A Royal Caribbean ship calls in SingaporeFor many Americans the prosperity of China may seem threatening, but for travelers and for the cruise industry it has opened doors. In 2014 the cruise lines are going to be deploying multiple ships to Asia and offering cruisers from the West a greater insight into the cities and towns of China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam and even Myanmar.

Statistically the interest in Asia has been growing for years. According to the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, between 1994 and 2006 the number of U.S. citizens visiting Japan increased by 76 percent and those visiting China’s mainland increased by 232 percent. But it’s not just Americans who are traveling, in June, Adam Goldstein, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean compared the cruise market in Asia to that of America 30 years ago. In 1980 roughly 1.4 million Americans cruised, now that number is closer to 12 million.

Just as Goldstein is looking toward Asia for Royal Caribbean’s customers, many other cruise lines are taking note. Here is an overview of some of the more prominent new Asia cruise itineraries.

  • Princess Cruises – Running from April through October of 2014, Princess Cruises will have 42 sailings, on two ships leaving from three homeports in Japan. The ships sailing in Japan will be the Sun Princess and Diamond Princess, which interestingly was also built in Japan. The Diamond Princess will homeport in Tokyo and mainly sail 9-day itineraries that visit South Korea, Taiwan and Russia. The Sun Princess will sail 7-day itineraries from Otaru, which is near Sapporo. The Sun Princess will also have two 8-day sailings that leave from Kobe. These sailings will offer special onboard amenities and programs to accommodate Japanese passengers including a sake menu and a traditional kagamiwari ceremony.
  • Viking Cruises – The popular river cruise line will host 22 16-day itineraries that take passengers on the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar. The itinerary called The Road to Mandalay is groundbreaking as the U.S. and other countries have eased restrictions on traveling to this nation and Myanmar’s recent political shifts have made the country open up more and invite tourists. Because the land was isolated for so long, it holds many unseen wonders for travelers including more than 2,000 temples and shrines that stand along a 26-mile stretch of land in Bagan.
  • Holland America Line – For 2014 Holland America increased its offerings in Asia and added two brand new itineraries, Indonesian Discovery and Asian Adventure. The Indonesian Discovery sails for 14-days and visits several stops throughout Indonesia including Bali, Komodo Island and Jakarta. The Asian Adventure is another 14-day itinerary, this specific itinerary has just one sailing and visits Malaysia, Thailand, India and one-stop in Myanmar. There will also be two sailings of an itinerary focused on China and Japan.

Do you think the Asian cruise market will expand and eventually grow to the size of the U.S. Market? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Erica Kritt works at The Cruise Web. The Cruise Web is a travel agency that specializes in cruising. The expert cruise consultants focus on providing travelers with the best value for their time and money in finding and booking a cruise vacation! Visit The Cruise Web for the best cruise deals to Asia.