Travelers on a “quest” to spend time exploring Asia’s unique, enchanting culture in relaxed, luxurious style and convenience need look no further than Azamara Cruises’ 2010-11 offerings in the region. Beginning in late November of 2010 and continuing through April of 2011, the 694-guest Azamara Quest, which features Azamara butler service in every stateroom, complimentary specialty dining and a laid-back, no-formal-nights elegance, will present her third consecutive Asia season. Rounding out Azamara Quest’s shipboard offerings are a variety of available in-port shore excursions and an in-depth, fully escorted land tour program that can be combined with a cruise to create a cruisetour vacation for even richer exploration of this region. Azamara’s 2010-11 Asia sailings opened for sale today.
Known for visiting off-the-beaten-path destinations, Azamara will visit 21 ports in 10 different countries during its 2010-11 Asia sailing. These countries are Egypt, United Arab Emirates, India, Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Japan, and South Korea. Fully escorted pre- and post-cruise land-based tours that can extend a cruise into a “cruisetour” are offered from Beijing and Hong Kong, China.
Azamara Quest’s first Asia offering in the winter of 2010-11 is a 24-night repositioning cruise from Athens to Singapore, departing on November 27. Featuring visits to Alexandria, Egypt; Cochin, India; and Phuket, Thailand; the sailing also features in-port overnight stays in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Bombay (Mumbai), India, as well as passage through the Suez Canal.
Just before the Christmas holiday, Azamara Quest will set sail on the first of the season’s six Southeast Asia voyages between Singapore and Hong Kong, beginning with an 18-night Southeast Asia cruise from Singapore on December 21, 2010, followed by four consecutive 14-night voyages between the two cities. Azamara Quest will sail her last Southeast Asia voyage of the 2010-11 winter season with a 14-night offering from Hong Kong to Singapore on March 29, 2011, before embarking on a 24-night repositioning cruise from Singapore back to Athens on April 12.
The Southeast Asia voyages each include at least four in-port overnight stays, allowing guests the opportunity to further explore the region’s culture and history. Overnights are offered in Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Hanoi (Halong Bay) and Ho Chi Minh City. A voyage taking place during Chinese New Year, departing Singapore for Hong Kong on January 22, 2011, offers overnights in all but one of the ports it visits during the cruise.
Available shore excursions expand the in-port experience. Azamara offers a variety of excursions of different lengths and activity levels. Examples include the two-day, one-night “Essence of Cambodia Overland” excursion out of Bangkok. The highlight of this excursion is a visit to Angkor Wat, the largest temple in the world with a volume of stone equaling that of the Cheops pyramid in Egypt. In Ho Chi Minh City, the “Cu Chi Tunnels” excursion takes guests into the tunnels where Vietnamese fighters lived and fought from. Only a few feet wide and five feet high but capable of withstanding the weight of tanks and bombs, the tunnel complex includes underground meeting rooms, kitchens, hospital and sleeping areas.
Two 12-night Northeast Asia cruises, sailing from Hong Kong to Shanghai on March 5, 2011 and from Shanghai to Hong Kong on March 17, will offer completely different itineraries from one another, creating a 24-night back-to-back sailing option for guests who wish to experience mainland China, Japan and South Korea in one trip. The northbound itinerary on March 5 visits Kagoshima, Nagasaki and the stunningly romantic city of Kyoto (Osaka), Japan, as well as Xiamen, China, and Busan, South Korea. Available shore excursions include “Best of Shanghai,” which takes guests into China’s most cosmopolitan city, also known as “Paris of the East.” The excursion includes visits to Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai Museum and the Jade Buddha Temple, with a stop at a silk factory, where guests learn how silk is collected and woven into a carpet.
The southbound itinerary on March 17 features an overnight call in Beijing (Tianjin) as well as calls to Seoul (Incheon), South Korea, and two ports new to Azamara: Qingdao, China and Jeju Island, South Korea. Qingdao is located in eastern Shandong province on the Yellow Sea. Host to the sailing regatta during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Qingdao is most famous internationally for its Tsingdao Brewery and its mix of German and Chinese architecture. Jeju Island is a volcanic island to the south of the Korean Peninsula. A popular vacation spot for Korean and Japanese travelers, the island offers a variety of outdoor activities set against a beautiful natural landscape and must-see attractions such as Mt. Hallasan and the Cheonjeyeon and Cheonjiyeon waterfalls.
Azamara’s cruisetours, a combination of a cruise and a fully escorted land-based tour, offer guests the opportunity to deepen their Asia experience. Six different eight-day, seven-night land-based tour packages are available. The pre-cruise package begins in Beijing and ends in Hong Kong; guests board Azamara Quest on the last day of the land package. The post-cruise package begins in Hong Kong and ends in Beijing; after disembarking the ship, guests will be met by their tour director at the pier. Both packages feature multiple opportunities for travelers to engage firsthand with some of China’s most breathtaking sights, scenes and tastes. Some of the most widely known spots that guests on Azamara Cruises’ pre- and post-cruise tours will visit include the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall at Mutianyue, and Victoria Peak. All of these visits – as well as all planned activities in the tours – are fully escorted and guided by knowledgeable escorts who will share a great deal of information about each place. Throughout the eight-day tours, guests will overnight in multiple cities, including Beijing, Xian, Guilin and Hong Kong. Some meals are included, most notably a traditional Peking duck dinner in Beijing, a Chinese dumpling dinner followed by dumpling-making and noodle-throwing demonstrations in Xian, and lunch during a scenic cruise along the River Li in Guilin.
The tours also include visits to museums such as the famed Terracotta Warriors Museum, the Bronze Chariots Museum, Yangling Museum, and Shaanxi Provincial Museum. There, guests will have the opportunity to learn about important historical and cultural milestones in China, while browsing unforgettable collections of artifacts. Guests will also experience several temples, including the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, the Great Mosque of Xian, and Hong Kong’s Man Mo Temple.
Each package includes ground transportation, deluxe hotel accommodations, some meals, and ample time for independent dining, shopping and sightseeing.