Star Cruise offers Muslim Cruise Packages on Superstar Libra

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Star Cruise offers Muslim Cruise Packages on Superstar Libra via travel agency Malaysian Harmony since early this year in 2013. And to initiate this new campaign, the travel company together with Santai Magazine and Malaysian celebrity Datuk Aznil Nawawi or Pak Nil as he is popularly known, organized a media familiarization trip from Penang to Thailand where a total of about 70 media turned up. This 3D/2N cruise which departs from the Port of Penang, arrives at Phuket and then sails towards the beautiful coastal town of Krabi before sailing back to Penang.

Explorer Lifestyle had the pleasure of joining the media group in early June and the experience was wonderful as we had never been on a cruise before. Boarding the ship for the first time, everyone was welcomed with a nice cold towel and welcome drink from the sweet staff on board. After checking into our cabins, the entire entourage was invited to a special welcome cocktail and mini press conference by the organizers and also Pak Nil. A magnificent spread of appetizers and desserts was served during this session which ended with socializing and mingling among each other. After that, we had a few hours to explore the Superstar Libra before the welcome party on board the ship at about 8 pm. This is something which is not to be missed by everyone if you are going on this cruise.

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Welcoming the guest on board the Super Star Libra

The Superstar Libra welcome party starts with the main host introducing the entire ship and so on. Right after that, a performance is conducted by the ship’s guest hosts followed by previews of the various shows that are available throughout the cruise which are spectacular and not to be missed. All in all, we were pretty impressed with the entire welcoming party. Soon after that, our personal explorations took place where each group went their own ways. Mind you, there are a total of 10 floors on this ship and you can imagine how large this cruise ship is.

On board, there are two pools and two Jacuzzi’s on the top deck, a restaurant and bar to compliment the area, there is a duty free shop on the fourth level while there is also a saloon, spa and a Chinese restaurant. On the 10th floor, there is the first Halal Restaurant on board a cruise ship which is called Spices Restaurant and also a Karaoke and a 24-hour cafe there. A disco is on the ninth floor while a casino is on the fifth floor of the ship. In three days, I have to admit, I did not manage to finish trying out all the entertainment offered here.

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Spices, the only halal restaurant on board a cruise ship here

During one of the nights, we were all treated to a special halal dinner together with Pak Nil at the Spices Restaurant. According to the Star Cruise representatives, a huge sum was invested into turning this place into a 100% fully halal restaurant. Certificates are also obtained by the cruise operator while brand new cutlery was bought for the place. The food, overall was good. It had a well balanced taste with fresh ingredients used. The chef was also a Malaysian Muslim who has been with Star Cruise for many years.

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Aznil Nawawi or Pak Nil trying some halal food at Spices Restaurant

The rooms come in various sizes where the most common ones are the standard rooms. Executive and deluxe suites are also available for those wanting a larger space on the ship. All rooms come with air condition, attached bathroom and a LCD television. In terms of comfortableness, I would say, this is a cruise ship and  for me, it was very decent though it looks small. But overall, I has good sleeping nights here.

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Phuket seen from the ship

Upon arrival in Phuket port, the group was ushered into a waiting bus where we were taken on a tour around the island. Mind you this was arranged by the host for the media. First stop – A cashew nut factory where we were introduced to the production of this unique nut. Now I know why they cost so much and if you would like to know, you should take try this cruise to explore the beautiful southern islands of Thailand. Next was the elephant park where guest are allowed to go for elephant rides and also see an elephant show here. Our final stop was the ever famous Patong Beach where you are given some time to explore the area for food and shopping. Our return to the boat was scheduled at 9 pm therefore all guest are reminded again and again so that no one misses the bus back to the port. (If you do miss the bus, you other option is to grab a taxi and head there yourself)

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Arriving at Krabi

From Phuket, the next stop was the coastal town of Krabi where we were given about six hours to explore the place. The ship will port out in sea while small ferries will transfer guest towards the main Aonang jetty. In most normal cruise packages, tours are optional or you can simply explore on your own at both Phuket and Krabi. The modes of transport are taxis or Tuk Tuk’s that take you into town and back to the jetty, for a price of course. For us, we simply walked around the famous Aonang Walking Street by the beach where shopping and food is easily available. Oh, I did pick up some amazing souvenirs there. For your added information, there is a pretty good factory outlet store located just out of Aonang in Krabi. It is called Outlet Village Krabi and most of the items there are quite cheap with many international brands. You need to take a taxi there though.

After Krabi, it is an overnight cruise back to Penang but before bed, there is a farewell formal dinner followed by a farewell showcase by the staff of the Superstar Libra. To wrap this up, we did a full tour of the ship which included a guided visit to the bridge of the ship and many other parts of the vessel. The only other place I wanted to go but did not have a chance was the ship’s engine room. Below are various pictures taken during my Star Cruise Superstar Libra trip to Thailand.

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Pak Nil officiating the press conference with Star Cruise, Malaysian Harmony and Santai Travel reps

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The special welcome appetizers for the media group

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Pak Nil as the ambassador for his upcoming trip with his fans in November 2013

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Spices Restaurant, a 100% Halal Restaurant on board the ship

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Cashew nut factory in Phuket
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Elephant Park in Phuket

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SuperStar Libra seen from the ferry

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Welcome Party on the Super Star Libra

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Pre-show at the Welcome Party

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Captain and crew on the bridge of the Superstar Libra

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Krabi’s famous Crab, a popular tourist photo stop

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Outlet Village Krabi – A must-visit for those who love to shop

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Exploring Aonang Walking Street in Krabi

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Shopping at Aonang, Krabi

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Superstar Libra at night, docked at Phuket

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Deluxe Room with Romantic Couple Package setting

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Standard room on the Superstar Libra with Romantic Package Decoration

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Super Star Libra Casino

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The special menu for the Malaysian Harmony Muslim Media FAM Trip

My recommendation – If you have never been on a cruise before, I suggest you try this one that heads to Thailand. Moreover, if you are Muslim, there is a full Muslim Cruise Package and you can get more information from the Malaysian Harmony Tour Company as they specialize in this. Also, Pak Nil will be having a special Muslim Cruise Package this November which is arranged by Malaysian Harmony therefore if you would like to be on this cruise together with him, please check the website for full details. Another tip from me is to check out the coming Matta Fair September in KL for cruise deals as sometimes, you can get really good prices for cruise packages. Alternatively, you can check out the Malaysian Harmony Booth at the Matta Fair 2013.

To end this, I would like to thank M-Mode’s Santai Magazine, Star Cruise and Malaysian Harmony for making this trip possible as this was an eye-opener for me in terms of going for a cruise. Seriously, I had a fantastic time on this cruise while I also made many new friends from the various media who went along. Also thank you to Pak Nil for entertaining us throughout the cruise. (Especially his witty game of Poison Ball or Bola Beracun in Malay). For those wanting additional information about the many other cruises around the region, you can get that from the Star Cruise website.

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Muslim Search Engine LagiSatu.com Launched

LagiSatu.com

Muslim Search Engine LagiSatu.com Launched

Award-winning LagiSatu.com is the world’s first-ever Meta search engine for Muslim travellers who can now evaluate travel services and facilities based on Muslim needs. “LagiSatu” means one more. Launched in April 2013, it is also the first hotel search engine developed in Malaysia. It taps into the emerging global trend for halal travel — a concept which bagged the Start-Up of the Year award at the WebInTravel awards in Indonesia.

A report presented at ITB Berlin (Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin), which is the world’s largest tourism trade fair, estimated that the Muslim travel market is worth US$126 billion (RM383 billion) globally. Pegging on this burgeoning halal tourism sector, LagiSatu’s approach is based on a halal stars rating system called HalalStars. Travellers can search for hotels and evaluate their accommodation options based on the amenities and services provided at the destination specifically for practising Muslims.

The various star-rated religious considerations include room amenities (praying mat, Qiblah direction, ablution facilities and Quran), hotel facilities (including the availability of the list of mosques) and food (halal restaurants, pre-order halal food and halal room service).

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Founders; Juergen Gallistl and Faeez Fadhlillah – Image from NST Malaysia

LagiSatu.com co-founder Faeez Fadhlillah says, “With a total of 240 million Muslims living in Southeast Asia, we have recognised that there is a strong demand for the concept of halal travel. We have incorporated HalalStars with LagiSatu and believe this will ultimately set us apart from other Meta search engines and other travel comparison websites.” The other co-founder of LagiSatu.com is Juergen Gallistl, an Austrian. The partners work at Sonnenbaum, which owns the brand WE! Come with offices in Cyberjaya.

Travellers logging on to http://www.lagisatu.com to search for their next hotel can compare their options using HalalStars. Doing so enables them to find the best hotel deals available online with a single click. It compares prices on more than a quarter of a million hotels in over 180 countries worldwide. Information is now available in four languages — Malay, English, Indonesian and Chinese.

Partners include some of the biggest accommodation and travel portals such as LateRooms.com, Agoda, eBookers, Expedia and Hotelclub. When planning a trip, users can also check out their destination before they check in using the engine’s suggested reading. It provides details such as how much savings can be made, the distance from the hotel to the nearest city centre, and a list of local amenities and attractions. References and user ratings are imported from TripAdvisor and HolidayCheck.

Faeez Fadhlillah adds, “LagiSatu.com removes the hassle of sifting through endless hotel websites and trying to find the best rooms for the lowest prices. It completely removes the hassle of comparing multiple websites manually and provides inbound and outbound travellers with the best hotel rates at a single click.”