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After a decade away from Sydney, Star Cruises’ SuperStar Virgo returned to Australian shores this week.

It was a test run for the Hong Kong owned cruise line, which is one of the most popular in Asia.  Would Australian cruises like the ship?

Cruise Passenger took a tour. Our verdict: if you love Asia, you’ll love this ship.

Though the ship is decorated in a Mediterranean theme with large gold horses in the foyer, marble floors, columns and a sweeping grand staircase, she still owes more to China Town than Little Italy.

There are oriental paintings, blue and white Chinoise vases and lacquered ornate wooden panels around the ship.

There are lots of little touches which make the SuperStar Virgo different from P&O and Carnival ships.

The cafes and coffee stands sell specialty Asian buns which you would find in a street bakery in Hong Kong or Singapore, there are lots of different bars, clubs and lounges including – of course! –  Karaoke and mah-jong rooms.

The SuperStar Virgo has 10 different eating outlets, and their names give the game away: the Genting Palace, the Noble House,  the  Samurai Restaurant, Tai Pain and the Taj inmdian buffet restaurant.

Only the Blue Lagoon sounds as if it might be a crossover.

And there is shopping – the large duty-free shopping area, stocked with luxury skin care goods from Lancome, SK II, Estee Lauder, Shu Uemura and Clarins – all popular cosmetic brands in Asia.

The suites have mah-jong tables and are  decorated with rich lacquered wood panels, plush couches and faux Ming vases.

But the brand is not only just for Asians,  as Sales Manager of Star Cruises Andrew Loving maintains. Around 20 per cent of the passengers onboard the 48-day round trip from Hong Kong are Australian managing to get the best of two worlds.

“We’ve had a good response from the Australian market. I think Australian cruisers are excited by the return of SuperStar Virgo because it has been around a decade since the brand has been in Australia. We hope the guests enjoy their experience.”

In a fleet of big white ships , the SuperStar Virgo is certainly in a class of her own, offering the sights of Australia from an Asian palace.

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