You could spend an entire lifetime exploring all the regions of Asia via cruise. Whether you want to explore the vastly evolving Chinese culture, bustling and diverse India, or the sun-splashed coastlines of the Maldives or Indonesia, there’s a cruise waiting for those with an adventurous spirit.
Different Types of Asian Cruises:
- Adventurous Travelers
- Retirees or those with Lengthy Vacation Time
If You Go:
- All-Asian itineraries
- Segments of world cruises
- Repositioning cruises that may start in places such as Alaska and end in China
- River Cruises
Major Regions to Explore:
- Be aware that customs in many regions of Asia can be vastly different from mainstream North America.
- In Muslim countries, dress conservatively when going ashore: long-sleeved shirts and long pants (not shorts or capris) made of light cotton or linen are appropriate.
- Women need a head covering (a scarf will do) to visit a mosque.
- Take care when you use your camera: in many places, it’s considered offensive to photograph Muslim women.
- Allow plenty of time for processing of visas before you go, and make sure you know the requirements for carrying ID with you when off the cruise ship.
- Stay with your tour guide – if you wander on your own, it may be difficult to find someone who speaks English to assist you, depending on the country.
- Bring bottled water offered by the cruise line on shore excursions to help avoid any cases of "travelers" tummy.”
While China has been steadily emerging as a destination for ocean-going cruises, many cruise enthusiasts are surprised by the variety of itineraries available for seeing the cities and scenery along the country’s long eastern coastline. Many of these itineraries include ports in neighboring countries, such as Japan, Taiwan or Vietnam, providing a more complete Asian cruise experience.
Be sure to visit Beijing (via the port of Tianjin) with Tian’anmen Square and its Forbidden City, as well as Xiamen, Dalian and Hong Kong.
Chinese River Cruises
For a truly China-centric cruise experience, you might also consider a cruise of the country’s mighty Yangtze (Yellow) River, which passes through spectacular scenery. Or, consider a "cruisetour” package that combines your cruise with a land-based exploration of China’s interior.
If you’re looking for a new cruise experience, consider an itinerary that includes port calls on the subcontinent of India. Ornate temples, bustling bazaars, Victorian-era museums, the smell of spices in the air – India’s ports offer all this and more.
India’s cruise ship ports:
- Mumbai and Kochi are the primary ports, both on the country’s Arabian Sea
- Goa, an emerging port, also on the Arabian Sea
- Chennai (formerly known as Madras), on the Bay of Bengal
Some cruise lines include port calls in India as part of a world cruise or a longer Asian itinerary.
Four letters that may best describe Indonesia may be Bali. Part of Indonesia, it is not part of the South Pacific as many people assume, but rather between the Indian Ocean and the Java Sea. Interest in off-the-beaten path destinations such as Indonesia is fueling an interest in cruises to this country, but plan well in advance as cruise options are still relatively limited.
- Situated in northeastern Asia between the North Pacific and the Sea of Japan
- Four major islands, surrounded by more than 4,000 smaller islands
- Coastlines include varied scenery with towering mountains made from volcanoes
Popular Japanese cruise ports:
- Tokyo, Japan’s capital and center of political, economic and cultural life
- Hiroshima with its Peace Memorial Park
- Osaka, one of the premier vacation spots in Japan
The Maldives, a collection of more than 1,000 islands, lies in the Indian Ocean, just south of the equator. About 90 islands are developed for tourism. The unique topography of this region makes it ideal for diving and other water sports. The Maldives are considered to be one of the top tropical beach destinations in the world. The Maldives are primarily served by only the smallest, most exclusive cruise ships.
Malaysia is a cultural and economic melting pot, with everything from towering skyscrapers to wooden houses on stilts, and from five-star hotels to ancient reefs barely accessible to humans. Experience fun in the sun with diving or golfing, or eat your way through the country with delicious foods courtesy of the ethnic Malay, Chinese, Indian or indigenous populations. Ports of call include Kuala Lampur (Port Klang) and Penang.
Cruise ships call on the Port of Manila. It’s The Philippines’ largest city, so it affords numerous opportunities for shopping and exploring the local culture. Visitors may be enticed by the country’s vast network of beaches. A very limited number of North American cruise lines visit The Phillipines, and port calls here are often part of longer world cruises.
A cruise of northern Europe often includes one of the most scenic and fascinating cities in all of Russia: St. Petersburg.
St. Petersburg landmarks include:
- The Hermitage, one of the world’s top art museums, featuring more than three million works of art and artifacts.
- The Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood, a marvelous Russian-styled church (translations of this church’s name vary)
- Peter & Paul Fortress
- A number of spectacular imperial palaces surrounded by parks and gardens
Because there is so much to see, many visiting cruise ships spend 1 or 2 nights docked in St. Petersburg.
Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos)
Southeast Asia is often defined by the 3 countries of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. While many tourists visit these countries as part of land vacation packages, there are a growing number of cruise itineraries that visit.
Southeast Asia River Cruises
- Exploding in popularity, especially voyages on the Mekong River
- Explore Vietnam and Cambodia and get a taste of authentic, local culture
Cruises to South Korea make their port of call in Inchon (or Incheon). It’s only about an hour’s drive to Seoul, South Korea’s vibrant capital. Duty-free shops, as well as shopping malls and markets are abundant. Cruises to South Korea via major cruise lines are rare, so be sure to plan well in advance to secure your preferred stateroom and itinerary.
East meets West in Turkey, especially its largest city, Istanbul.
- Istanbul sits on both the European and Asian sides of the Bosphorus
- The only metropolis in the world that is situated on two continents
- Divided into two parts, the old and the new city
- The old city’s historic and cultural treasures include Topkapi Palace, the Underground Cistern, the Hippodrome, St. Sophia (Hagia Sophia) and the Blue Mosque.
- The Grand Bazaar entails 58 streets and 1,200 shops under one covered area – and the Spice Market is a true Turkish delight!
As there is so much to experience, Cruise Holidays highly recommends staying an extra day or two prior to (or after) a cruise that embarks or disembarks in Turkey.
United Arab Emirates
Cruises that include ports in the United Arab Emirates provide an exotic and memorable experience.
Dubai, one of the seven United Arab Emirates, is a sleek and quickly developing city on the Persian Gulf. Its spectacular skyscrapers provide a backdrop for sparkling beaches.
The impressive skyline of Abu Dhabi, another Emirate, earned it the nickname "Manhattan of the Middle East."
To learn more about the many options for an Asian cruise, please contact Shari Marsh