Star Cruises Superstar Libra Review
UPDATE: SuperStar Libra is now back In Malaysia
This article was originally written for the Penang-Phuket-Krabi cruise on SuperStar Libra when it was homeported in Penang. It then stopped and moved to Haikou, the capital city of Hainan, China and plied the Halong Bay, Danang and Hue route in Vietnam.
Now it is back to Malaysia and offers cruises from Penang and Port Klang. It is also triple homeported not only in Penang and Port Klang but also Phuket. The package that we took includes Krabi but this is no longer available in Starcruises current promotion.
My Superstar Libra Review
You can still read this article as a guide to what to do when you cruise on SuperStar Libra. I was told, the food range is not as spectacular as when I was on the cruise way back in 2014 and gala dinner with the Captain is no longer offered.
4D3N Penang-Phuket-Krabi Cruise Ship Vacation
Sail Date: September, 28th - October 1st, 2014
I always dreamed of going on a cruise ship and enjoy the sounds and scenes of the ocean. To see the sunset over the shimmering blue horizon. Or to simply relax and enjoy the fun and excitement of the sea cruise.
That dream finally came true. Unfortunately, it was not on the spectacular Queen Mary 2.
It was on the Starcruise 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.
What Are Included in Your Superstar 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 but some are payable.
- Leisure and sport activities
Note: Starcruises Superstar Libra operates a "no tipping" policy
Passengers & Crews on Superstar Libra
This cruise is marketed mostly to the Asian markets. You will find many Malaysians, Singaporeans, and tourists from the Indian subcontinents. On my trip, I bumped into two Caucasian families and I think that was about it.
Most of these passengers are first timers on a 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 - 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!
Starcruises Superstar Libra Officers On Board
Penang - Phuket - Krabi : Star Cruise Libra Route
SuperStar Libra Brief History
Previously A Norwegian Star Cruise Ship
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 homeported in Penang, Malaysia.
Superstar Libra Freestyle Cruising
Dress Code on Superstar Libra
Genting Group 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 shorts and flip-flops.
I had 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 or you will be denied entry.
Power Point Adaptor On Board Superstar Libra Ship
Superstar Libra power point outlet is the 220V two round pin plug and not the usual 3-pin plug in the Malaysian and Singapore homes. 110V outlet is also provided.
So, bring the worldwide travel plug adaptor with you. If you forget, you can call housekeeping and use their adaptor provided it is not fully taken up by other passengers.
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 boarding the ship. But I suggest you have a heavy breakfast instead. Then, once you get onboard go for the afternoon snack that is served at all their restaurants from 1 pm until 4 pm.
Checking In And Embarkation at Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal, Penang
Check-in starts at 1 pm and is at Level 1, Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal. If you are on a group tour, your tour agent will do the check-in for you. If you are on your own, do online check-in so you don't 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 plan to arrive a day earlier. This helps to reduce stress and protect against any unforeseen events like traffic jams or a delayed flight. If you cannot come a day earlier, then plan to arrive before 11 am as check-in starts at 1 pm. Although the ship sails at 5 pm, there are many activities before the ship sails. So, I suggest you check in early at 1 pm.
But if you hate the queue, then check-in after 2.00pm when the queue is less congested.
Starcruise - Super Libra Ship Fact
Number of Cabins
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 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.
How To Get Free Drinking Water
Two bottled water is given free for every room every day. If you need more, take your empty bottle and fill it up at the restaurant. Otherwise, you have to buy at the convenience store on board the ship.
Star Navigator - Superstar Libra Daily Newspaper
You 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 the third and fourth day. This covers Krabi and the disembarkation notice.
Don't lose this leaflet as you may need to make reference, later.
Superstar Libra Passenger Safety Drill
As part of the requirement of Maritime Law, the mandatory passenger safety drill is carried out at 4:45 pm, 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 is 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, Just In Case You Need To Know
Front part of ship
Middle part of ship
Back part of ship
Levels of the ship, similar to floor levels
Right side of the ship when you face forward
Left side of ship when you face forward
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 a full day. Don't expect to surf at 4G speed but good enough to read emails and be updated on your WhatsApp feeds.
Unfortunately, you can't use it in your cabin. There are several 'hot spots' to enjoy this wireless internet connection. These are in the restaurants, casino, lounges and pool deck area.
If you buy the Starcruises Superstar Libra online deals, you get free WiFi on board, for some of their promotions. Check out for this special offer before you do your selection.
Malaysian and Thailand's mobile services are available when you are in their respective countries. Once the ship is in 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 will end up with some pretty heavy charges if you use these services!
Cruise Ship Cabin
My Rating: 3.5/5.0
There are eight types of cabin 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 advertised for only 4 pax.
UPDATE: The Executive Suite is now fitted with only one king size bed and one three-seater sofa bed.
The smallest is the stateroom with two single beds. This was the room that we stayed in but with the ocean view and with two single beds laid in an L-shaped setup. This layout has a larger floor area compared to the bed laid side by side. All cabins suffer from low ceiling heights and if you are six-footer or more, you can’t stand up straight.
For room detail, see the listing for all the cabin types, below.
Some oceanview cabins have 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.
Superstar Libra Related Searches
You might want to check the following articles on Star Cruises Superstar Libra:
Superstar Libra Room Facilities
Remember you are on a cruise ship and a direct comparison between cabin facilities and hotel room is not right.
The toilet is of decent size except if you are a six-footer or more. What is important is the water pressure, which is strong so you get a powerful shower. And yes, they do provide towels, shampoo, and soap.
Fortunately, all cabins have television, telephone, and hairdryer. 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 many other activities to enjoy. So, save your money and get the 'budget' cabins.
There are also cabins designed for passengers with disabilities. If you need this cabin, check with the staff when you do your booking.
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
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
171.68 - 228.51
Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with 1 Queen size Bed and 1 single sofa
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
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
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
103.12 - 168.88
Halal Food on Superstar Libra
Superstar Libra is currently the only cruise ship in the world that serves halal food at two of its restaurants i.e. Spices and Blue Lagoon
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 during the restaurant's opening hours.
List of their Dining & Drink Outlets with UPDATED info
- Blue Lagoon: 24-hour Dining Outlets with Asian Specialties (Halal outlet)
- Four Seasons Restaurant*: Continental dining restaurant
- Spices Restaurant*: Asian specialty buffet restaurant (Halal outlet)
- Mariners Buffet*: Continental dining restaurant
- Ocean Palace: Chinese family-style restaurant
- Taipan*: Chinese a la Carte Restaurant
- Coconut Willy’s: Poolside bar with Gourmet Delights
- Pool Bar: Drink and cocktail bar with Gourmet Delights
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 Blue Lagoon 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.
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.
If you want to bring home this coffee as souvenirs, you can buy them onboard the ship.
Show and Entertainment Onboard
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'.
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 that they are staff and not full-time entertainers, they are talented and many of the passengers were impressed.
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. (Note: These are prices when I was onboard in 2014)
Superstar Libra Shore Excursions
Shore excursions to Phuket and Krabi are optional activities and rates vary. 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 which is cheaper in Krabi. Or experience the world renown cultural shows in Phuket. You can do these with Star Cruises packages or do on your own with the local agent.
I will cover this topic on the 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 to take your photos. Photos are taken when you embark the ship, attend events and shows, and when you disembark for onshore excursions.
I bet every family 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 need one for the 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 a 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 is 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