Flavors of Asia

Many popular cruises connect Singapore and Hong Kong, taking in the likes of Cambodia and Vietnam on the way.

This autumn, Norwegian Cruise Line will sail the Far East for the first time since 2001/2002, with recently renovated Norwegian Star offering varied itineraries. The 11-day Southeast Asia voyages departing from Singapore on 11 December and 5 January 2017 feature two nights in Laem Chabang for Bangkok, with other visits including Ho Chi Minh City and Sanya, known as China’s Hawaii because of its coral coastline.

Coast of Sanya – China

This year, Holland America has two ships sailing from Singapore with similar itineraries while Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess sails from Singapore next winter. A nine-night Southeast Asia fly-cruise (8 January departure, with an exceptional price, from £1,323pp) also features Sihanoukville in Cambodia, a resort town with beaches and dive sites.

Azamara Club Cruises’ mid-size luxury ship Azamara Journey’s Asia voyages next winter include the 13-night Spice Route II cruise from Chennai in India to Singapore, taking in the idyllic Andaman Islands, Yangon (formerly Rangoon) in Myanmar, Phuket in Thailand and Kuala Lumpur and Penang in Malaysia.

Oceania’s stylish mid-size Nautica has, alongside classic Hong Kong-Singapore cruises, various unusual itineraries such as the 15-day Hong Kong to Shanghai.

A call at Taipei in Taiwan is followed by four Japanese ports (including Nagasaki and Hiroshima), Seoul in South Korea and Dalian and Beijing in China.

Taipei – Taiwan

River cruises in Asia are also very much in vogue. Pandaw, a specialist in luxury but traditional vessels on the Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers in Myanmar (formerly Burma) has expanded from five to 16 ships in the past five years.

Vietnam’s Mekong is Asia’s most popular river destination. Pandaw operates three ships on the river, where the vast Delta gives way to waterways alive with floating markets before merging into dense, lush countryside backed by mist-cloaked mountains. A seven-night Mandalay Pagan Packet fly-cruise, between ancient royal capitals Mandalay and Pagan, starts at $3200, all-inclusive.

Other specialists in the region include Paukan and Belmond, who offer exceptional, luxurious stay-and cruise experiences in Myanmar on their enchanting ships.

Viking, best known for its many ships on Europe’s rivers, also has increasingly popular trips in Myanmar and China, the latter combining a six-night Yangtze cruise with two-night stays in Shanghai and Xian and three nights in Beijing.

 

“We have seen growth in Asia, particularly China, and due to demand we have increased our Yangtze cruise by one night for 2017 and will be introducing a second itinerary, Yangtze Explorer,” says Managing Director of Viking, Wendy Atkin-Smith.

 

Scenic launches two high-end ships in Asia this year: Scenic Spirit on the Mekong and Scenic Aura on the Irrawaddy. Ultra-luxury Uniworld, through Titan, sails the Mekong, and its India’s Golden Triangle and the Sacred Ganges tour and cruise sees a 14-night adventure with seven nights on the new, all-suite 56-guest Ganges Voyager II, visiting otherwise inaccessible villages and wildlife havens, with a five-night tour of Dehli, Jaipur and Agra.

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