The tides have been changing in the global cruise market, with operators turning their attention from the traditional playgrounds of the Caribbean, North America and Europe to Asia. Asia presents a rich and relatively untapped market for the global cruise industry, with its exciting variety of cultures, cuisines as well as leisure and entertainment options. The region’s many positive natural attributes, with more than 25,000 islands, year-round warm weather and calm waters; also make it an ideal cruise playground. CruiseBay lists down few of the major cruise hubs and cruise liners operating in Asia.
Hong Kong, situated in the heart of Asia, is one of the world’s favourite ports, offering cruisers the magnificent Victoria Harbour, a stunning skyline; a cosmopolitan East meets West vibe and world-class terminal facilities. Plus, with easy air access from anywhere in the world, and over 20 cruise lines sailing from this cruise hub, Hong Kong truly is the perfect place to start your cruise. There are a number of terminals operating in Hong Kong at the moment, including Ocean Terminal, China Merchants Wharf, and the soon-to-be-open Kai Tak Cruise Terminal. The Cruise Terminal at Kai Tak is scheduled to debut in late spring and will be capable of housing the world’s largest passenger ships. This super-size terminal (2,789 feet long) will have the world’s largest gangways or passenger boarding bridges and undoubtedly will set the standard for cruise terminals throughout the world.
Hong Kong itself is also a major attraction, and pre- or post-cruise accommodation in the city is always a fantastic way of getting under the skin of its bustling streets, remote islands, ancient Chinese traditions, charming colonial architecture and exciting culinary experiences. You can explore the city with shore excursions offered by the cruise line, or set off on your own adventure. Discover the people and places that shaped Hong Kong — Visit the Taoist temples and Edwardian edifices that nestle between skyscrapers, interact with local people trading on international markets, light incense to bodhisattvas, explore vestiges of Chinese clan heritage & European colonial history that sit side by side, discover splendid 13th century ancestral halls, walled villages, elegant Victorian architecture and WWII relics that tell the story of Hong Kong’s journey from a far flung outpost of Imperial China to a culturally diverse country. If Asia is on your list of “must-cruise” destinations, Hong Kong is the perfect place to start your adventure!
Singapore strategically located at the heart of South East Asia, offers a compelling proposition as a cruise hub of choice with a well-developed maritime eco-system. Singapore is the world’s busiest container port, and increasingly a key cruise hub for both round-the-world cruises and forays around South-East Asia. This city-state is both ultra-modern and deeply traditional with an exciting blend of rampant capitalism and ancient Chinese culture. Brimming with unbridled energy and bursting with exciting events, the city offers countless unique, memorable experiences waiting to be discovered. Strategically located in the city’s new lifestyle and financial hub of Marina Bay, alongside attractions such as the Singapore Flyer and Marina Barrage, the recent Marina Bay terminal looks set to propel Singapore into the major maritime league. Aiming to establish the country as the cruise hub of Asia, the Marina Bay Cruise Centre built on a massive scale of 30,000 square metre and costing $500 million for construction offers impressive views of the downtown Singapore skyline. Walking around the grounds of the terminal, you’ll be able to see impressive views of the downtown Singapore skyline, enjoy a stroll along the waterfront promenade and park, and take in views of the straits of Singapore.
The most important reason being touted as Singapore’s advancing in the global panorama of cruising is its pivotal geographical positioning in the Asian continent. The Lion City is an intriguing kaleidoscope of culture, languages, festivals and cuisines. As a passageway to the rest of the region, cruising to or from Singapore could take you to lush tropical rainforests, colourful open air markets, mystifying ancient cities and white sand beaches. Spend time exploring age-old city streets, duty-free shops and absorbing tourist attractions like Jurong Bird Park and Sentosa Island. Visit Raffles Hotel for a Singapore Sling in their Long Bar, head to the colourful chaos of Chinatown & fragrant Little India, explore open-air wonders await at the Chinese and Japanese gardens, and the stunning National Orchid Garden. Visit Singapore’s most recognizable icon Merlion Park – a mythical creature that represents the city’s humble origins. Stop by Thian Hock Keng (Temple of Heavenly Bliss) and enjoy Singapore’s oldest place of worship. In the evening, take a Night Safari at the Singapore Zoo.
Once known as the Paris of the East, Shanghai now calls itself the Pearl of the Orient. Located in the middle of China’s east coastline, Shanghai is a buzzing city separated in two by the Huangpu River. Shanghai is one of the world’s busiest ports, and became the largest cargo port in the world in 2005. As one of the biggest economic centers in China, Shanghai enjoys preferential geographic advantages, rapid economic development and plenty of tourist attractions – it’s also a city where east meets west. All of these elements make Shanghai an ideal cruise destination in China. In recent years cruising has developed rapidly in Shanghai with the volume of both calls and passenger numbers increasing dramatically. At present, Shanghai Port has three international cruise terminals – Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal, Wusongkou Cruise International Terminal and Waigaoqiao International Cruise Terminal.
As an international city with strong Western influences, Shanghai offers a variety of mansions, garden estates, clubs and cathedrals built by Westerners and sprinkled throughout the city. You can admire the exquisite Yu Garden with its Teahouse and Bridge of Nine Turnings or the Temple of the Jade Buddha. At the Shanghai Museum, you can peruse its works of art, which simultaneously draw you through the pages of Chinese history. Take a guided walking tour exploring the narrow alleys and cobblestoned lanes of the Old Town. No visit to Shanghai would be complete without seeing the wonderful Jade Buddha Temple; featuring a priceless Buddha statue carved from one piece of white jade. The Temple was built in the Song Dynasty and is still an active venue for Buddhist events. Also pay a visit to the Shanghai Museum, one of this city’s foremost treasures. Its collection of 110,000 historical objects and 430,000 reference pieces enjoy worldwide fame.
Cruise liners operating in this region are:
Star Cruises with SuperStar Virgo (Singapore) and SuperStar Libra (Penang)
SuperStar Virgo (Singapore)
Cruise the magical waters of Southeast Asia on the magnificent SuperStar Virgo. Every deck onboard SuperStar Virgo teems with endless fun, entertainment and activities. SuperStar Virgo offers you a luxurious way to cruise through Asian destinations, featuring an art gallery, a video game arcade, four Jacuzzis, and nightly live music. Onboard there are 935 cabins will high-quality amenities. During the day, SuperStar Virgo has a range of entertainment and activities for guests to enjoy. Check in with friends and family back home in Computer World, the internet cafe, or browse the Star Boutique for souvenirs and sundries. As you cruise to the most exotic parts of Asia on this floating five-star resort, its more than 25 outlets of food and beverage, entertainment and recreation outlets will impress you. In fact, it is the only cruise ship in the world that has an authentic Indian restaurant on board that is certified ‘halal’.
SuperStar Libra (Penang)
SuperStar Libra is designed to meet the changing needs of today’s passengers, challenging the conventional model of cruising by providing a more relaxed, resort-style cruise, complete with flexibility and non-intrusive services of the highest standard. The SuperStar Libra has 740 cabins and a passenger capacity of 1,480 passengers. Guests can choose from a range of suites and staterooms that appeal to all tastes and budgets. Escape the stress of everyday life, as SuperStar Libra brings you to a world-class exclusive floating resort in the high seas offering you an impressive array of facilities, entertainment, recreational activities and services coupled with warm Asian hospitality, which have become the hallmarks of Star Cruises.
Countries covered by Star Cruises: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China & Japan.
Costa Cruises with Costa Atlantica
The Costa Atlantica blends a Venetian-themed atmosphere with a collection of paparazzi photographs celebrating film stars. The interior of Costa Atlantica is strikingly different from the other ships of the fleet. Costa Atlantica is the first Costa ship to have its own theme. As a consequence each of the twelve passenger decks are named after movies directed by Federico Fellini, and drawings by cartoonist Milo Manara are displayed throughout the ship creating a lasting tribute to the famous Italian film director. The décor of some rooms is also in Fellini’s memory. Each space has a different personality, as Costa Cruises strives to create an ever-changing atmosphere and the layout of the public areas encourage people to move from place to place and to gather is small groups. The ship offers ample opportunity to get the blood pumping. Start the morning with a jog around the 180-meter track, perfect your serve on the tennis court, or work out in the fitness center. After, you’ll have three swimming pools (one is covered), a children’s pool, and four whirlpools in which to unwind. See if luck is on your side in the Fortuna Casino or in the card room, then treat yourself to a soothing massage at the Terme Ischia Spa or try a new look at the beauty salon. Other relaxing alternatives include reading in the library, exploring the winter garden, and duty-free shopping at the Via della Spiga mall.
Countries covered by Costa Atlantica: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Hong Kong, Japan & Vietnam.
Royal Caribbean with Mariner and Legend of the Seas
Mariner of the Seas
Mariner of the Seas is a floating resort at sea, perfect for a relaxing and stress-free holiday. Whether you’ve had an action-packed day sightseeing or a lazy day cruising, you can head back to an airy, comfortable and relaxing room. Mariner of the Seas staterooms are subtly decorated in soft, tranquil colors and range from lavishly appointed two-storey suites with private balcony and personalized concierge service, to compact rooms to suit any budget – each with the same attention to comfort and detail. Spend the day onboard Mariner of the Seas in the Royal Promenade, with shopping, bars, and cafes or curl up with a good book in the well-stocked and cozy library. Take in a destination-specific enrichment seminar or try ice skating in Studio B. There are also cruise favourites like bingo, art auctions, and craft workshops daily. For the more adventurous passengers – Check out the golf simulators, or play a round of 9-hold mini-golf, play some basketball on the full-size court, work out in the huge fitness center, go ice-skating, or in-line skating – and there’s even a rock-climbing wall or simply relax after your workout at the day spa!
Legend of the Seas
Filled with creative and innovative touches, Legend of the Seas offers its passengers panoramic views, themed dining areas, an 18-hole mini-golf course, and Royal Caribbean’s signature rock-climbing wall. The ship’s state-of-the-art solarium showcases a retractable glass canopy to shield guests when less desirable weather strikes. A whole host of facilities and activities await passengers each day, including two swimming pools, four whirlpools, and an outdoor jogging track. At the Boutiques of Centrum, guests will find a gift shop, jewelry shop, perfumery, clothing boutique, liquor store, and souvenir shop. Trained staff organizes and supervises arts-and-crafts sessions, scavenger hunts, and science demonstrations for children. In the evenings, guests can place their bets in the Casino Royale, mingle in one of several bars and lounges, take in live entertainment, or steal away to a quiet area of the ship to watch the stars.
Countries covered by Royal Caribbean Cruises: Singapore, Malaysia, Phuket, Penang, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Vietnam & South Korea.
Princess Cruises to dedicate a ship in Asia from 2014 onwards
Responding to the growing interest in cruising Southeast Asia, Princess Cruises’ 2,670-passenger Sapphire Princess will sail from Singapore for a four-month fall 2014 to spring 2015 season. The itineraries will offer more destinations from Singapore on Princess Cruises than on any other cruise line, calling at seven countries and 16 ports. The wide range of cruise lengths will run three, four, five, seven, 10 and 11 days, providing passengers with a wide array of vacation experiences. The itineraries will combine the region’s major metropolises such as Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Kuala Lumpur, with smaller, off-the-beaten path resort destinations, including Penang, Ko Samui and Langkawi. One unique itinerary of note is a 10-day Indonesia sailing that visits Jakarta, Bali, Komodo Island and Lombok.
The Princess product offered onboard Sapphire Princess will be substantially the same award winning product offered around the world, providing a relaxed retreat at sea and an endless variety of entertaining, engaging options and signature innovations such as Movies Under the Stars and The Sanctuary. Furthermore, Princess’ friendly crew delivers warm and welcoming service allowing passengers to escape completely with Princess – The Consummate Host.
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