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There’s a Christmas tree and a gingerbread house. But no-one is dreaming of the white fluffy stuff this Santa season aboard the SeaDream II.

The Nassau-registered luxury small ship is making one of its first voyages in Asia – seven days from Singapore to Phuket in Thailand.

The vessel is expected to stay in the region until April, 2014. The move, according to SeaDream, is at the behest of regular passengers looking for new destinations and not an attempt to carve out niche in the burgeoning Asian region.

And they certainly have regular passengers.

One guest aboard this trip has sailed more than 500 days on SeaDream II, and 75 per cent of those on the Christmas passage have been on the ship before.

Cruise Passenger was aboard the December 21 departure from Singapore – so watch out for our full review in the next issue of our magazine. It makes for interesting reading.

There are 116 passengers and 13 nationalities making the trip, ten of them Australian.

It was ironic that, as we left Singapore, The Europa 2 was also departing for Hong Kong.

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SeaDream II meets Europa 2.

The uber-lux Hapag-Lloyd “five star plus” liner is a sign of the kind of competition for the Asian and Australian markets that has been building for the past two years.

As we walked to our solitary gangplank at the Singapore Cruise Centre, Europa’s passengers were having a cocktail party on the quayside.

SeaDream, with its casual but chic style and catchphrase “It’s yachting, not cruising” should be a shoe-in for the new, young, and fashion-conscious Asian markets.

But, as the crew of SeaDream II readily admits, the 11-year-old line still has its L-plates on when it comes to destinations in Asia.

The journey from Singapore to Malacca, the home of Nonya culture and cooking, was made all the easier thanks to SeaDream’s passion for courteous service and fine dining.

Readers may recall our review of Sudesh Kishore’s “raw cuisine” from our magazine’s spring issue. It’s good for your body – and it’s yummy!

But the next SeaDream stop was a puzzle. Instead of the beautiful beaches of Pangkor Island, perfect for a vessel known for its watersports and just around the corner, we parked in front of a desolate pier at the town of Lumut.

No offensive, but even the residents of Lumut were queueing at the town’s ferry terminal to leave for Pangkor Island.

Next stops are Penang Island, renown for laksa and art. And we are going to Phi Phi Islands, where Leonardo DiCaprio filmed The Beach.