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 Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua recently announced the final phase of a $100 million resort-wide transformation, set to be unveiled by the end of 2022. Located across 54 acres of pristine, wide-open space overlooking Honokahua Bay, The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua is a sanctuary for guests seeking a luxurious escape.
Whether you prefer a villa on the beach or an ultra-luxe suite downtown, you’ll find everything you’re looking for in Los Cabos.
Banyan Tree Group recently announced its first-ever expansion into Japan with five new properties across four concepts. The hospitality group’s partnership with Wealth Management Group saw Dhawa Yura and Garrya Nijo Castle launch in June, with two more properties slated to open now through 2026. Another partnership with Terraform Capital sees plans to build Cassia, a property in the ski resort of Niseko.
Start planning that long-awaited trip to the island of Ireland. With all travel restrictions now lifted, there has never been a better time to visit.
Wilderness Reserve, an 8,000-acre estate of historic and charming properties, woodlands and lakes, invites visitors to its newly launched YOXMAN, a three-day, Michelin-starred dining experience. Four United Kingdom chefs come together to prepare an array of different cuisines throughout the weekend, and guests are treated to plenty of entertainment throughout the experience.
Considering an autumnal adventure or Thanksgiving trip this year? Well, with walkable cities, cozy pubs and lots of seasonal festivals, the island of Ireland is calling. And if you need more reasons to Press the Green Button and go, take a look and see what awaits you on the Emerald Isle …
Rosewood Hotels & Resorts adds to its growing collection with Rosewood Hotel Bauer, slated to open in Venice in 2025. Led by Venice-based architect Alberto Torsello and interior design group BAR Studio, the property will lie in the city’s historic San Marco district.