From ancient temples and villages untouched by time to tours of verdant spice plantations and the life along the Mekong Delta, luxury travel specialist Crystal Cruises is offering guests more of Asia than ever before with 120 unique shoreside adventures exploring the region's famed wonders and hidden treasures off the beaten path. Culinary enthusiasts can savor a spice plantation in India, while adventure seekers can opt for a three-night overland adventure into Laos.
In 2008, Crystal is increasing its presence in Asia with two ships sailing the region. The award-winning Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony will sail Asia from March through May 2008 aboard six destination-rich itineraries, all of which feature noted UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Among the extensive Crystal Adventures during the cruise are 12 new programs and nine different overnight tours offering in-depth travels in Vietnam, Thailand, China, Laos, Cambodia and India, and all are available online at crystalcruises.com for review and pre-booking.
Crystal's Asia Adventures include:
* Himeji Castle & Mount Shosha-zan (Kobe, Japan) - Explore Himeji
Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Japan's most beautiful surviving medieval castle, and the magnificent Engyoji Temple perched atop Mount Shosha-zan.
* *NEW* Shanghai's Jewish Heritage (Shanghai, China) - Discover the rich history of Shanghai's Jewish community exploring impressive synagogues and walking the Jewish ghetto where streets look more European than Chinese.
* Train to Wuxi (Shanghai, China) - Journey to the ancient garden city of Wuxi and visit a Chinese silk-reeling factory to witness the entire process from the silkworms to the deft workers as they wind the cocoons into spools.
* Da Nang & Hoi An (Da Nang, Vietnam) - Walk a living UNESCO World Heritage Site in the scenic river town of Hoi An where the colorful streets, temples and waterside markets remain largely untouched by time.
* Laos Overland Adventure (Bangkok, Thailand) - Embark upon a three-night overland adventure into Laos and explore caves lit with candles and filled with hundreds of Buddhas. Admire magnificent temples, view spectacular waterfalls, and wake at dawn to participate in a traditional Buddhist alms-giving ceremony.
* Cuisine of Kerala (Cochin, India) - Savor the cuisine of Southern India with lunch and a cooking demonstration as top chefs prepare a special meal infused with regional flavors and local spices.
* Wine & Food Festival voyage
* *NEW* The Temples & Spices of Goa (Marmagao, India) - Admire the beautiful Hindu architecture of the impressive Shri Mahalasa temple and learn about the flavors of India during lunch at a spice plantation.
*Wine & Food Festival Voyage
* Mystical Muscat (Muscat, Oman) - Explore the former residence of one of Oman's wealthiest and most well known families and view private collections of Omani weaponry, jewelry, clothing, photographs, books, paintings and maps.
Other highlights of Crystal's Asia cruises:
* An unprecedented number of in-port overnights, 17 in all, allow guests extended time to experience Hong Kong, Shanghai, Osaka, Kobe, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, and Bangkok with two- and three-day calls.
* Two Crystal Symphony itineraries also include a complimentary three-night overland adventure in Beijing with tours of the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Great Wall of China.
"With nearly every Asia itinerary featuring in-port overnights in two or three cities throughout the voyage, we have arranged more than 120 unique adventures, including many new offerings to lesser known, yet magnificent sites,'' says John Stoll, Crystal's director of land programs. "Whether this is a traveler's first trip to Asia or their second or more, we can assure something new and exciting for every interest."
From March through May 2008 Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony will embark upon six destination-rich voyages to Asia ranging from 11 to 17 days and featuring calls in the exotic port cities of Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, and Dalian, China; Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Bangkok, Ko Samui and Phuket, Thailand; Singapore; Kobe, Hiroshima, and Osaka, Japan; Kuala Lampur/Port Kelang, Malaysia; Mumbai, Cochin, and Marmagao, India; Muscat, Oman; Doha, Qatar; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Fares start at just $4,495 per person double, occupancy depending upon itinerary and suite selected.