Classed as the 11 mainland and island countries located between India, China and Australia, Southeast Asia covers a large area of diverse nations. The ways to take it in by cruise are just as varied, with intensive tours, some of which depart from the UK, or shorter fly-cruise trips.
Most cruises travel to Southeast Asia between November and March, which avoids the hottest and most humid weather, and lets you get more exploring in. It’s still worth noting however, that a smart cruise fan can still travel here virtually all year round. We cover some of the top Southeast Asia cruises across luxury, river cruising and those with immersive excursions, so you can really get to know this corner of the world.
Marella Cruises has become a proud advocate of classic Asian cruises, with itineraries ranging from island hopping jaunts to more culturally infused voyages. Marella intends to expand its Asian cruise offering more and more in the coming years, making this a brilliant time to get ahead of the curve. There are plenty of other options open to you though, in terms of cruise lines and destinations, as you’ll see as we dive into what Southeast Asia offers cruise fans.
If you want to dip your toes into Southeast Asian waters but don’t have much time or the funds for a longer trip, choose a week-long cruise to take in the highlights. Many short cruises leave from Singapore, which has an international airport offering several flight options. It’s a modern city too, meaning you arrive in comfort and style before boarding your cruise ship for some luxurious sailing, and many travellers can feed their shopping addictions in the city’s large boutiques. When you travel with Cunard, that sense of luxury is a given, and best experienced in the effortless elegance of Queen Mary 2, which is often seen in Singapore.
As far as short cruises go, many of the cruises you’ll enjoy if you take this option are a round-tour from Singapore. The city’s on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, making the temples and colourful food options of Malaysia a given, alongside lively port towns like Penang. This vibrant place is a foodie haven, home to Macalister Road, where curries, noodles and street food compete for your tastebuds. That’s certain to make a shore excursion outside your cruise ship worthwhile, and you can see how it compares to the sumptuous fusion meals found on the likes of Marella Discovery, which often stops here when in the region. The cruise ship’s modern design and fantastic Broadway-style entertainment makes it a home from home.
Long trip/multi destination
If your wishlist of places to see in Southeast Asia keeps growing, you can really go to town on a long cruise that spans anything up to 10 weeks. More ambitious cruisers even factor it into a round the world cruise, with top Southeast Asian cities like Manila and Hong Kong featuring on the Grand Round World Cruise by Cruise & Maritime Voyages.
A fortnightly itinerary often proves the most popular option of all. Marella Cruises has several tried and tested favourites, some of which start in the Indian state of Kerala before weaving through Colombo in Sri Lanka to begin the Southeast Asia activities proper in Sabang in Indonesia. Sailing into the region this way evokes a feeling of a pioneering spirit, and you can expect this same kind of cruise to explore the 99 sun-kissed islands of Malaysia’s Langwaki archipelago and the large Thai island of Koh Samui.
Another Marella Cruises option is Colours of the Far East 1, which benefits from the All Inclusive as standard. Beginning and ending in Laem Chabang, a classic Thai port town with a wildlife park nearby, this voyage takes you on a fortnight’s adventure via Phu My, which connects you to tours of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. You’ll then enjoy the sunshine of Langwaki and Penang, together with Singapore and Koh Samui on your way back to Laem Chebang. There are lots of variations of this kind of voyage however, so see which of our deals work best for you.
Destinations to consider
It’s a smart idea to look at the places your Southeast Asia cruise will visit in a little more detail, as we’re looking at one of the world’s most diverse locales. Even beyond the island hopping and beach days we’ve already touched on, there are notable other Asian ports of call you might want to factor into your plans.
The South Korean city of Busan, for instance, has become ever more popular to cruisers. While it’s beloved for its Buddhist temples and Gwangalli Beach, as South Korea’s second largest city after Seoul, Busan also offers fantastic dining, shopping and nightlife.
Hong Kong’s neon, fashion and fast-paced living makes it a city break fan’s dream. Cruises in Southeast Asia often stop here to take in its energy, and even the more traditional cruise ships like Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Columbus and Astor use this city as their gateway to adventure time and time again.
Cambodia is also a popular cruise destination, thanks to famous sites like the Angkor Wat and Siem Reap. Most cruises touch the country’s shores via Sihanoukville, originally called Kampong Som. Even with superb sites further inland, Sihanoukville is worth your attention for its charming cultural quirks and surprisingly rich history.
Less flying, more cruising
You might think that it would be pricey to travel on a long cruise departing from the UK or a nearby European city, and taking in lots of ports on the way to Southeast Asia. But they can actually be a remarkably affordable way of travelling, especially when you only have to factor in a short or one-way flight. Cruise & Maritime Voyages specialises in this kind of journey, as do Cunard cruise ships such as Queen Elizabeth, where white-gloved staff attend to your every wish. Definitely consider this in your plans as you take a look at the deals we can provide.
There are so many ways to explore this beautiful part of the world. For a full line-up, take a look at our latest Southeast Asia cruise deals.
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