There may be no more exotic, no more diverse, cruise destination than Asia. From vistas of Mount Fuji in Japan to the north to the idyllic tropical shores of Thailand in the west, this area is exploding as a cruise destination. And with the proliferation of global discount airlines, it’s never been cheaper nor more convenient to get there.
Here’s an overview of this exciting cruising option to fuel your interests in Asia.
Cruising In Thailand And Malaysia
The top of every Asia cruiser’s wish list is often dominated by visits to Thailand and Malaysia. There’s good reason. With storied ports of call including Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi, Koh Phi Phi, and Langkawi, these tropical shores are the most picturesque in the world. You’ll find rock-dotted coast lines, white sand beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters, and a dizzying variety of adventure excursions. Though what’s best about Thailand and Malaysia are the wonderful, hospitable people and their phenomenal cuisine.
Cruises departing from Singapore or Bangkok will almost certainly make stops here, and just about every major cruise line is represented. But for such a bucket list destination we recommend the small ships of Windstar or the luxury service at premium line prices of Oceania and Regent Seven Seas.
Cruising Vietnam And Cambodia
A peninsula to the east of Thailand and Malaysia is quintessential Southeast Asia: Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. You’ll find pristine beaches at Da Nang and Na Trang, a warm and welcoming people, a lively pho noodle cuisine (don’t ever ask for “five star spicy”), and shopping bargains galore. Venture inland on a day excursion to see some of the most beautiful Buddhist temples in the world, from the Tran Quoc and Jade Emperor pagodas in Hanoi to the sprawling Angkor Wat temple north of Phnom Penh and nearby Angkor Thom. No matter where you go, try not to miss any street fairs you might happen across.
Vietnam and Cambodia bound cruises mostly depart from Singapore or Hong Kong. Likely cruise lines to consider include Norwegian, Princess, and Royal Caribbean, but with premium and luxury lines sometimes including airfares from the US your best overall vacation deals might be with Crystal, Oceania, Ponant, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, or Silverseas.
Cruising China And The South Sea
Increasingly, western cruisers are seeking stops in China. It’s easy to find visits to Hong Kong: it is, after all, a major cruise port in its own right, so a natural port of entry for any Asian cruise vacation. But other Chinese cruise stops can include nearby Macau, Xiamen, Quanzhou, Shanghai, and Taiwan. An ideal Chinese cruise vacation would couple pre or post tours of either Hong Kong or Shanghai with a 7 to 10 day cruise.
Most major western cruise brands now offer itineraries in these ports, and a slew of upstart Chinese cruise lines are starting to sell cabins through western systems. To avoid language and currency barriers, it’s still generally better for Americans, Canadians, and British to stick with the brands known to them, namely Celebrity, Holland America, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. For a premium or luxury experience, consider Crystal, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Silversea or Windstar.
The island nation of Japan is made up of nearly 7,000 islands, offering cruisers an unmatched opportunity to see and experience natural beauty and unique Asian culture. Japan is the most developed country in Asia, a comfortable destination for first time Asia travelers. From the bustle of Tokyo to the seemingly countless temples of Kyoto, the views of Mount Fuji to a cuisine that is one moment familiar (sushi) the next bizarre, Japan will seduce you. And so will Japan’s people.
Japan cruises leave, naturally, from Tokyo, a natural landing spot for your Asian vacation, and an even more natural pre or post cruise city to explore (clean, safe, and great public transportation). Your best bet for cruising Japan is–far and away–Celebrity, but if you can splurge consider Crystal, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, or Silversea.
Cruising The Philippines
After visiting the Philippines last year, we’re adding it to our list of destinations to consider cruising in while in Asia. Only a few cruise lines stop here, and even fewer depart from the Philippines (Manilla is the country’s capital and single megacity), so you’ll need to seek out itineraries from Singapore or Hong Kong with stops among the Philippines 7000 or so islands, including Palawan, Cebu, and Boracay. The effort will be worth it: the Philippines boast unspoiled and underappreciated natural beauty that rivals Thailand. All for–if you can believe it–even less money than Thailand.
Holland America, Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Windstar all have cruises originating in Bangkok, Shanghai, or Hong Kong that have stops in the Philippines.
Asia’s Megacities And Cruise Ports
Asia boasts some of the most densely populated cities in the world, many of them with ports and accessible by cruise ship including Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Singapore Taipei, Tokyo, and Shanghai. Each city has its own character, from super-clean Singapore with its British colonial feel and Chinatown that seems more Chinese than China…to the jam-packed streets of Manila with its (surprisingly) American colonial history and the massive Mall of Asia (huge malls are the rage across Asia). Naturally many of these megacities are cruise ports and make ideal starting and stopping points for your Asian cruise vacation.
To let us help you plan your Asian vacation and cruise, give us a call at (877) 585-SHIP.