Family cruises- Redang, Tioman Islands, Malaysia
Cruising the high seas. A journey to Redang and Tioman, Malaysia
Disclaimer: This is a post intended to be written around April. However, when you are moving countries, I am hoping you would forgive thetunictraveller for getting a little busy and a little lazy after all the busy-ness
As R&Rs school break was coming up, the husband R booked us on a surprise trip! Well, aren’t we a family that loves surprises, after all. And you can’t imagine how excited we all were for our first cruise holiday. It was also time to say adieu to Singapore. Before our relocation back to Apna Desh. So, it was a fitting trip, I must add.
Where were we headed? To Tioman and Redang Islands along the East coast of Malaysia. One of the more pristine beaches, these were long on our travel bucket list.
If you have visited Singapore, chances are you would have not missed the aerial view of the sparkling white cruises on the way to Sentosa. This is one of the more spectacular views from the glass bottom Cable car rides from Mount Faber to the fun island of Sentosa.
So after our many observations from the top, we were thrilled to view the Superstar Gemini from inside. A Norweigan Cruise Company that operates the Superstar liners, Superstar Gemini is just right if you are testing the waters for a cruise holiday.
Welcome aboard Superstar Gemini
After being warmly greeted by the crew, checking into our room was the first activity. Overlooking the seas, the girls nodded in approval of the room. So, that was a good enough start for the 3 day haul.
Next, we signed up for the Cruise tour and began exploring the enormous floating hotel, little by little. As the surprises unfolded, our list of to dos grew longer! Swimming pools, spa, duty free shopping, shows and performances, kids activity centre, karaoke bar, basketball court, gym, jogging track, you name it and they had it all. Not to forget the dime a dozen restaurants.
As much as you are happy exploring the cruise, you realise how much it means to be on land. So, while you enjoy the journey, the thought of a destination waiting for you is also quite enticing.
Tioman, was our first shore trip. The arrival for Tioman was scheduled for 7 a.m.
We chose a glass bottom boat ride package at Tioman from the Excursion Deck, previous night. A smaller boat would transfer us to the coast from where a glass bottom boat would take us on a 30 minute ride to the corals.
One of the lesser populated islands; Tioman is extremely popular with snorkelers and deep sea divers. Rich with coral reefs and a stunning underwater marine life, its turquoise green waters glimmers gorgeously under a bright sun. And that’s exactly how it panned out.
The corals were impressive, but a distant distant second from the Great Barrier Reef spectacle. Some snooping around with fish, we headed back to the Berjaya Tioman Resort’s beach. Splish splash fun later, we headed back to the cruise liner. The captivating moment of the day was the dazzling hues of turquoise rolled on the water and spreading out generously.
Just sitting around idly on the ship watching the ship take leave of Tioman, was so beautiful. There was stillness, an easy calm that was so deeply soothing. Sound of the waves, whiff of the salty air and, the gentle caress of winds against your cheeks. Blissful!
Bang. Reality. There was no dearth of entertainment options, for the evening. As we settled under the stars on the sun deck of Super Star Gemini, melodious live music played in the background. ‘Que Sera Sera, whatever will be, will be’, strummed the lead vocalist on her guitar. There was a Zumba party on another side of the deck and in the middle; you could see people gorging on food. Like there’s no tomorrow
We didn’t plan anything for Day 3. Free and easy was our plan (lack of any plan really)! Brunch later, the idea of exploring Redang, hit us all. The water to Redang is quite choppy, and on the transfer boat, I was strongly hit by sea sickness. But thanks to our very own amchi Puneri Avala Supari (grated, salty dried amala/gooseberry), I was saved from the torment of it.
Redang didn’t seem inviting, at first sight. A few boats were docked in a very sad looking pier that evoked everything unkempt. Just as we hopped on to a van, Redand screamed out loud, “Wait, and don’t form first impressions just yet”. “I never always judge a book by its cover, I retorted to it.” Though I quite like to choose movies on Netflix based on the posters
A vivacious white sandy beach spread out as far as our eyes could see. Mesmerizing. “Wait, go and peek inside the water, next.”
My R family dashed out to the beach. We take to water like bees to honey A school of brilliant orange spot rabbit fish seemed to take a liking to our feet. In the crystal clear waters of Redang, they could be seen with naked eyes. No snorkeling/diving gear, right on the beach. Simply superb! Too bad, too sad (one of the phrases l learnt from the older R), I wasn’t carrying my SLR this time. But click. Recorded it in my mind (as the younger R often says). Magical, was it?
Swimming in those pristine waters to our hearts content, we all nodded in agreement. After a good 3 hours in the water, our tummies started rumbling (one of the R&R sisters’ fave expressions). Can anything be more satisfying than chilled tender coconut water to beat the heat? Thankfully, though completely drenched inside our pockets the Malaysian Ringgits were plastic. So no worries of torn currency. The coconut seller was doing a roaring business in the mid afternoon heat.
After a slice of paradise, what was coming up next? A boat ride back to Superstar Gemini. Oh God! The choppy waters again. But, not to worry, for my rescuer ‘Avala supari’ was grinning from my jumpsuit pocket sheepishly.
A dreaded ride later, I was happy to be on familiar waters on the cruise. A hearty leisurely lunch later, we vegetated on the decks for a while.
Just as were thinking of the major attraction for that night, the Gala dinner, hosted by the Captain of the ship, we were reminded of the Spa at the top deck of the cruise. So, we squeezed in some spa time and it was deeply relaxing.
The Gala dinner was highly overrated, IMO. A boo from my side! A quiet dinner under the starlit skies rather than a jazzy night is what I would have preferred.
Our Singapore arrival was scheduled for 3 p.m. What did we plan for the day? A leisurely breakfast. Leisurely lunch. Of course, oodles of photo time. Where? On the deck, in the room, at the restaurant, swimming pool. Basically, almost all places on the cruise, were ticked!
If you are travelling for the first time, a short cruise trip makes sense.
Keep away from too much food. We encountered many people who literally were stuffing food in their mouths like there’s no tomorrow. But eat light, for you don’t want to end up with a bad tummy on your trip.
Depending on what kind of family time you prefer, you could plan your days. However, do have some free chilling out time, with nothing planned.
R&R loved the cruise experience and it was a great relaxing holiday. Though we had not gotten off the cruise, the thought of good times coming to an end was sickening enough
You must definitely experience a cruise once, atleast once in your life time.
Now, quite contrary to popular perceptions, cruises do not really cause sea sickness. For all those apprehensively putting away your cruise holiday, go ahead and book one! Test waters with a small duration cruise before jumping to a longer 10 day cruises.
Thetunictraveller’s tips for the first time cruiser-
• Carry all your medicines, especially if you are travelling with kids, do include meds for vomiting, sea sickness, fever etc. There is a Doctor and a medical store aboard; however, they are quite expensive.
• A highlighter comes handy – the next day’s agenda is printed on paper and delivered to every room, the previous night. (What a colossal waste of precious paper. I hope they come up with some eco-friendly means).
• Take it easy- have times where you will just relax and not do anything. We even considered not getting off the cruise on Day 3. So, if day excursions seem draining, don’t take them.
• You also have a ‘free and easy option’ for onshore excursions. It basically means transporting you to the shore from the cruise. What you do there, is completely up to you.