With more ships and better destinations, Asia is mounting a concerted bid to become one of Australia’s big new cruise destinations.
Last year, more than 24 per cent more Australians took to ships out of Singapore, Malaysia and the big river cruise destinations of Vietnam and Myanmar.
So who has new ships in Asia for this cruise season, and where should new cruisers start?
Here are Cruise Passenger’s picks:
1. Royal Caribbean
Leading the charge is Royal Caribbean International (RCI), which recently signed a deal with Singapore Tourism Board and Changi Airport to promote fly-cruise itineraries from Singapore.
An expected 170,000 foreign holiday makers from Asia, Europe and the USA are expected to embark on RCL cruises from Singapore during the wave season, with the line expecting 50 per cent more cruisers to Singapore on the back of longer itineraries from Marina Bay Cruise Centre.
The line’s 11-deck, 2000-passenger Legend of the Seas has returned to Singapore this week to be homeported there until November. Legend will offer three- to 14-night voyages calling at 19 ports in 10 countries, including Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia during her Singapore season.
Luxury small-ship line Seabourn is offering a line-up of Asia itineraries including visits to UNESCO World heritage sites on Seabourn Sojourn.
“This year we are adding our extended cruise holidays to Myanmar, multiple ports in Java and Borneo, and islands in the Philippines, to offer even more exceptional experiences,’’ John Delaney, Seabourn’s senior vice president, marketing and sales said.
During the cruises, passengers would have a chance to visit World Heritage sites including Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Mount Kinabalu National Park in Borneo.
3. Princess Cruises
Princess Cruises is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year with its “biggest sale ever.’’ Check availability on the line’s various cruises including Diamond Princess’s three-day cruise from Singapore to Malaysia, four-day round trip to Thailand or five-day voyage from Japan to Korea. All journeys will take place next year.
Australia’s oldest cruise line, P&O Cruises, is in Asia this season with its new ship Pacific Eden. Australians will be able to enjoy seven- to 14-night journeys from Singapore in the familiar surroundings of an Australian ship with Australian dollars – despite the falling dollar against the greenback.
5. Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line has recently launched its exotic new itineraries to Asia onboard Norwegian Star for the brand’s autumn/winter 2016/2017 deployment.
Norwegian offers guests new destinations and new ports with itineraries departing from Istanbul, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney and Auckland.
This marks the line’s return to the Asia and Australia regions for the first time since Norwegian Wind fall/winter 2001-2002 and first visits to India.
And it seems Asia will become more popular, as “fly and flop” passengers have switched from traditional resorts holidays in Fiji and the South Pacific to cruise in Bali, Phuket, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand, said Alastair Fernie, the general manager of Ecruising.