ASIA FOR AUSTRALIANS
Asia has become a major cruise destination for Australians in just a few short years. In days gone by, the only way to cruise this stunning region was by flying to a port like Singapore and taking a short, localised itinerary. Occasionally a round world cruise voyage would pass through the region.
Today it is a whole new world with dozens of ships serving the region. Around 40,000 Australians will cruise Asia this year, almost as many as New Zealand and putting it ahead of all other overseas destinations, except the Pacific.
Asia has primarily been a single destination market for Aussies…you simply fly to Bali or Thailand and spend your holiday soaking up the sun in a resort. Cruising allows you to see several countries and cover a lot of territory with ease.
How else could you be in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and China in just a handful of days? No lengthy customs delays at airports, no waiting for delayed flights or facing the traffic chaos in a taxi. You simply glide into town on your ship and walk into a whole new culture.
Best of all, you can now board your ship in Australia. A large number of cruises allow you to either board here and fly home or vice versa. You can also buy add-on land packages which allow you to extend your holiday in places like Hong Kong, Beijing and Singapore.
Most cruises in the region visit the major ports of Singapore, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo. The concept of visiting unspoilt islands in the manner of a South Pacific or Caribbean cruises has not yet evolved.
Another major market in Asia is the chance for passengers to board a ship for part of a world voyage. For example, on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 this year you could select Fremantle, Adelaide or Sydney to Singapore, taking in New Zealand, Guam, Japan, China and Vietnam. Costs ranged from $7,699 for an outside cabin over 27 nights.
It would be impossible to independently visit all these countries in luxury accommodation with all meals, entertainment and transfers included for anything near this price.
The western part of Asia and the Indian Ocean are also becoming popular. Princess Cruises, for example, featured a 46 night itinerary out of Fremantle visiting 17 ports including Malaysia, India, the Maldives and South Africa,
Major players in the Asian market include:
Famed for their laid back American tropical style. Several ships based in Australia in the coming year-Diamond Princess, Sapphire Princess, Ocean Princess, Dawn Princess, Sun Princess and Sea Princess.
Dominated the Asian market for many years before the current influx. Still popular with Australians.
Pacific Sun will be based in Fremantle for a period and will visit Bali, Lombok, Komodo, and Semarang.
Famed for their relaxed style while upholding the British cruising traditions. Ships visiting include Arcadia, Aurora and Oriana.
Offers well-priced Asian packages in Italian style ships to the most popular ports, sailing out of Singapore.
Seabourn Cruise Lines:
Seabourn Odyssey will be based here and will bring the cruise line’s famous style and service to the region.
Holland America Line:
Australia is now its third largest market. Volandam and Zaandam will be based here over summer
The new Celebrity Solstice will spend some time in Asian and Australian waters next year. This five star floating resort has balconies in most cabins.
Amongst the finest ships afloat, Cunard icons will pass through the region this year and in 2015, Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth.
Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony will bring their upscale style to the region.
Ships visiting the region include Rhapsody of the Seas which has proved very popular with Australians. Radiance of the Seas will also visit.
Regent Seven Seas:
Navigator, Voyager and Regatta will visit. An example of cruises available is 17 nights aboard Seven Seas Voyager Singapore to Sydney priced from $10,388.
Other operators in Asia include Silversea, Swan Hellenic, MSC and Oceania. Look for reviews in Australian Cruise Magazine in the coming months.