AS PASSENGERS FROM CHINA and other Asian nations book cruises to the “exotic” West in record numbers, the opposite is also true. Luxury cruise lines in the West expand their sailings to the once “mysterious” East.
Windstar Cruises leads the pack in this international exchange, increasing its premium small-ship offerings with seven new cruise-tours across Asia in 2019. These 12- to 17-day explorations employ the 212-passenger Star Legend, an all-suite vessel with exceptional dining. (Windstar is the official cruise line of the James Beard Foundation.) The new cruises focus on Asia’s modern cities and ancient sites, from China’s Great Wall to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat. One cruise-tour covers sites in China, Japan and South Korea; another calls on the wonders of Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam; and a third voyage, from Cambodia to Hong Kong, stops in Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Borneo.
For passengers especially intrigued by Japan, Abercrombie & Kent stages a 2019 off-the-beatenpath cruise there May 30–June 13 aboard Ponant’s 199-passenger Le Soleal. This voyage has proven extremely popular in the past, and it is filling fast this time around. Shore excursions include a geisha performance in the Samurai-saturated city of Kanazawa and a noodle-making opportunity in Takamatsu, gateway to Shikoku Island. The cruise includes two nights in Kyoto and port calls at Matsu (the “Town of Water”), Sado Island and Hokkaido, plus a special stop at South Korea’s ancient capital, Gyeongju, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
For China fanciers, Uniworld added a second Yangtze River ship for the 2019 season, the refurbished 124-passenger Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer, a contemporary boutique-style vessel with private balconies and a one-to-one crew-to-passenger ratio. Uniworld’s 11-day Highlights of China & the Yangtze will feature an optional six-day pre-cruise trip to Mongolia and the Gobi Desert.
A notably unusual Asian river cruise has been mounted for 2019 by Minor Hotels’ Mekong Kingdoms cruise division in Laos. The Gypsy is a two-cabin, four-passenger boutique barge that sails the Mekong River on three- and four-day cruises between the Laotian capital of Luang Prabang and Thailand’s Golden Triangle. The wooden river boat boasts a dining area midship and a panoramic open deck at its bow. The all-inclusive cost covers an English-speaking guide, while shore excursions run the gamut from mountain biking, jungle trekking and whiskey tasting to a weaving workshop, an elephant camp visit and a limestone cave tour.
Most Western-based international cruise lines offer Asian sailings, and the industry soared in this part of the world. With passenger numbers jumping 20 percent last year alone, it is prudent for cruise passengers to book well ahead for a maritime journey to the East.
Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.
Seats on new JetBlue flights between New York City (JFK) and Georgetown (GEO), Guyana, are now available for purchase. The route takes off April 2, 2020, on the new Airbus A321neo aircraft. With a flight time of five hours from New York City, the route delivers intrepid travelers to what JetBlue calls “a playground for adventurists and modern-day explorers.” The route also serves the largest Guyanese American community in the United States, located in New York City.
United Airlines announces a number of new routes.
South Korean wellness is all about the jjimjilbang — bathhouses that offer an array of treatments and activities. If you’re only staying in South Korea’s major cities for a short period of time, don’t worry. You can still have an authentic jjimjibang experience. Here are several spots to make it happen.
British Airways launched a new in-flight entertainment channel in honor of its year-long centenary celebration. The new channel, christened Celebrate BA100, highlights the best of British in-flight entertainment.
An industry-first update to the award-winning Four Seasons app allows guests to plan travel more seamlessly. The app, completely overhauled, now includes a new trip planning itinerary feature that allows guests to easily customize their stay.