Windstar Cruises’ second season for the 212-passenger Star Legend in Asia kicks off in the fall of 2018 after her inaugural Alaska season this summer. The return to Asia for Windstar in 2018/19 will bring four new cruises, as well as the recurrence of four of the company’s most popular cruises from its 2017/18 season sailing in the region for a total of 27 sailings for travelers to choose from. Windstar has increased departures for popular Japan cruises timed with its famous cherry blossom season and spectacular fall foliage. New Asia itineraries include a comprehensive exploration of greater China; an Asian “pop culture” journey from Tokyo to South Korea and Beijing; a Thailand and Malaysia cruise big on beaches and big cities; and a new itinerary discovering Indonesia, including magical Bali.
“Windstar is able to do so many things in Asia that only small ships can do,” says Windstar President John Delaney. “We can sail up rivers and dock in the central areas of Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City, and Bangkok. We can anchor off Patong Bay in Phuket, Thailand and small islands in Indonesia like Pulau Bawean on the Java Sea. We visit small ports in the Philippines giving our guests access to places found at the top of Condé Nast Traveler’s Best Islands and Best Beaches lists. Places like Palawan, home to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, one of the new seven natural world wonders, and beautiful Boracay with white sand beaches perfect for snorkeling. All of our itineraries are carefully crafted by knowledgeable experts with scenic cruising and active exploration in mind. Our new Star Collector sailings have been extremely popular, they combine in-depth itineraries into longer back-to-back sailings, meaning real time for travelers to discover ancient traditions and contemporary cultures.”
Windstar also offers a variety of pre- and post-cruise packages in Asia, including a foray to Angkor Wat from Bangkok and a visit to Beijing’s Great Wall. In addition, Windstar offers more than 200 shore excursions in Asia in 2018/19, including experiences like visiting a traditional Malay home, exploring Komodo National Park on foot, and participating in a night tour of Shanghai with dinner on The Bund (Asia’s most famous street).
The following new 2018-19 Asia cruises are now open for booking:
Comprehensive Indonesia Exploration
The 11-day Singapore to Bali (Benoa) (or reverse) cruise includes notable stops in Jakarta and Semarang in Indonesia, where guests can explore Dutch trading buildings in the Old Quarter or a day trip to Borobudur, the Buddhist temple and UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to the 8th century. Guests can take a stroll along alabaster-sand beaches on Bali or check out the steaming vents on restless Mount Bromo, one of Indonesia’s most spectacular volcanoes. This cruise is the best way to dive in-depth to the culture, breathtaking landscapes, and Komodo dragons of Indonesia. And for relaxing, Windstar offers two “beach days” on two small islands – Pulau Bawean and Pulau Menyawakan, remote locations where only small ships and ferries go unless you charter a flight. The cruise occurs over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, with Christmas Day in Jakarta and New Year’s Eve in Komodo National Park.
Thai Temples, Malaysian Monarchs
The 11-day Bangkok to Singapore cruise sails along the coasts of Thailand, Malaysia, and China and is perfect for those big on beaches and natural beauty as well as contemporary urban wonders. Ports alternate between relaxing and exploring in off the beaten path beaches and buzzing metropolises, and an overnight in Phuket means time for dining, dancing, or watching nightlife beneath the neon glow of a thriving waterfront along Patong Bay. Guests can dine on pungent durian or warm naan bread paired with spicy tandoori chicken among the varied and distinct aromas of the Jonkers Walk street food and restaurant fare in Malacca. Vault skyward in a double-decker elevator to the breathtaking observation deck on the 86th floor of Petronas Towers high above Kuala Lumpur. Snorkel or swim off the quiet shores of an isolated beach near Langkawi. This cruise concludes among the buzzing scooters and towering skyscrapers in thriving Singapore.
Comprehensive China Exploration
The 11-day cruise from Hong Kong to Beijing (or reverse) visits the four major cities in greater China, including Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, and Taipei, with overnights in both Shanghai and Hong Kong for extra exploration. The cruise also stops at Ishigaki Island, Japan, known for clear waters and coral reefs and Qingdao, China – the home of Tsingtao Beer and a former German outpost/colony. Soak in powder blue hot springs and taste the umami of oyster pancakes and stinky tofu offered by Taiwanese street vendors. Climb the Great Wall for an unparalleled view of China’s past and to the Star Bar for an unparalleled view of your yacht in the present.
Pop Culture Kings of Asia
The 11-day cruise from Tokyo to Beijing (or reverse) is a balance of big, modern cities like Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul (via Busan), and Beijing in addition to smaller and more off-the-beaten path places like Karatsu, Japan and Tamano/Uno port in the Inland Sea of Japan. J-pop, Harajuku culture, and Korean dramas are born from the center of Asian pop culture – Japan and South Korea, and on this sailing, Windstar guests can shop up a storm in the largest underground mall in Seoul and admire the lasting grace of geishas with overnights in Busan and Osaka. But perhaps the most stunning experience is taking in the view cruising the Inland Sea and mixing equal parts pop culture and cultural heritage throughout the journey.
Longer sailings such as the returning Star Collector: The Grandeur of Southeast Asia, a 26-day cruise from Singapore to Bangkok (or reverse) combine Windstar’s most popular itineraries for an even more in-depth exploration of each region and multiple country visits. Star Collector Voyages in Asia range from 14- to 47-days, feature few repeat ports to hidden harbors and classic cities, guest speakers, free daily laundry and unpacking once, the ultimate in convenience allowing more time to get closer to the diverse places the ship will visit.
New for 2018/19 in Asia for Windstar are Star Collector: Shrines and Cities of Asia, a 22-day cruise from Tokyo to Hong Kong; and Star Collector: Epic East Asia, a 47-day cruise from Bangkok to Tokyo departing Feb. 8, 2019.
Four itineraries in Asia that Windstar is offering again include Grand Japan, a 10-day voyage perfectly timed for fall colors and cherry blossom seasons – arguably the two best times to be in Japan; Icons of Southeast Asia, a slightly shortened 12-day cruise from Hong Kong to Bangkok (and reverse); The Best of the Philippines & Borneo, a 14-day cruise from Singapore to Hong Kong; and Malay & Singapore Sojourn, a seven-day Singapore round-trip cruise that now features an overnight in Phuket (new for 2018).
To learn more about authentic small ship cruising with Windstar, contact a travel professional or Windstar Cruises by phone at 877-958-7718, or visit www.windstarcruises.com