The ultra-luxury Crystal Cruises is offering dozens of new exotic, off-the-beaten-path and glittering urban centers adventures on Asia voyages through 2015.
The five- to 15-day, all-inclusive, up-market cruises depart and return from an array of irresistible ports: Bali, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kota Kinabalu, Ho Chi Minh City, Beijing, Tokyo, Osaka, Nagasaki and Shanghai.
The six-star Crystal Symphony and the recently-redesigned six-star Crystal Serenity will be sailing a dozen voyages in the region during the remainder of this year. In all, the line has nearly 200 land adventures throughout Asia, with options to book them with private car and driver in most ports.
Among the many new shore-side outings at both off-the-beaten-path ports and major urban centers are exotic places and ancient cultures in Malaysia, Brunei, Myanmar, Indonesia, Japan, and India. For instance, the adventurous land excursions range from sharing drinks with former headhunters in Brunei to witnessing a monk induction ceremony in Myanmar and visits to glorious royal residences, monasteries and rainforests,
The dozens of exotic excursions are highlighted by the experience of Brunei’s varied lifestyles at Bandar Seri Begawan, from the Sultan’s Palace -- the world’s largest residential palace – to more traditional homes, such as that of an over-water village and a longhouse. Here the former headhunting Ibans will welcome passengers with drinks, music, and dance. Today, the people who party together, stay together in every which way, including former headhunters. Not to worry.
The adventuresome can trek the rainforest of Malaysia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kinabalu National Park; crab fish from a thatch-roofed raft while cruising through mangroves; or learn island traditions such as making robes from tree bark or a Malay bread called roti canai. A Martha Stewart dream come true.
At Bali’s less-traveled sister island, lea Lombok, crafty passengers can learn about the local art of dyed fabrics and pearl production or visit a traditional Sisal village, where men still sleep outside their thatched houses to protect their daughters from being kidnapped into marriage. Yeah. Like a thatched home is going to stop the young and the lusty from having fun.
In Indonesia’s Surabaya there will be an opportunity to explore the archaeological ruins of the 14th century Majapahit Empire or watch women hand roll Indonesia’s renowned clove cigarettes. If you don’t smoke, they’re great for smoking a holiday turkey or ham back home.
On Okinawa guests can help design traditional fabrics at a textile factory or hike the 900,000 stalagmite and stalactite-filled Gyokusendo Cave, the Orient’s largest cave of its kind.
Passengers visiting Penang can take a stroll the 130-year-old Waterfall Gardens, then savor a cocktail at the prestigious Eastern & Oriental Hotel, the precursor to Singapore’s famed Raffles Hotel.
In Japan’s bustling capital of Tokyo art lovers can learn eastern Asian shodo handwriting and enjoy a traditional sado tea ceremony at a Japanese garden, or tour sites of more recent history, such as Nissan’s Global HQ and the Cup Noodles Museum. Didn't know there was a cup noodles museum. Did you?
In addition to the day trips, there are two new multi-night Overland Adventures. One is from Shanghai visiting Xi-an and Beijing, China. The second is from Chan May, visiting Hue, Hoi An, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
When you return to the Crystal Symphony or Crystal Serenity, you can be assured that your ‘open dining’ reservation in the main restaurant or one of the many first-class specialty restaurants will be waiting for you. Join your fellow passengers and have a complimentary glass of wine or cocktail before dinner, and share the excitement of your recently concluded land adventure with your dinner partners. Or, relax from your adventurous day at a table for two for a quietly romantic private dinner. It's your cruise, so you can easily set your own pace.
The renowned, six-star Crystal Experience has again been rated the “World’s Best” for the 20th consecutive year in the annual Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards - more than any other cruise line, hotel, or resort in history. Seeing is believing. Click on the colorful slideshow and a highly watchable video tour embedded above to preview what it's like to be on board Crystal Cruises.
A Far East, ultra-deluxe cruise has never been as adventurous or more affordable as it is right now. For the best deals, surf Crystal Cruises at www.crystalcruises.com.
Compiled and written by Don Church and Tony Schillaci, Out and Travelin’