With the completion of SuperStar Virgo’s US$56 million makeover into Explorer Dream, Pamela Chow sets foot into the new behemoth for an alternative Dream Cruises experience.
Once the SuperStar Virgo of sister brand Star Cruises, Explorer Dream has entered the Dream Cruises fleet after an overhaul that spans its on-board facilities and cabin interiors.
The vessel brings to the seas 928 staterooms, including Dream Cruises’ signature ship-within-a-ship luxury commune, The Palace.
Explorer Dream will sail out of its homeport in Shanghai and Tianjin to Japan, Hong Kong and Vietnam. This October, the ship will cruise from Sydney and Auckland.
Having once sailed on the original SuperStar Virgo, I was impressed by the vessel’s transformation. Common spaces from walkways to the pool deck had been rejuvenated, and the cabins brightened with homely yet modern murals.
It’s not just a feast for the eyes, but also the tastebuds as available on board is a bevy of F&B options, such as Asian restaurant Blue Lagoon, Seafood Grill by celebrity chef Mark Best, Mozzarella Ristorante & Pizzeria, as well as Umi Uma Sushi & Teppanyaki.
Blue Lagoon treated this writer to a taste of signature Szechuan spices – a must-eat when visiting China – while Umi Uma Sushi & Teppanyaki served up a delectable menu of fresh seafood and sake.
The pièce de résistance of Explorer Dream is perhaps its exclusive enclave aptly named The Palace. This cluster of opulent suites are royally decked with plush furnishings, with majestic Grecian art adorning the walls of select cabins. Arguably the most luxe of the lot, The Palace Villa even boasts a balcony fitted with an outdoor jacuzzi overlooking The Palace’s private pool deck.
Recreational spaces onboard the Explorer Dream include an arcade, games and virtual reality (VR) lounge ESC Experience Lab, the Zodiac Theatre, the Palm Court bar and an observatory.
At the ESC Experience Lab, I tried my hand at a few rounds of invigorating VR gaming with other guests. Available on both solo and team mode, the Dead Prison station “locks” players within a cage, where they can choose from a variety of shooting games.
I relished the concept and setting of this experience, as well as its interactivity – participants simply have to stand in one spot and “shoot”. As such, the setup offers high potential for Dream Cruises to explore other types of immersive VR games.
Explorer Dream marks a notable departure from cruise stereotypes with its greater emphasis on gastronomic experiences and family-friendly fun. Its entertainment offerings are varied and interesting, boding well for Dream Cruises’ upcoming plans with its Global Class fleet.
Fly-cruise packages start from S$690 (US$499) per person, based on double occupancy, and excluding gratuities, port charges and visas.
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