For clients looking for a really special cruise, Asia or Australasia – or a combination of the two – would fit the bill perfectly.
Few would argue with the statement that a cruise is one of the best ways – sometimes the only way – to explore Asia and Australasia, and cruise lines are expanding their product range in response to demand.
Crystal Cruises is offering five Australia/Asia cruises in 2018, and six the following year, with new ports of call Kangaroo Island and Busselton featuring in a 15-night cruise from Auckland to Perth on Crystal Serenity.
Before that, in a first for the cruise line, Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony will meet in Sydney on 17 February next year, during the ships’ first-ever world cruises.
The city also features in Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ 107-night Around the World cruise, which departs from Southampton on 18 November 2018. Passengers on the cruise will spend Christmas sailing the blissful paradise islands of French Polynesia and will reach Sydney at New Year.
The cruise includes a two-night stopover in the city, specially timed to include Sydney’s show-stopping firework display, which will light up the skies over the Harbour Bridge on 31 December. Prices start from £12,069 per person in an ocean-view room.
On the other side of Australia, the less-sailed Kimberley Coast is a favourite among Silversea guests, and is now popping up a little more regularly on expedition-style itineraries, with luxury line Ponant adding the Kimberleys to its 2018 programme.
Silversea’s head of trade sales and partnerships UK and Ireland, Connie Georgiou, said: “We purposely schedule our expeditions to the Kimberley Coast at the end of the wet season, when the waterfalls are in full flow.
“With December’s extraordinary rainfall, the region’s magnificent waterfalls will be on peak display this year, and we’re pleased to offer our guests this rare opportunity to witness nature at its most majestic.”
In Asia, Japan is the next big destination, with Princess Cruises and Silversea introducing new itineraries for 2018.
Princess Cruises’ vice president UK and Europe, Tony Roberts, said: “Over the past few years we have seen a strong demand from the UK market for our cruises in Asia, particularly Japan, with Asia now being the second most popular continent.
“Our popular shorter voyages allow guests to combine a cruise with a land holiday, and the longer cruises are a great option for exploring more of Japan.”
Princess Cruises’ new voyage for 2018, Fall Foliage, will take place during Japan’s peak autumn season, when guests can enjoy the changing autumnal colours in Kyoto and Momijidani Park on the island of Miyajima. The eight-day round-trip, leaving Tokyo on 8 October 2018, costs £998 per person (cruise only).
Elsewhere in Asia, river cruise operator APT is again collaborating with Vietnamese-Australian chef and TV presenter Luke Nguyen.
New for 2018 is the chance to explore Old Saigon on foot, visiting the area Nguyen’s parents grew up in. The chef will join the ship for the first three days of the cruise, preparing a welcome dinner.
On the River Mekong, CroisiEurope’s intimate, new-generation ship, RV Indochine II, began operations in August and will carry out its first full-year of sailing in 2018.
CroisiEurope is one of just a few river cruise operators to sail along the Cho Gao Canal between Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) and My Tho. Cruise-only prices start at £1,978 per person for 11 nights.
1 For passengers who’ve booked their flights Down Under, but are concerned about travelling long distances from the key attractions, a cruise around the country is a perfect option.
2 Princess Cruises says frequent cruisers are progressing to the Far East when looking for an alternative to Europe and the Caribbean, so suggest it to die-hard cruise fans looking for something different.
3 Asia and Australasia are often once-in-a-lifetime destinations, so suggest pre- or post-cruise stays and tours to ensure that guests get the best out of the trip.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
The bizarrely named Yorkeys Knob, a beach in Cairns, is among several less-visited ports on P&O Cruises’ 25-night Sydney-Singapore itinerary on Arcadia, departing on 23 February 2018. Other highlights include Brisbane, the Great Barrier Reef, Manila, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Prices start at £2,899, cruise only. pocruises.com
An overnight stay in Myanmar is included in Azamara Club Cruises’ 18-night Indian Ocean Adventure Voyage, which also calls at Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India, onboard Azamara Journey, leaving Singapore on 8 April, 2018. Cruise-only prices start at £3,179pp. azamaraclubcruises.co.uk
An overnight stay in cosmopolitan Melbourne is one of the highlights of Crystal Cruises’ 12-night Perth-Sydney journey on Crystal Symphony, departing on 5 February 2018. It also visits Bunbury, Albany, Burnie, Esperance and Hobart. All-inclusive cruise-only prices are from £3,492pp. crystalcruises.co.uk
AmaWaterways has a 15-night itinerary called Vietnam, Cambodia and Riches of the Mekong, combining two nights in Hanoi, one night in Ha Long Bay, three nights in Siem Reap, a seven-night River Mekong cruise on board the luxurious AmaDara and two nights in Ho Chi Minh City, from £3,679pp in 2018. amawaterways.co.uk
A historical adventure, Uniworld’s 15-day cruise called Timeless Wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia & the Mekong takes in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, before gliding along the River Mekong en route to Phnom Penh, colourful Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. Prices start at £3,919pp, cruise only, including excursions and transfers. uniworld.com
LIZARDS AND OZ
Passengers can come face to face with the world’s largest lizard on Fred. Olsens’ 30-night Australia and the Contrasts of Asia fly-cruise on Black Watch, which takes in Komodo Island. Leaving Brisbane on 5 January 2019, it also calls at Cairns, Darwin, Indonesia, Singapore, Phuket, Thailand and India. Prices start at £5,399, including flights. fredolsencruises.com
Luxury cruise line Ponant has a 16-day cruise discovering the exotic Pacific islands, from Honololu to Papeete, on board Le Boréal. It calls at the Marquesas Islands and the UNESCO biosphere reserve of Fakarava Atoll in the Tuamotu Islands, and concludes in Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia. Prices start at €5,980pp, cruise only. ponant.com
BIG IN JAPAN
The former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters and Japan’s first UNESCO heritage site, Yakushima, are among the attractions on Silversea’s 10-day voyage from Hong Kong to Nagasaki on Silver Discoverer, departing on 15 March 2018. The ship calls at the Philippines and Taiwan en route to Japan. Cruise-only fares start at £6,200pp. silversea.com