Marianas Variety

Last updateSat, 25 Mar 2017 12am

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    Friday, March 24, 2017-5:58:54P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

Variety Features

Aboard a luxury cruise ship

FOR the past couple of years, this section has brought you to familiar and unfamiliar nooks and crannies of Saipan, Tinian and Rota — from spots that you have always taken for granted to areas that you have never thought existed here.

Photo by Raquel C. BagnolToday, put on your sea legs and take a glimpse of what’s inside one of the luxury ocean cruise ships which has visited Saipan every year for the several past years — Asuka II.

An upscale medium-sized cruise ship, Asuka II, is known as one of the biggest luxury cruise ships in Japan. Its 790-foot long frame occupied a big portion of the Saipan port last Monday for another one of its regular visits.

Asuka II’s first purser Yukiko Shindo took four of us on a tour of this mighty ship which I had only seen from a distance while it was docked in the port in past years.

We started the tour at the third deck and rode the elevator to the sixth — and that’s where you forget you are on a ship. Our guide transported us to a luxurious five-star hotel with lush carpets and wide glass windows offering superb panoramic views of the sea and the island.

The time never seemed to be enough as we took photos of everything and anything while trying to take the grandeur of it all in. It was all a haze and maze of hallways decorated with contemporary décor and an exquisite art collection emphasizing 20th century western works.

We went past designer shops featuring fashion items, jewelry, and upscale items, to coffee shops and restaurants, plush lounges and bars. We waltzed through the Hollywood Theater, which can seat 260 persons, dance halls and conference rooms, and more shops than I can remember.

On the 11th deck, a Seahorse Pool, a Jacuzzi and sun beds provide passengers with a place for luxury and relaxation.

Directly above the ship’s bridge is the Vista Lounge, one of the best features of Asuka II. A huge blue dome occupied the center of the lounge and Shindo told us that when the sky is totally dark, hundreds of pin lights are seen on the dome, making one feel like he is gazing up into the skies on a starry night. We didn’t experience that because it was 2 p.m.

Going up to the top deck of the ship was an experience beyond description. The aqua blue soft carpet stretched endlessly until your vision meets the blue of the ocean and the horizon. The view from up there was breathtaking — the whole of Lower Base spread below with Mt. Tapochao in the backdrop. A few flowering flame trees added touches of fire to the green forests and blue skies and seas.

We capped our tour with cups of heavenly latte coffee at the Vista Lounge. We went down to the third deck and out the gangway and discovered we were not in Europe or any exotic part of the world. We were still at the Saipan Port with the blazing sun beating relentlessly on our unprotected skin and with it, the reality that we have deadlines to meet.

The Asuka II tour, though, appeased our frustration for not being able to get onboard the Queen Mary 2 earlier.