Crystal Cruises has tapped award-winning international authors on Asian culture and a chef with global passions to join guests and add their regional insights to several compelling tours in Vietnam, India and Thailand.
On select April cruises, Crystal guests have the unusual opportunity to explore Vietnam's mysterious Cu Chi Tunnels and the imperial city of Hue with filmmaker/professor/author Dr. Jean Pierre-Isbouts, share the Taj Mahal with author/historian Diana Preston who wrote a book about the treasure of India, or visit a local Thai market with guest chef, Azmin Ghaherman.
"Our guests seek distinctive experiences, wherever in the world they travel," says John Stoll, Crystal Cruises' director of land programs. "The expertise of Dr. Pierre-Isbouts, Chef Ghalerman and Ms. Preston add depth, personalization and exclusivity to the Crystal Adventure excursions."
"Mysteries of the Far East" cruise - Hong Kong to Singapore - Apr 14-25, 2008
* Features a call in Chan May, Vietnam; an overnight call in Ho Chi Minh City; an overnight call in Bangkok's port of Laem Chabang; and overnight stay in Singapore.
* A recognized authority on Southeast Asia, Dr. Isbouts will offer insights and commentary on the intricate Chu Chi tunnel networks once used by the Vietcong, and a more personalized look into the history, culture and architecture of Hue, from its Imperial Palace to the Heavenly Lady Pagoda - one of the holiest pagodas in all Vietnam.
* Fares for the 11-day cruise start at $4,495. The Cu Chi tunnel and Hue tours are $73 and $110, respectively.
"Silk and Spices" voyage - Singapore to Dubai - Apr 25-May 11, 2008
* Features calls in Phuket, Thailand; Cochin, Marmagoa, and Mumbai, India; Muscat, Oman; Doha, Quatar (a maiden call); and an overnight call in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
* Diana Preston, author of Taj Mahal: A Love Affair at the Heart of the Moghul Empire, will escort the full-day tour to discuss the treasure's creation, its cultural and architectural heritage, and daily life within the imperial palace. The excursion includes chartered roundtrip air from Mumbai to Agra, an exploration of the palace apartments, grand mosques and marble pavilions of Agra Fort, lunch and hospitality room accommodations, and an exclusive tour of the Taj Mahal.
* Guest chef Azmin Ghaherman will supplement his onboard Wine & Food Festival demos and dinner with a shore-side excursion to a local market in Phuket. The owner of Sapphire Laguna restaurant in Laguna Beach, Ghaherman was born in Iran, educated in Switzerland, and has held executive chef positions from Australia to Malaysia, honing his global oriented approach to fine cuisine.
* Fares for 16-day cruise fares start at $5,335. The full-day tour accompanied by Preston begins at $2,350 per person. Fares and reservations for the marketplace tour will be available on board.