESS CENTER with gym, sauna, and Tatami style massage rooms. A good out of the way location and very well attended by pax on my cruise and it seems to have all the necessary and prefered equipment.






Going around the bow area now we are going to go aft using the starboard side of the ship, where we come to the indoor SKYLINE KTV.
I love this room which is on the starboard side of the ship. There is a huge wall of glass windows that offer great views. On the inboard side of the room are very comfortable banquettes, while at the windows there are tables and chairs. There is also a nice sit up bar at the far end of the room. This is a great room for just having a nice cocktail and enjoying the views or later at night when the Karaoke singing begins. It was very popular on my cruise. It is a comfortable, intimate room no matter the time of day or night.



Next we come to the BLUE LAGOON which faces directly aft and overlooks the Mariners Buffet directly below. I had no occasion to use this venue or sample the food here, as there was more than enough food on offer all day and night at other venues which are inclusive, while Blue Lagoon is extra charge. I did see quite a few people eating here and have heard comments that the offerings were quite good. I like this room’s location, which is actually on a balcony and has nice views.






Next and final stop on Deck 10 is Tai Pan, which is continued in the next post.
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  #92  
Old July 31st, 2007, 02:54 AM
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Thumbs up DECK 10--Continued

The last public room on Deck 10 is the Tai Pan a la carte’ Chinese Restaurant. It is located on the port side. This is a lovely room for more upscale dining. I was too busy to try this venue, but have been to others onboard various Star Cruises ships, and know for a fact that the food is very good and great attention to detail. I hope I will have the time to try Tai Pan on my next cruise, next month.
I especially like the small lounge area of this room and the main room itself. Really nice. It is a fine venue to celebrate that special occasion or to just enjoy fine food.

The lounge area of Tai Pan:


The main dining room of Tai Pan:


I like Deck 10 very much. Here there is such a diverse range of public rooms.

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Last edited by deck 9 001; July 31st, 2007 at 03:01 AM.
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  #93  
Old July 31st, 2007, 10:17 PM
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Default Part 3---Deck 9

DECK 9:

Here on this deck we find Mariners Buffet restaurant, with the connected East Side/West Side Patio, the swimming pools, Twin Hot Tubs and Lickety Splits.

Let’s start aft at the MARINERS BUFFET. This is the casual buffet food eatery, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. While I usually never have breakfast aboard ship (too early) and this time was no exception, I did have morning Tea, lunch, afternoon Tea and Midnight Buffet here.

The food was actually very nice and a good variety. Here I found Western favorites and Asian as well. Being in the restaurant business I can tell fresh food and quality ingredients. No problem here at all. Executive Chef Saifol Ikhsan managed to prepare, cook and present food that was very tasty, fresh and displayed nicely. This is a big task on any ship. I was very pleasantly surprised to see that the steam table and hot light food containers were replaced just when they reached the half full stage. Nothing bothers me more than to see buffet table food containers still sitting there with just scraps of food left. This venue did a brisk business at all serving times.

The room itself is quite large with large slanting floor to ceiling windows with marvelous views aft. During lunch the shades had to be drawn as the sun was too intense and was making the room hot. The tables are spaced far enough apart for comfort and the chairs are quite comfortable. Although there was a “closed” sign hung on the entrance door during off hours, I never had a problem to go in and get some coffee or ice water. Speaking about coffee, let’s just say that onboard Libra, the coffee is just about as horrible as on other Lines.

Another nice aspect of Mariners is that the wait staff are very efficient, smiling and non intrusive. They will always ask if they can clear plates before taking them from the table. You are never rushed to eat and get out. The Indian Management team is just wonderful. They are pleasant and truly care if the guests are enjoying their meal and the service. In my case, they went out of their way on several occasions to do something for me. Even so far as to find out the name of a certain Japanese Steak House in Naha. Between the food, most pleasant service staff and Management, Mariners was an exceptionally nice experience daily.


Mariners:


Just outside the entrance/exits to Mariners is the East Side and West Side Patios. These are long and narrow spaces set up with tables and chairs where the guest can bring food from inside Mariners and dine Al Fresco. They are both identical spaces on port and starboard. The only caveat here is that the outboard windows are not able to be opened, and there is no air circulation.

During the day, when there is sunshine, this can be quite oppressive. While this to me is a ship’s design flaw, perhaps the addition of ceiling fans would help. At night, these areas are much better, although not perfect. They still need better air circulation. I did however manage to have a few cups of brown liquid (aka coffee) here at various times.
East Side/West Side Patio:

EastSide/West Side Patio:



Making our way further forward we are now at the POOL BAR. This is a nice, large venue for a refreshing drink for a respite of baking in the sun. The bar is under an overhang which thankfully offers shade and some breeze. Order whatever you like, as the capable bartenders will most likely know how to make it. And if they don’t, they will find out. Service with a smile here also.


Pool Bar:

Always smiling bartender:



A few feet away from the Pool Bar and we are now at the 2 pools and twin hot tubs. I really like the pool deck onboard Libra. It is spacious and laid out nicely. Plenty of loungers available and tables and chairs are plentiful by the large windows that unfortunately do not open.

There were many children on this cruise, and I was very happy to see that the pool attendant was vigilant in making sure that the kids did not use the larger adult pool. He explained to the parents that it is for the child’s safety, which is very true. When older children were in the pool he asked them and their parents if they know how to swim. If they didn’t, he would courteously ask them to use the smaller pool. He also made sure that the adults took a shower before entering the pool.

Truthfully I was very glad to see that these safety and health precautions are taken seriously. Every pax obeyed the rules and there were no problems, just happy people having a good time at the pool.

(Pool continued in next post)
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  #94  
Old August 1st, 2007, 02:05 AM
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Smile Deck 9 Pool continued

This photo is an overview of the pool area:


The Pool Deck is also the venue for many of the parties and activities that take place onboard the Libra which are a lot of fun. Let me preface this with a little background info.
Boarding time for the cruise started at 1:30pm with sailing at 5:00pm. A ship’s tour was arranged by the cruise staff which started at 1:45pm. At 4:10 pm the mandatory Safety Drill took place which was handled with utmost professionalism and strictness. It was painless and over within 20 to 25 minutes. During embarkation there was piano music in the Galaxy of the Stars Lounge for anyone to enjoy.

Now begins the fun which will continue right up until the end of the cruise.
At 5:00pm Sunday the sail away party was held at the Pool Deck with music provided by the SuperStar Libra Canton Band and fun activities and introduction of the Cruise Staff. A lavish “Welcome Aboard” BBQ dinner was set up and served on both port and starboard sides of the pool deck. You name it and it was available. Succulent meats, fresh veggies, salads, appetizers galore and a separate dessert table which was set up in front of the Pool Bar. And is the custom with Asians, there was a huge assortment of fresh fruits available to end their meal.
The SuperStar Libra Trio also played at the Pool Deck party. This was a fun, festive event which everyone enjoyed. Many pax decided to stay at the pool and enjoy an evening swim, like me, The opening hours of the pools are very convenient. Open at 7:00am and closes at 12 midnight.

Here are some more photos of the happenings at the Welcome Aboard party and BBQ.


Some of the cruise staff introducing themselves:


The Canton Band musicians:


Canton Band singers:


Cruise Staff hosting line dancing:


More photos to follow in next post.
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  #95  
Old August 1st, 2007, 02:25 AM
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Smile More Pool Deck photos

Starboard side BBQ stations:


Fresh fruit:


Really delicious sweets:


Cruise Staff hosting "Pirate Games"


The prizes table:


(continued)
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  #96  
Old August 1st, 2007, 02:43 AM
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Smile Deck 9 Pool continued

The last venue on Pool Deck is Lickety Splits. Here free ices and ice cream are offered at specified times to all pax. Kids and adults as well loved it.

Being that we are still on the Pool Deck, I must tell you that on the last night of the cruise the pool deck was the venue for the "farewell Party" and "Chocolate Extravaganza" buffet. Again there was entertainment from the cruise staff and Canton Band and the SuiperStar Libra Trio. The place was jumping. People everywhere! Long buffet tables laden with confections of chocolate and sweets that would be a dieter's nightmare.
Pax were dancing, eating, swimming, eating, looking at the entertainment, eating and so on. I've got to show you some photos from this.











This was really a fantastic farewell gathering where Hotel Management, Cruise Staff and musicians were all on hand to say thanks for being aboard SuperStar Libra.

In part 4 we will head to Deck 8
(coming soon)
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  #97  
Old August 1st, 2007, 03:00 AM
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Mike - once again beautiful photos and good report. Look forward to deck 8 ..!

Vera
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  #98  
Old August 1st, 2007, 03:09 AM
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Vera, thanks very much. I am happy that you are enjoying my impressions of Libra and the deck by deck tour.

Best,
Mike
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  #99  
Old August 1st, 2007, 06:01 PM
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Excellent review so far, waiting for the rest of the decks.
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  #100  
Old August 1st, 2007, 09:24 PM
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Thanks electricron. Part 5, Deck 8 is coming up in a few minutes.

Mike
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