Star Cruises Superstar Libra Ship Review

Update: StarCruises SuperStar Libra is now Homeported in Haikou and doing the Halong Bay, Danang and Hue cruise in Vietnam.

This article was originally written for the Penang-Phuket-Krabi cruise on SuperStar Libra. Unfortunately, Super Star Libra is no longer homeported in Penang and is now based in Haikou, the capital city of Hainan, China. It is now plying the Halong Bay, Danang and Hue route in Vietnam.

However, you can still read this article as a guide on what to do and what to expect when you cruise on Super Star Libra.

4D3N Penang-Phuket-Krabi Cruise Ship Vacation

Sail Date: September, 28th - October 1st, 2014

I have always dreamed of going on a cruise ship. I want to enjoy the sounds and scenes of the ocean. See the sunset over shimmering blue horizon. Or simply relax and enjoy the fun and excitement of the sea cruise.

Recently, that dream finally comes true. Unfortunately, it was not on the spectacular Queen Mary 2.

It was on the Star Cruise Superstar Libra 4D3N Penang-Phuket-Krabi vacation. The ship was recently refurbished and it was like being in a brand new ship. So it wasn't that bad.

Now, if you are thinking of doing the same thing, read here for my tips and comments. With any luck, you will soon know what to do and what not to do on this cruise.

Star Cruise SuperStar Libra Cruise Ship
Star Cruise SuperStar Libra Cruise Ship | Source

Casino and Gambling on SuperStar Libra Ship

Let's get this matter cleared first. I read reviews by people complaining that this ship is just a casino at sea and regretted buying the package.

Star Cruises is an associate of Genting Group of Malaysia and their core activity is in the casino business. Hence, it makes sense for them to have casinos in all their cruise ships. That's how they make money and make the cruise fare affordable for most people.

If gambling is not your cup of tea, you can still go on this cruise. There are many activities, events and things that you can do that will keep you occupied right past midnight.

I too don't gamble, but enjoyed the cruise as I was able to join and immersed myself in most of their activities.

What are Included in Your Super Libra Cruise Fare

  • Accommodation of your choice of cabin type
  • All you can eat buffet at selected restaurants. Some are a la carte and you have to pay for these meals
  • Entertainment shows. Please note that some are payable.
  • Leisure and sport activities

Note: Star Cruises Superstar Libra operates a "no tipping" policy

Passengers & Crews on Superstar Libra

This cruise is marketed mostly to the Asian markets. Hence, you will find many Malaysians, Singaporeans and people from the Indian subcontinents. On my trip, I bumped into two Caucasian families and I think that was about it.

I suspect most of these passengers are first timers on sea cruise, just like me!

English is the official language, so you will have no problem getting around the ship. The ship's officers are Swedish and the ship's crews are Asians and are from the Philippines, China and India. Although they speak English I encountered language problems on two occasions with some of the junior crews. It wasn't a big deal as we managed to communicate by sign language!

Swettenham Pier Building with Star Cruises Superstar Libra ship in the background (right side). Parking is on the left, just before entering the building forecourt.
Swettenham Pier Building with Star Cruises Superstar Libra ship in the background (right side). Parking is on the left, just before entering the building forecourt. | Source

Star Cruises Superstar Libra Officers On Board

Designation
Name
Nationality
Captain
Lennart Jegerfalk
Swedish
Staff Captain
Marcus Szymaszko
Swedish
Chief Engineer
Svante Gunnarson
Swedish
Hotel Manager
Yazid Mustaffa
Malaysian
Cruise Director
Allan Bernardino
Filipino
Executive Chef
Saifol Ikhsan
Malaysian

Penang - Phuket - Krabi : Star Cruise Libra Route

show route and directions
A markerPenang -
Penang, Malaysia
[get directions]

B markerPhuket -
Phuket Island, Thailand
[get directions]

C markerKrabi -
Krabi, Thailand
[get directions]

SuperStar Libra Brief History

This cruise ship, built in May 1988 in Finland for Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) was initially operated as 'Seaward'. It was later changed to 'Norwegian Sea' in 1997

When Genting Group of Malaysia bought into NCL, Norwegian Sea was transferred to its Star Cruises fleet. It was later renamed 'SuperStar Libra' in 2005.

Major refurbishment was carried out in January 2013 and it is currently home ported in Penang, Malaysia.

Superstar Libra Freestyle Cruising

Dress Code on Superstar Libra

Genting Group had adopted the same 'Freestyle Cruising' as its 28% associate company, Norwegian Cruise Line. Hence, clothing is smart casual and eating time is flexible and you can sit and have your meal with whomever. But for Gala dinner dressing is elegant or smart casual without the shorts and flip-flops.

I brought a light jacket thinking that in the evening it might get windy and chilly. Fortunately, it wasn't so I didn't use the jacket at all.

If you want to use the gym you have to wear the proper gym attire complete with sports shoes. Otherwise, you will be denied entry.

This is the power point outlet used on Superstar Libra
This is the power point outlet used on Superstar Libra | Source

Power Point Adaptor for use on board Libra

Superstar Libra power point outlet is the 220V two round pin plug and not your usual 3-pin plug that you use in your Malaysian and Singapore homes.

You need to bring with you the worldwide travel plug adaptor. If you forget, you can call housekeeping and use their adaptor, provided it is not fully taken up by other passengers.

How to get Free Drinking Water

Two bottled water are given free for every room every day. If you need more, take your empty bottle and fill it up at the restaurant. This will save you the extra ringgit!

Parking at Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal, Penang

If you drive to Penang, you can park your car at Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal parking lot. It is next door to where you check in for the cruise ship. Parking rate is RM5 per day.

Afternoon Meals Onboard Superstar Libra

There's plenty of food stalls across the road if you need to eat something before getting on the ship. But I suggest you have a heavy breakfast. Then, once you get onboard, you can have the afternoon snack served at all their restaurants from 1pm until 4pm.

Check In at Swettenham Terminal Penang before boarding Star Cruise Superstar Libra
Check In at Swettenham Terminal Penang before boarding Star Cruise Superstar Libra | Source

Star Cruise - Super Libra Ship Fact

Date Built
May 1988
Flag Registry
Bahamas
Gross Tonnage
42,285
Length
216.3m
Width
32.64m
Average Speed
17 knots
Maximum Speed
20 knots
Number of Cabins
709
Passenger Capacity
1418

Checking in and Embarkation at Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal, Penang

Check-in starts at 1pm and is at Level 1, Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal. If you are on group tour, your tour agent will do the check-in for you. If you are on your own, I suggest you do online check-in, so you will not waste precious time.

Online check-in is open seven days before your departure date and closes eight hours before your departure time.

If you are driving or flying into Penang, it is a good idea to arrive a day earlier. This helps to reduce stress and protect you against any unforeseen events like traffic jams or delayed flight. If you cannot come a day earlier, then plan to arrive before 11am as check in starts at 1pm. Although the ship sails at 5pm, there are many activities before the ship sails. So, I suggest you check in early at 1pm.

But if you hate the queue (that starts before 1pm), then check-in after 2.00pm when the queue is less congested.

Room Access & Identification Card

After check-in and clearing customs and immigration, you will proceed to board the ship.

Your luggage will be scanned again and you hand over your passport to the ship's staff. In exchange, you will get your room access card, which is also your identification card and 'credit card'. All purchases made onboard the cruise ship will be made through this card. So, handle this card with care and settle your payment on the last day before the disembarkation.

Corridor on Deck 7 of Star Cruise Superstar Libra ship
Corridor on Deck 7 of Star Cruise Superstar Libra ship | Source

Star Navigator - Superstar Libra Daily Newspaper

You will get two editions of the ship's “Star Navigator”, a leaflet that shows the activities during your sail dates.

It includes the arrival time at your next port of call, sunrise and sunset time, dining guide for all its restaurants, time and venue for all its activities, shows and mealtime. And of course, the important notices on safety and security, onboard promotions and services available on every deck.

The first edition highlights events and activities for the first and second day for Penang and Phuket.

The second edition shows events and activities for third and fourth day. This covers Krabi and the disembarkation notice.

Don't lose this leaflet as you may need to make reference to it.

Passenger Safety Drill on Superstar Libra, in progress
Passenger Safety Drill on Superstar Libra, in progress | Source

Passenger Safety Drill

As part of the requirement of Maritime Law, the mandatory passenger safety drill is carried out at 4:45pm, just before the ship sets sail. Your assembly point is written on your access card. It is also shown on the safety poster in your cabin.

During the drill, it is important that you listen and watch everything that are done. This is to ensure that you know what to do during a real life evacuation, in case it happens. You are also instructed to bring the lifejacket from your room, so you will know how to put it on during the real situation.

Unfortunately, not all passengers take the trouble to attend this important session. If you value your life, please attend and pay attention.

Ship Terminology

Forward (FWD)
Front part of ship
Mid
Middle part of ship
Aft
Back part of ship
Deck
Levels of the ship, similar to floor levels
Starboard Side
Right side of the ship when you face forward
Port Side
Left side of ship when you face forward
Assembly Station
Area where you assemble in case of emergency

WiFi and International Roaming on Superstar Libra

WiFi is available for a fee of RM20 (RM18 if you buy online) for half day and RM38 for full day. Don't expect to surf at 4G speed, but if you just want to read your emails and kept updated on your WhatsApp feeds, then it is good enough.

Unfortunately, you can't use it in your cabin. There are several 'hot spots' to enjoy this wireless internet connection. They are in the restaurants, casino, lounges and pool deck area.

If you buy the Star Cruises Libra online deals, you may get free WiFi on board on some of their promotions. So, check out for this special offer before you do your selection.

International Roaming

Malaysian and Thailand's mobile services are available when you are at their respective countries. But once the ship is at international waters these services will not be available.

Instead, the international roaming services may automatically switch to either NOR-18, 908.18 or CellularAtSea. Don't forget to switch off your roaming, if these services are not required. You may end up with some pretty heavy charges if you use these services!

Superstar Libra Related Searches

SuperStar Libra Cabins

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

There are eight types of cabins available on Superstar Libra ships. The largest is Executive Suite with two single beds, one double sofa bed and one King-size bed. If you travel with your family, this room is ideal and can accommodate 6 pax although it is advertized for only 4 pax.

Our cabin with L-shaped bed setup on Superstar Libra. Apologies for the messy beds!
Our cabin with L-shaped bed setup on Superstar Libra. Apologies for the messy beds! | Source

The smallest is ocean view stateroom with window with two single beds. This was the room that we stayed in, but the two single beds were laid in L-shaped setup. This layout has a larger floor area compared to the bed laid side by side. Hence, if it is only two of you I suggest you choose this cabin type as it is not that expensive and has a decent walking space. However, all cabins suffer from low ceiling heights and if you are six footer or more, maybe you can’t stand up straight.

For room detail, see the listing for all the cabin types, below.

Some cabins may have cabin windows obstructed by the ship's structure. So, check if your room has this problem.

Surprisingly, storage space is more than adequate. There are enough spaces to keep your stuff and hang your clothes. You can even stow away your luggage underneath the bed!

Toilet for our cabin on Superstar Libra
Toilet for our cabin on Superstar Libra | Source

Superstar Libra Room Facilities

Remember that you are on a cruise ship. So, you cannot do a direct comparison between the cabin facilities with a hotel room.

Toilet is of decent size except if you are a six footer or more. To me, what is important is the water pressure, which happens to be strong, so you get a powerful shower. In case you are wondering, yes they do provide towels, shampoo and soap!

Fortunately, all cabins have television, telephone and hair dryer. The more expensive and bigger cabins have safe box, larger LCD TVs, DVD, CD players and mini-fridge-bar. You don't need these when there are so many other activities that you can enjoy. So, save your money and get the 'budget' cabins!

There are also cabins designed for passengers with disabilities. I have not seen them, but if you need this cabin, check with the staff when you do your booking.

Public Announcement

Announcements made over the public address system cannot be heard from inside your cabin.

By the time you rush to open the cabin door to hear the announcement, the English version is over and you get to hear the Chinese version. Tough, if you don't understand Chinese!

Cabin Size and Type, on SuperStar Libra

Room Type
Accommodate
Approximate Size (sq. ft)
Executive Suite with 1 King-size Bed / 2 Single Beds / Double Sofa Bed
4 pax (but I am sure 6 pax can go in)
315.27 - 384.91
Junior Suite with 2 Single Beds / 1 Single Sofa Bed
3 pax
171.68 - 228.51
Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with 1 Queen size Bed and 1 single sofa
3 pax
128.52
Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with 2 Single Beds (L-shaped Setup) / 1 Pullman Bed (fold-down berths) or 2 Single Beds (L-shaped Setup)
2/3 pax depending on bed setup
128.52
Oceanview Stateroom with Window with 2 Single Beds (L-shaped Setup) / 2 Pullman Beds or 2 Single Beds (L-shaped Setup) / 1 Pullman Bed / 1 Pullman Bed or 2 Single Beds (L-shaped Setup)
2/3/4/ depending on the room setup
108.71 - 128.52
Oceanview Stateroom with Window with 2 Single Beds / 2 Pullman Beds or 2 Single Beds / 1 Pullman Bed or 2 Single Beds
2/3/4/ depending on the room setup
103.12 - 110
Oceanview Stateroom with Porthole : 2 Single Beds or 2 Single Beds / 2 Pullman Beds
2/4
110
Inside Stateroom: 4 Single Beds or 2 Single Beds / 2 Pullman Beds or 2 Single Beds / 1 Pullman Bed or 2 Single Beds / 2 Single Beds
2/3/4
103.12 - 168.88

Cruise Ship Overview

Superstar Libra is currently the only cruise ship in the world that serves halal food at its selected restaurants. Homeported in Penang, Malaysia, it offers the 4D3N Penang-Phuket-Krabi-Penang cruise, the 1N Penang High Sea (more for the gamblers) and 7D6N Penang-Phuket-Yangon-Penang cruise.

Food and Dining on Star Cruises SuperStar Libra

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

On Superstar Libra, you get a choice of either casual buffets or formal dining. As mentioned earlier, there are no specific assigned tables. You can have your food anytime, but during the restaurant's opening hours.

List of their Dining Outlets:

  • Blue Lagoon* open 24 hours, serves Oriental and Western snacks
  • Four Seasons Restaurant for western-style food
  • Spices Restaurant* serving both set and buffet style Indian and Nasi Kandar menus
  • Mariners Buffet serving buffet spreads consisting of Malaysian, Chinese, Indian and Indian vegetarian foods
  • Ocean Palace for Chinese food
  • Taipan*, for Cantonese and Nyonya cuisine

Note: restaurants marked with * are ala carte restaurants (charges apply). All other restaurants are inclusive in your cruise package.

Halal Food on Star Cruises Superstar Libra

Superstar Libra is the only cruise ship in the world that serves halal food. These are available only at Mariners Buffet and Spices Restaurant.

Food quality and taste are good and comparable to most hotels in town. There are several dishes that stand out especially the Indian foods. But dessert is a disappointment and you are better off with the fresh fruits selection.

Star Cruises Coffee

If you drink coffee, then you must try their Bevanda Coffee made from Brazilian and Indonesian coffee beans. I enjoyed drinking this 3 in 1 coffee and must have drunk at least 2 mugs for each dining. This may explain why I can stay up so late at night to take part in almost all their activities.

By the way, if you want to bring home this coffee as souvenir, you can buy them at their outlet onboard the ship.

Meal time at Mariners Buffet, Superstar Libra
Meal time at Mariners Buffet, Superstar Libra | Source

Entertainment Show on Superstar Libra

My Ratings: 1.5/5.0 for shows by international artiste. 4.0/5.0 for shows by the ship's crews

Evening entertainments are by the ship's crews and the international artiste. For performances by the international artiste, we had magic show and the song and dance show billed as 'Simply the Best'.

Superstar Libra show by international artiste on 'Simply the Best'. This act is probably the best from this mediocre show.
Superstar Libra show by international artiste on 'Simply the Best'. This act is probably the best from this mediocre show. | Source

It is claimed to be Vegas-styled. If you are familiar with the quality of performances at Genting Highland, then both the magic show and 'Simply the Best' failed to match the standard. The magic show had nothing new to offer and was boring. Simply the Best had some magical moments, but failed to live up to its name. Superstar Libra is a 'budget cruise', hence the entertainment by 'budget international artiste'!

But shows by the ship's crews are simply the best and entertaining. Considering the fact that they are staff and not full-time entertainers, they are talented and many of the passengers were impressed.

Duty free shops onboard Superstar Libra
Duty free shops onboard Superstar Libra | Source

Duty Free Shops on Superstar Libra

Forget the duty free shops on Superstar Libra. Choices for luxury items such as handbags, watches and perfumes are limited. Prices aren't that cheap when compared to airport duty free shops.

Even liquors and cigarettes prices are higher, but if you need them, go ahead and buy as it is cheaper than onshore prices. Cigarettes are sold from RM70 and liquors from RM48 onwards depending on the brand.

Superstar Libra Shore Excursions

Shore excursions to Phuket and Krabi are optional activities and rates varies. There are several activities you can do on these excursions. You can do water related activities, join the adventure and wilderness tours or try the local cuisines. If you want to be pampered, go for the foot and body massage then go sightseeing or experience the cultural shows. You can do these with Star Cruises packages or do on your own with the local agent.

I will cover this topic on shore excursion in detail, in a separate article. Check the 'Superstar Libra Related Searches' section for the link to this article.

On Board Photographer

Superstar Libra, like all cruise ships has a photographer on board who is always around to take your photos. Photos when you embark the ship, attend events and shows, and when you disembark for onshore excursions.

I bet every families bought at least one photograph taken by this photographer. Your excuse for paying this exorbitant price of RM28 each, is for remembrance sake. That's what I did and that was the reason.

They are not cheap. If you really need one for keepsake, buy one that is unique and not a shot that you can take with your own camera. Photo during gala dinner is a classic example. You don't have to buy this photo as you too can take a photo of your wife or family posing at dinner table or having dinner.

Overall Experience on Superstar Libra

For the first time cruiser, I bet you will enjoy this trip as everything are new experiences for you. You will enjoy the cruise, provided you take part in most of their activities and entertainment.

For seasoned cruisers, it may not be such a great experience. The entertainment value is not up to par with Genting Highland shows.

The ship's operation was well run and the staff are incredibly friendly and courteous. This is a typical warm Asian hospitality.

My rating for this cruise is 3.5/5.0. I was not happy with the two shows by the international artiste, which pulled down the rating. But I enjoyed the cruise and the sounds and scenes of the ocean, despite the large crowd on this ship. Even at 100% occupancy, the ship is big enough for you to find some nice and quiet place.

So, give yourself a break and try this 4D3N Penang-Phuket-Krabi cruise. It is affordable and during the MATTA travel fair, you can get some good bargains.

Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do, than the things you DID do. So sail away from the safe harbor. Cast off the bow lines. Catch the tradewinds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

— Mark Twain

© 2014 Mazlan

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12 comments

Jessie Chen 5 months ago

useful information!


Sumathi prem 14 months ago

My dream cruise


ericlog 19 months ago

how can I win Roulette in superstar libra


greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 21 months ago from Malaysia Author

Hi Taranwanderer, thanks for dropping by and adding this article to your list of cruise ships. And of course, wishing you all the best in your endeavour to get you parent on the QM2 cruise


Taranwanderer profile image

Taranwanderer 21 months ago

My mother is dreaming of a cruise on Queen Mary 2...maybe I'll send her and dad on it. As for me, I will now add this new one to my list of cruise ships after I arrange a cruise on it - http://hubpages.com/travel/7-Amazing-Cruise-Ship-C...


greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 22 months ago from Malaysia Author

Hi bosswan. Thank you. I hope you will come back and read the other Star Cruises article as well:)


bosswan 22 months ago

Good article..enjoy reading it for a first timer.


greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 23 months ago from Malaysia Author

Hi Sha. I have read that photography inside the casino is not allowed. However, when I was there, I saw people clicking away on their mobile phones and the security guards didn't say a thing!

Hi Pagal. Halal foods are served only at Mariners Buffet, which is inclusive in your cruise package and you don't have to pay for meals there; and at Spices Restaurant, which is ala carte & charges will apply. To have meals at Spices, you don't need meal voucher. You will be charged for food taken and it will be billed to your room access card, which is also your 'credit card'. You only settle your this payment (and for any other purchases) on the last day before the disembarkation.


Pagal 23 months ago

Do they give any special voucher for halal food at the Indian restaurant, for Muslims?


Sha 23 months ago

Hi Randall,

Are we allowed to take photo inside the casino or is there any restriction on certain part of the ship that does not allow us to take a photo?

Thanks for the lengthy review. Highly appreciate it!


greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 2 years ago from Malaysia Author

Hi Randall.

There was no pressure to gamble at the casino. But the subtle encouragement to play bingo was always there, from their frequent reminders and clever marketing gimmicks.

The casino is easily accessible and anyone can just walk in. I watched some of the passengers trying their luck on the roulette & blackjack, but no one seems to be that lucky. So, I wasn't tempted at all. My friend went in with a fixed mindset that he will spend a certain amount of money, which he said is for entertainment. If he wins or loses, that's it. He will not spend more than what was budgeted. I guess it is easier said than done, but if you go in with that strategy, you will not feel so bad if you lose. (But then, there's always the temptation to desperately try to make up for the lost money!)

Thanks for the visit and compliment, Randall.


Randall Guinn 2 years ago

An excellent hub greatstuff. I can tell that you put a lot of work into it. I enjoyed reading it. Were you ever encouraged to gamble, or felt any pressure to?

Randall

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