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.
The Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) Convention 2021 will be unlike any other convention before it, as we come together in person for the first time since the business travel industry drastically changed and look forward to rebuilding and reshaping the future. GBTA Convention 2021 will bring all of us together to learn from experts and each other, in-person at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 17–19. The safety of our attendees is our top priority. View health and safety protocols.
I imagine that when writer Hans Christian Andersen mused, “Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale,” he was standing at the edge of Copenhagen’s historic Tivoli Gardens, one of his favorite haunts, enlivened by the swirl of human happiness that surrounded him: children laughing; carousels spinning; games of chance played for prizes; lovers holding hands; hungry people whispering over sweets, hot drinks, beer and towering, open-faced smørrebrød, Denmark’s quintessential sandwich. That fairy tale lives on today at the second-oldest amusement park in the world, a spectacle of folly architecture, bakeries, gardens, rides, restaurants, puppet shows and joy ... and which also happens to be one of the city’s most storied places to convene for business.
The restored Park Hyatt Toronto reopened its doors, bringing luxury, sophistication and glamour alongside a nod to the hotel’s Canadian heritage. Alessandro Munge of Studio Munge collaborated on the hotel’s refresh, drawing inspiration from Canada’s seasons and natural landscapes.
Since its prestige for attracting the world elite grew in the 1960s, Greece remains the go-to destination for glittering holidays. Each step of the journey is enrobed in luxury, from culinary traditions with the highest standard of execution and name-brand, high-end shopping to first-rate wellness locales and elite accommodations, like 5-star hotels, private villas and yachts.
I recently dined at Irwin’s in Philadelphia. The restaurant is located on the rooftop of the Bok Building, a former school turned collective of small businesses, non-profits, artist workshops, a bar and restaurant. I previously visited Bok for the bar and yoga classes, and I was excited to experience the restaurant.
Cathay Pacific reaffirms its commitment to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 with a pledge to use Sustainable Aviation Fuel for 10 percent of its total fuel consumption by 2030. The airline has made pioneering efforts in supporting SAF development for more than 10 years.
Without a doubt, the pandemic changed the role of airports in the travel industry. Hamad International Airport’s role evolved in many ways since the pandemic hit. Now, more than ever, airports are responsible for creating a secure passenger experience. As the gateway to Qatar and the world, the safety and wellbeing of staff and passengers has always been at the core of Hamad International Airport’s strategy.
Arriving early afternoon in Puerto Rico, we jumped in an Uber and took a short, 15-minute drive from the airport to La Concha. As it was Tuesday, the streets were not too busy and the hotel lobby was calm. During the weekend, the scene likely would have been more bustling. We were greeted by a staff member who requested proof of vaccination and government-issued ID, and were given a wristband to indicate we were fully vaccinated. All guests are required to be vaccinated and wear masks at all times while moving around the hotel. Hand sanitizer stations were placed around the lobby, in elevators and in each common area.