FunchalPopular Classic International Cruises (CIC) liner, Funchal, will operate a series of Far East cruises for Australians from Singapore and Hong Kong in early 2012, the cruise line has announced with the release of a brochure for the program.

Nine Far East cruises from nine to 33 nights aboard the 465-passenger Funchal from January to April, 2012, will maintain Classic International Cruises’ two-ship presence in the region, with the line’s flagship, Athena, returning again to Australia next summer, based in Perth and Adelaide.

The 9,500-ton, classic-styled Funchal proved popular with Australians when she was based each summer in Perth from 2004 to 2007 before the larger 600-passenger Athena succeeded her here.

A feature of Classic International Cruises’ new 2012 Far East brochure for Australia are several cruises offering extended three-day stays in ports such as Ho Chi Minh City and Phuket as well as other itineraries offering overnight stays in destinations such as Manila, Ha Long Bay, Da Nang, Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong, allowing passengers to explore ports in-depth.

The program includes two nine-night, round-trip cruises aboard Funchal from Singapore, four 10-11-night, one-way voyages between Singapore and Hong Kong, two 14-15-night round-trip cruises from Hong Kong and a 33-night itinerary from Singapore to the UK.

 Each of the nine cruises aboard Funchal is different and can be sailed back-to-back to create longer voyages. Up to a quarter of CIC passengers have previously combined cruises in Asia.

Registered in Portugal and currently undergoing a €5 million refurbishment, Funchal offers four elegant bars and lounges, pool, library, one-sitting dining in two restaurants, casino, gym and sauna. The ‘bible’ of cruising, the Berlitz Guide to Cruise Ships, praises Funchal’s “delightful character and charm” as well as the “feeling of camaraderie and friendliness from the loyal crew” and her “classy” piano bar.  “A highly polished wooden spiral stairway is a beautiful, classic piece of decoration not found in today’s ships,” the Berlitz guide adds.

“The atmosphere aboard Funchal all our stylish, traditional liners deliberately captures the classic shipboard life of a bygone era,” Classic International Cruises Managing Director, Grant Hunter, said. “It’s cruising as it was meant to be – relaxing and friendly with a sense of the ocean and all its adventure and nautical traditions.”