Asia is a fast-growing market for cruising: cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Holland America, Cunard Line and Celebrity Cruises have a significant and growing presence there.
According to the Cruise Lines International Association, Asia now ranks fourth among the world’s cruise markets in cruise capacity, behind only the Mediterranean, Caribbean and Europe. Some of the growth is due to the increasing popularity of cruise vacations among residents of Asia, but the demand is coming from North American travelers, too.
Destinations such as China and Thailand are “wish list” travel destinations for North America’s millennial generation (a group that also appreciates the affordability and value provided by cruise vacations). And, as members of the baby boom generation retire, they are looking at cruise destinations beyond the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, too.
POTENTIAL SAILING ROUTES
Asia’s variety of cultures, landscapes and attractions all help make it an excellent region for cruising. Some cruises focus on Japan, sailing round-trip from Tokyo. Port calls can include Nagasaki, historic Hashima Island, Otaru and Aomori, among others. Some of these cruises also visit Busan or Jeju City, South Korea; a few also call on Korsakov, Russia. Korsakov, at the southern end of Sakhalin Island, has a unique mix of Russian, Korean and Japanese cultures.China’s capital, Beijing, is technically not a port city – it’s about 70 miles inland from Tianjin, where cruise ships dock – but it’s a mainstay of Asian cruise itineraries. Cruise ships often stay overnight to give guests more time to see this fascinating city. And, Beijing holds so many cultural and historic treasures that it’s a wonderful place for a pre- or post-cruise stay. Cruises that focus on China often call on two more equally exotic, but very different Chinese cities: Shanghai and Hong Kong.Hong Kong is also a port of departure for cruises of Southeast Asia. These cruises visit a wonderful variety of countries and ports, such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang, Vietnam; Bangkok, Thailand; and Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Sihanoukville, the only deepwater port in Cambodia, is a real experience. Many visitors choose to spend time on the world-famous beaches, but you can also explore Ream National Park, temples on Sihanouk Mountain, or the wares of the goldsmiths and many other vendors at Psar Lu Market.
Some itineraries sail southeast from Hong Kong to visit Manila, Philippines; and Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi, or Penang, Malaysia. Penang’s attractions include its melting pot of cultures, cuisines and places of worship: you’ll find Chinese clan houses, Muslim mosques, Hindu temples and Christian churches.The cruise lines have learned that shorter, more affordable cruises are popular among Asian travelers. If you choose a cruise of four to seven nights, you can get a taste of different parts of East and Southeast Asia and allow time for a pre- or post-cruise stay on land. Of course, you can choose a cruise of eight to 14 nights or more, too. Another option is to combine an ocean cruise with a cruise of China’s Yangtze River or Myanmar’s Mekong River, so that you will see some of Asia’s beautiful interior, like the famous Great Wall of China. With so many options for seeing Asia via cruise, let an experienced cruise travel professional guide you to your ideal itinerary and ship. To begin planning your exploration of Asia, contact a Cruise Specialists team member or view our featured Asia sailings.