Cruising as a tourist endeavour has truly stood the test of time and is one of the fastest growing travel sectors today.
Part of the reason for its success is the way it has diversified to meet the needs of today’s more sophisticated and demanding customers. That’s certainly the case in Asia where guests can indulge themselves in an amazing array of water-bound experiences on the region’s rivers and seascapes.
In many ways, travelling by boat is one of the most natural ways to navigate Asia. In areas such as the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, one of the most impressive stretches of water anywhere in the world, river vessels are an integral part of life. It is a similar scenario in other parts of the region such as Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. In Indonesia, meanwhile, boats are the main link between the countless islands that make up the archipelago.
For guests, voyages in Asia vary wildly in scope and in style.
The region’s oceans brim with maritime promise. In Vietnam, karst-studded Halong Bay is arguably the nation’s most compelling tourist must-see attraction. A visit to the north of the country is not complete without a trip to Halong Bay, where placid waters give way to more than 3,000 limestone karsts and wind-sculpted limestone formations just from foggy lagoons.
Dotting the bay are tiny islands bordered by white sandy coves and hidden caves, adding to the majestic landscape of this UNESCO World Heritage site. Spending a night amidst this splendour on a luxurious boat is a true highlight of visiting Vietnam.
Less touristy, but no less amazing are the seascapes of the Komodo National Park in Indonesia. On a cruise in this pristine environment guests can experience crystal clear waters and active volcanoes as well as islands where the most prominent members of the animal community are the famous Komodo Dragons, the world’s largest lizards.
The rivers of Asia are equally amenable for cruises. Rising in China and flowing to the Pacific through Laos. Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, the mighty Mekong is undoubtedly the most important river in Southeast Asia. It is also one of the world’s most rewarding cruise destinations. Many cruise routes ply the lower reaches of the river through Cambodia and Vietnam, while more still operate further up the river in Laos where encounters with various ethnic groups and visits to wondrous caves full of Buddha statues are part of the journey.
In Myanmar, the Mekong takes a backseat to the Irrawaddy River when it comes to cruise adventures. The largest country in mainland Southeast Asia is also perhaps its least discovered. With Myanmar opening up for both business and tourism, now is definitely the time to experience the riverine landscapes of this enchanting country in a (relatively) virgin state. On a cruise up the Irrawaddy guests will observe golden pagodas and old colonial ports while getting lost in the rhythms of old Asia.
OVERNIGHT BOAT CRUISE ON HALONG BAY (2 DAYS / 1 NIGHT)
Escape from the buzz of Hanoi with an overnight cruise on Halong Bay. Be surrounded by stunning views of limestone karsts rising dramatically from the Bay’s deep blue waters. Watch the sun set from the ship’s deck and fall asleep to the gentle sound of waves lapping against the boat.
LEISURELY CRUISING KOMODO (3 DAYS / 2 NIGHTS)
Encounter giant lizards, snorkel around coral reefs and capture tropical sunsets on a three-day cruise. Board Plataran Felicia, a traditional phinsi schooner, and cruise around the Komodo Islands. Go ashore to see exotic wildlife then dive underwater to discover a marine world filled with colorful fish, rays and turtles.
SAILING THE MERGUI ARCHIPELAGO (6 DAYS / 5 NIGHTS)
Sail the Mergui Archipelago on this five day cruise passing through its 800 unspoiled islands. Make a stop along the way to do some fun water activities such as snorkeling and kayaking, and get a chance to meet locals living in small villages and learn about their way of life living.
LUANGSAY CRUISE AND KAMU LODGE (3 DAYS / 2 NIGHTS)
Take a slow, scenic journey on the Mekong River from Luang Prabang to Thailand. Embrace the slow rhythms of life on the water during the day as the boat cruises upstream. Stop in rural villages in the evenings to experience, first hand, the timeless traditions of Laos.
TREASURES OF THE MEKONG (5 DAYS / 4 NIGHTS)
Savour Cambodia’s rich culture and laid-back rhythm on a five-day river cruise. Meander the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers, going ashore to explore hidden temples and wander amid tranquil villages. Relax onboard the luxurious boat and gaze upon scenes of life as they slowly drift by.
OVERNIGHT CRUISE ON THE MEKONG (2 DAYS / 1 NIGHT)
Take a closer look at the Mekong Delta with a memorable overnight cruise. Board a charming river boat and cast off through the channels of this vibrant waterway. Cruise to riverside villages for glimpses of local life, explore cottage industries and visit the Delta’s famous floating markets.