Explorer Dream

Explorer Dream Review and Specifications

Specifications of Explorer Dream

Year built1999  /  Age : 20
Flag state Panama
BuilderMeyer Werft (Papenburg, Germany)
Building costUSD 350 million
Owner(GHK) Genting Hong Kong Ltd
OperatorDream Cruises (Asia)
Speed24 kn / 44 kph / 28 mph
Length (LOA)268 m / 879 ft
Beam (width)32 m / 105 ft
Gross Tonnage75338 gt
Passengers1856 - 2800
Crew1300
Passengers-to-space ratio38
Decks13
Cabins928
Decks with cabins10
Last Refurbishment2019
Sister-shipsSuperStar Leo (Norwegian Spirit)
Former namesSuperStar Virgo
Christened byGrace Chen

Review of Explorer Dream

Launched in 1999 as "SuperStar Virgo (for Star Cruises), since 2019 the Explorer Dream cruise ship is part of Dream Cruises fleet. Both companies (Star Cruises and Dream Cruises) are fully-owned by the Malaysian corporation Genting Group. Vessel's new fleet mates are the premium Asian liners Genting Dream (2016) and World Dream (2017).

History - construction and ownership

Genting Cruises is one of world's largest cruise companies and the biggest (by fleet/passenger capacity) on the Asia-Pacific market. The company is listed on the Singapore Exchange and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Star Cruises was established as an associate of Genting Group of Malaysia, incorporated on November 10, 1993, in Bermuda (corporate headquarters in Hong Kong). The first cruise ships were two cruise ferries bought from the bankrupted Swedish company Rederi AB Slite. Star Cruises purchased several other second-hand vessels in the following years. In 1998, the company acquired its first newbuild - SuperStar Leo (now Norwegian Spirit for NCL). The sistership SuperStar Virgo (Explorer Dream) followed in 1999.

Explorer Dream cruise ship (SuperStar Virgo)

The 2800-passenger cruise ship Explorer Dream was constructed in Germany by Meyer Werft (Papenburg Shipyard) and delivered to Star Cruises on August 2, 1999. In March-April 2019, the liner was drydocked in Singapore for a complete redesign and refurbishment, then transferred from Star Cruises to Dream Cruises.

Cruise itinerary program

Starting operations for Dream Cruises in April 2019, MS Explorer Dream is homeported in Shanghai and Tianjin during summer. For winter season 2019-2020, the liner is deployed in Australia and New Zealand with homeports Sydney NSW and Auckland NZ. From here, the liner cruises on 21x 7-day itineraries, including:

  • 6x 7-day "Queensland and the Barrier Reef" itineraries (starting October 27, 2019) visit Mooloolaba, Newcastle, Brisbane, Gladstone.
  • 8x 7-day "Tasmania Island and Melbourne" itineraries (starting February 9, 2020) visit Port Arthur, Burnie, Hobart, Melbourne, Phillip Island, Eden.
  • 7x 7-day "North and South New Zealand" itineraries (starting mid-December) visit Wellington, Dunedin, Milford-Doubtful sounds, Napier, Bay of Islands, Picton, Akaroa, Gisborne.

Cabins

There are 928 cabins aboard Explorer Dream including Interior, Oceanview, and Balcony Staterooms, as well as Palace and Palace Deluxe Suites, Palace Penthouse and Palace Villa.

The Palace is an elegant “ship-within-a-ship” boutique enclave with more than 40 suites with chic Italian decor including 2 Palace Villas and VIP facilities like its own swimming pool, dining venues, and lounge. Guests can sample signature European and Asian specialties in the Palace Restaurant. The dedicated team of Dream Butlers offers unparalleled expertise and highest level of hospitality. 

Shipboard dining options - Food and Drinks

The onboard cruising experience is "freestyle" which means passengers have the choice to dine when, where and with whom they choose. All Main Dining Room meals are complimentary.

Follows the complete list of Explorer Dream restaurants and food bars.

  • Pavilion Restaurant (complimentary restaurant)
  • Dream Dining Room (complimentary restaurant)
  • Seafood Grill by Mark Best features sea views and fresh seafood creations from the internationally-acclaimed Australian chef
  • Palace Restaurant (only available to The Palace guests)
  • Silk Road offers traditional dim sum along with Cantonese cuisine
  • "Mozzarella Ristorante e Pizzeria" features a modern fusion of classic Italian pizzas and dishes with a Japanese twist
  • "Umi Uma Sushi and Teppanyaki" (Japanese Restaurant)
  • Hot Pot features authentic Chinese feast with a selection of nourishing soups
  • The Lido and Lido Grill
  • Bread Box (shop), Candy Kingdom (candy store), Gelateria (Italian ice-cream shop)
  • The Little Cake Cafe (patisserie) offers artisanal chocolates and decadent cakes.
  • Matcha Ice offers signature Asian desserts (including from Japan and China).

Shipboard entertainment options - Fun and Sport

The peacock-inspired Zodiac Theatre offers Broadway-style live shows. The ship also boasts with the ESC Experience Club for Virtual Reality games and the Action Zone for conventional gaming. Guests can indulge in a variety of spa treatments at the onboard Crystal Life Spa. Those who prefer to stay active can head to the gym, jogging track, or Sportsplex. The Parthenon Pool which is on the main top deck features Caesar's Slide. The Little Dreamers Club is where kids can enjoy workshops, costume parties, games, and a DJ booth.

Follows the complete list of Explorer Dream lounges, clubs and other entertainment venues for kids, teens and adults.

  • Zodiac Theatre hosts Broadway-style live production shows
  • Observation Deck
  • Captain's Observation Lounge - via the educational gallery, guests can Play Captain for a day
  • Function 8 is a meeting room for group events or conferences
  • The Dream Boutiques
  • Genting Club
  • Palm Court is an observatory lounge with ocean views
  • Humidor Cigar Lounge
  • The Zone is a multipurpose lounge with game consoles (an Action Zone for conventional gaming)
  • Photo Corner
  • SPA (with a reflexology lounge, private treatment rooms, and saunas), Beauty Sanon, and Gym
  • ESC Experience Lab for Virtual Reality games
  • Parthenon Pool with hot tubs and Caesar's Slide
  • A stage for live bands and a LED screen
  • ViewPoint
  • International Room
  • Premium Room
  • Resorts World at Sea
  • Mahjong Lounge
  • Blue Lagoon
  • Grand Piazza with Reception, Dream Elite Member Information Centre, Shore Excursions/Future Cruise Sales/Box Office, and Meetings/Future Cruise Sales
  • Lobby Cafe
  • Casino
  • Boardwalk
  • Little Dreamers Club offers workshops, games, costume parties and a DJ booth
  • Sun Deck with a Sun Deck Bar
  • Jogging Track
  • The aft-located SportsPlex doubles as Helideck (has a helipad/helicopter-landing platform used in cases of emergency).

Explorer Dream wiki

In the period 1999-2019, the vessel was operated by Star Cruises (GHK's subsidiary, sister-brand of Dream Cruises) under the name "SuperStar Virgo". SuperStar Virgo's last drydock refurbishment by Star Cruises was in 2014 (January 5-29). The USD 19,7 million renovation project resulted in upgraded staterooms, hotel services, dining options, renovation of all recreational facilities, refit of 270 balcony cabins, 560 m2 public spaces expansion, new shops.

In May 2018, Genting Cruise Lines signed a partnership deal with Wirecard (digital payments / online shop development company) for implementing a fleetwide onboard payment system. The system ("Quick Pay") was first installed on World Dream and Genting Dream, then launched on SuperStar Virgo (Explorer Dream). "Quick Pay" allows passengers to be in full control of their onboard money spending - including pre-authorized limits, account management, monitoring, paying the total bill at disembarkation. The technology is based on scanning individual QR codes (during check-in, in staterooms or via the ship's intranet network, then selecting the "Quick Pay" option. Payments can be made via Alipay (Chinese online payment platform) and the credit cards Visa, American Express, Mastercard, Diners Club, JCB, UnionPay. The mobile app allows passengers to set up pre-authorized amounts for themselves, as well as for friends and family members.

In 2018, Genting Cruise Lines signed an agreement with Okinawa Agricultural Cooperatives Association and Leospo Inc. Following the partnership, on select GHK-owned liners is offered Okinawa-sourced food and local produce. The new onboard dining options include the famous Okinawa Wagyu beef and Okinawa Agu pork. The offer is available on select ships and during summer when they cruise to Okinawa. In 2018 (April through November), these premium food specialties were available on World DreamSuperStar AquariusSuperStar Gemini, SuperStar Virgo. The exclusive gourmet dishes are served via specially designed theme menus. They also include the traditional Japanese dishes Shabu Shabu (with ingredients stirred in cooking pot) and Teppanyaki (iron griddle cooked food), as well as BBQ Okinawa Agu Pork and the wok-fried Okinawa beef (with bitter gourd garlic) and Okinawa beef rib eye (with sweet plum sauce).

Vessel's 2019 drydock (USD 56 million refurbishment project) added new facilities and amenities, including The Palace - an exclusive ship-within-a-ship suite complex with over 40 new staterooms served by dedicated butlers. The Palace passengers also enjoy beverage and dining privileges and exclusive activities, like fashion workshops with Chen and Connoisseurs Circle (club amenities). Other new venues on the ship include Zodiac Theater, ESC Experience Lab (virtual reality room), Palm Court (observation lounge), redesigned Atrium Lobby, new restaurants (Mozzarella Ristorante and Pizzeria, Umi Uma Sushi and Teppanyaki, Seafood Grill by Mark Best).

Explorer Dream ship's hull art was designed by the NY-based Chinese artist Kuri Huang. The artwork has Dream-brand's signature mermaid icon. Ship's godmother is Grace Chen - a very successful Chinese fashion designer, Founder and Chief Designer of "Grace Chen Couture" (brand established in 2009 as one of China's major fashion companies), as well as Chinese alumni of New York's Fashion Institute of Technology. Liner's christening ceremony was on April 11, 2019, held in homeport Shanghai. Mrs Chen also presented an exclusive onboard fashion show during the inaugural cruise.

SuperStar Virgo review

In 2016 was officially announced that SuperStar Virgo will offer roundtrip itineraries out of China's Port Nansha-Guangzhou in 2016. In 2017, the ship was homeported in Kaohsiung-Taichung (Taiwan). The Hong Kong-based company confirmed two itineraries per week leaving from Nansha-Guangzhou - the largest city of Guangdong province (Southern China) and located close to Hong Kong City. The itineraries were a 3-day cruise to Hong Kong, and a 6-day cruise to Vietnam (Halong BayDanang-Hue) and Sanya China.

In 2017, the ship was homeported in Kaohsiung (Taiwan) offering 6-day roundtrip itineraries in the “Golden Triangle”. Beside Kaohsiung, ship's other turnaround ports were Hong Kong and Manila.

In March-May 2018, SuperStar Virgo was homeported in Manila Philippines for roundtrip themed cruises to ports in Taiwan and Japan. Ship's itinerary program from The Philippines (March 5 through May 29) included a total of 18 roundtrips visiting Ishigaki (Japan) and Keelung (Taiwan), as well as Naha (Japan) and Keelung. Both Japan and Taiwan don't require visas, which is convenient and cost-saving for the Filipinos cruisers. In September-November 2018, SuperStar Virgo was homeported in North China (DalianQingdaoTianjin).

SuperStar Virgo had a total of 935 staterooms in 18 categories. The largest cabins were the Executive Suites (60 m2 / 650 ft2). All staterooms offered as standard amenities electronic safe box, flat TV, individually controlled air-conditioning, mirrored vanity/dressing table with chair, double bed (convertible to twins), en-suite bathroom. Suites were designed with a separate sitting/sleeping areas, scenic balcony views, bathrooms with jacuzzi tubs.

The onboard cruising experience was "freestyle" which means passengers had the choice to dine when, where and with whom they choose. All Main Dining Room meals were complimentary. Follows the complete list of SuperStar Virgo restaurants and food bars.

  • Bella Vista Restaurant (560-seat, International cuisine)
  • Samurai Restaurant
  • Mediterranean Restaurant (Buffet-style restaurant, offers International cuisine of high quality with fresh ingredients - a hallmark of Star Cruises)
  • Tai Pan (a la carte Chinese restaurant for more upscale Chinese cuisine)
  • Tatami Room (with sliding screens, floor-level seating and low tables; Japanese cuisine)
  • The Noble House (multi-course Chinese banquet)
  • The Pavilion Room (family-style Chinese restaurant)
  • The Taj (Indian restaurant)
  • Palazzo (Italian)
  • Blue Lagoon (serves fast food and snacks)

The vessel featured an art gallery, a video game arcade, Jacuzzis, and nightly live music. The Star Cruises' vessel was perfect for family holidays, romantic excursions and group adventures. The amenities on board the cruise ship were planned to suit every cruise style. During the evenings, guests could take advantage of the main performance theatre, The Lido, producing and hosting cabaret shows, magicians, musicians, and other talented acts. There were also a couple of themed bars - Celebrity vodka bar, and Bellini champagne bar.

Music artists from Hong Kong and Taiwan (including Richie Ren, Andy Hui, Michael Wong, Tiger Huang, Michael Tse, William So, Edwin Siu, Johnny Yip, Bo Luk) performed in The Lido on a weekly basis. The liner also featured “BEATSHIP by ZOUK” (onboard nightclub party), an illusionist show, the Broadway opera "Memory Lane" (featuring the best of Shanghai and Hollywood from the 1950s).

Follows the complete list of SuperStar Virgo lounges, clubs and other entertainment venues for kids, teens and adults.

  • Star Club; Grand Piazza
  • The Promenade; Lobby Boulevard; Sunset Boulevard
  • Oscar's Hair & Beauty Salon; Apollo Spa & Fitness Centre; Universal Gym
  • VIP Room; Genting Club; Activity Centre
  • Cafe Gelato; The Observatory
  • Bellini (jazz bar)
  • Galaxy of the Stars Lounge (with 360-degree views)
  • The Den (you can see the Captains working and ship's "Hall of Fame")
  • Samson's and Delilah's (steam, sauna and massage rooms for men/women)
  • Star Boutique; Wine Shop; Internet Cafe; Photo Gallery; Card Room
  • The Lido (Theater); Starlight Video Arcade
  • Charlie's Childcare, Computer World, Starlight Cinema
  • Neptune's Wet & Wild; Jumbo Chessboard; Table Tennis
  • Pool Deck, Pool Bar, 3 pools, 5 Jacuzzis; Mega Waterslide; Sun Deck; Jogging Track.

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