Taking the gang on a cruise takes away the hassle of planning your trip, from food to hotels and activities. sasha gonzales recommends these? ve family-friendly itineraries to book now.
8D/7N China-Vietnam Cruise by Star Cruises
Ship: Superstar Virgo
Departs from: Hong Kong
Itinerary: Overnight, from Hong Kong, the cruise liner makes its way to Nansha, China, the Pearl River gateway to Guangzhou. This port of call boasts many special attractions, like Nansha Tianhou Palace, an ancient wonder, and Lianxi Village, home to the fabled historic monument Mai’s Ancestral Hall.
The next day, it sails the high seas to Vietnam. The first stop in Vietnam is Halong Bay, a Unesco World Heritage site known for its emerald waters and towering limestone islands topped by rainforests. As you cruise into the bay, you will notice junk ships and floating villages. Spend the day exploring the markets or doing a junk boat tour.
In the evening, the ship heads to Da Nang, the provincial capital of central Vietnam, famed for its quaint tree-lined boulevards and French colonial architecture. Next stop, Sanya, in Hainan, China. This holiday paradise is sometimes called the Hawaii of the East because of its white-sand beaches and clear blue waters. It is also home to Nanshan Temple, where the world’s tallest statue of the Goddess of Mercy stands. From Sanya it is back to Nansha and then the final port in Hong Kong.
What’s on board? The Superstar Virgo is the flagship of Star Cruises’ Asian fleet, featuring a wide range of entertainment options, from shows by Europe’s top illusionist Vincent Vignaud, to elaborate theatrical productions and musicals, ballroom dancing performances, band performances, talent shows, and mini concerts by famous pop artistes from Hong Kong and Taiwan, like Tiger Huang, Andy Hui and William So. Of course, you could also entertain yourselves with a karaoke session in a private karaoke room, or enjoy a few games with the kids in the Starlight Video Arcade. Cost: From $1,535 a person, sails on June 11, 2016. For more information, go to www.starcruises.com.
MOST FUN FOR KIDS
16N Australia Top End Cruise by Royal Caribbean
Ship: Radiance of the Seas
Departs from: Sydney, Australia
Itinerary: From Sydney, you’ll set sail for Brisbane, home to gorgeous palm-fringed beaches, lush rainforests and great shopping. It then heads to Cairns, where you can windsurf, sail, swim, snorkel or scuba-dive at the Great Barrier Reef, or drop by its Unesco World Heritage-listed rainforest. The next port of call, Darwin, is an exciting city with most of the urban action centred along the revitalised waterfront. From Australia’s “Top End”, the ship sails to Bali in Indonesia. Spend the day checking out the architectural and cultural attractions, shopping, eating or relaxing on the beach.
After another day of sailing, the ship returns to the Western Australian town of Port Hedland, right in the heart of a region rich in indigenous culture and history. From here, it’s on to Geraldton in Western Australia, a sunny resort town known for its water sports, wildlife exploration and fishing. The next day, the ship sails into port-of-arrival Fremantle, the ocean gateway to the city of Perth.
What’s on board? Radiance of the Seas boasts an award-winning Adventure Ocean Youth Program tailored to different age groups – Aquanauts (ages three to five), Explorers (ages six to eight), Voyagers (ages nine to 11), tweens and teens. The specialised activities range from science experiments and scavenger hunts, to painting, talent shows, sports tournaments and video games. There are also interactive playgroup sessions and activities for babies and tots. Cost: From A$1,950 (S$1,929) a person. Sails on Oct 31, 2016. For more information, go to www.royalcaribbean.com.au.
BEST FOR FOODIES
9D Taiwan & Ryukyu Islands Cruise by Princess Cruises
Ship: Diamond Princess
Departs from: Yokohama, Japan
Itinerary: From this bustling metropolis, the ship sails south to Okinawa, the largest island in the Ryukyu archipelago. Here, you can explore the 12th century Shurijo Castle, the modern Okinawa Prefectural Museum that is dedicated to preserving Okinawan art and history, and Churaumi Aquarium, which has 77 tanks featuring whale sharks, manta rays and colourful coral.
Next stop: Taipei, the Taiwanese capital, which offers excellent shopping and cultural attractions. Make time for Taipei 101, which, at 101 stories, is the world’s second tallest skyscraper. And visit the National Palace Museum: Its amazing collection spans over 8,000 years and includes precious objects amassed by ancient emperors.
From here, it’s on to Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s second largest city. Visit the 300-year-old Lotus Lake, with its enchanting pagodas, temples and shrines, and Chijin Island, home to Old Street, an area teeming with quaint shops and fresh seafood stands. Before heading back to Tokyo, the ship stops at Hualien in Taiwan, famed for its mineral hot springs, temples and architecture.
What’s on board? The Diamond Princess serves great-tasting cuisine in all its dining outlets, including Italian restaurant Sabatini’s, which specialises in fresh pasta, and Kai Sushi, which serves fresh sushi and sashimi. Princess Cruises has forged partnerships with celebrity chefs like Curtis Stone, chocolate expert Norman Love, and Ernesto Uchimura, a founding chef of the original Umami Burger, all of whom have designed menus for its restaurants – the cruise company takes its food seriously. Cost: From $1,900 a person, sails on June 15, 2016. For more information, go to www.princess.com.
7N Pacific Island Hopper Cruise by P&O Cruises
Ship: Pacific Dawn
Departs from: Brisbane, Australia
Itinerary: It includes stops at three ports in the South Pacific. Along the way, you’ll glimpse beautiful atolls and some of the clearest turquoise-blue waters you’ve ever seen. From Brisbane, the ship sails eastward to Noumea. This first part of the cruise takes about two days, and upon arrival in Noumea, you’ll have about seven hours of free time. Sign up for the Mt Koghi Nature Discovery shore tour, which takes you on a drive through Noumea’s remarkable countryside, or the Feathers & Fauna tour, where you’ll walk through a peaceful wildlife sanctuary that’s home to a variety of wild and domestic birds, as well as several ponds and lakes.
At the next port of call of Lifou in New Caledonia, you can opt to go off on your own or join a shore tour, like the Forest & Secret Grotto tour. The Secret Grotto reveals fascinating formations of stalagmites and stalactites, visible by torchlight. Port Vila in Vanuatu is the final port of call before the ship heads back to Brisbane. Be sure to check out the stunning waterfalls or get a bird’s-eye view of the town by helicopter.
What’s on board? For the best ocean views, book a Balcony Room or a Mini Suite. Otherwise, there is no shortage of beautiful scenery from most spots on the ship, including the observation deck. The Pacific Dawn boasts a number of highly rated facilities, such as the P&O Edge Adventure Park, where you can try different adrenaline-packed activities like zip-lining and funnel climbing. Cost: From A$599 a person, sails on June 4, 2016. For more information, go to www.pocruises.com.au.
12D Indonesian Discovery by Holland America Line
Ship: MS Volendam
Departs from: Singapore
Itinerary: The cruise takes you through several main ports in Indonesia. The first stop, after nearly two days at sea, is the historic city of Tanjung Priok in Jakarta. The day is yours to explore – visit the National Museum of Indonesia chronicling 16 centuries of history, wander the streets of Old Town and learn about Dutch colonial architecture, stop at US president Barack Obama’s old school, or shop at one of the city’s malls.
The next port of call is Semarang in Java, where you can take a coach to the famed Borobudur temple or step back into the colonial days of the Dutch East India Company in Old Semerang. From here, the ship moves on to Surabaya, a beautiful city packed with malls and markets, and home to the century-old Surabaya Zoo, which was the first in the world to successfully breed orangutans in captivity.
Then, it’s on to Komodo Island. Enjoy a guided tour of Komodo National Park, get a glimpse of the planet’s largest living lizard, the Komodo dragon, and walk along a pink-sand beach. The following day, the cruise takes you to Lembar in Lombok. This is where you will find Mount Rinjani, Indonesia’s second highest volcano, beautiful beaches and enchanting waterfalls.
Next stop: Denpasar in Bali. You have a whole day to sightsee, shop for batik and teakwood crafts, and sample delicious Balinese cuisine. The last port of call before the two-day trip back to Singapore is Probolinggo in Java, famed for the Madakaripura Waterfall, Gili Ketapang Island, Bentar Beach, Jabung Temple and Rengganis Peak.
What’s on board? The MS Volendam is a spacious, mid-sized ship with a garden theme. The public spaces feature touches of luxury – Italian sculptures and artwork, Renaissanceera fountains, and fresh flower displays. The facilities are stylish: The Explorer’s Lounge is a great spot to relax and take in the ocean view; or, if you feel like indulging yourself, head to the spa-inspired Thermal Suite for a leisurely soak in the jacuzzi.
The rooms and suites are beautifully appointed, offering Sealy Premium Euro-top mattresses, 100 per cent Egyptian cotton towels, premium massage showerheads and premium bath amenities. Cost: From $2,400 a person, sails on Nov 10, 2016. For more information, go to www.hollandamerica.com.