Category: Itinerary Spotlight

NCL Japan Cruises

Cruising to Japan: 11 Incredible Ports to Explore

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 731 0

When you journey to Japan you will experience a land of culture, history and sites beyond your imagination. To ensure you see all you are meant to, read on to discover 11 incredible ports to explore when you sail Japan with Norwegian Cruise Lines

If you’re looking through Norwegian’s Asia cruises, you’ll find no shortage of beautiful and exotic ports, many of which are in Japan. In fact, you can even book a cruise that primarily explores some of Japan’s most iconic destinations. One option is a 13-day cruise from Yokohama. If you’re planning a cruise to Japan, here’s a look at 11 incredible ports in Japan you can’t miss.

1. Shimizu (Mount Fuji)
Shimizu is a popular port because it’s the gateway to Mount Fuji (pictured above), but it’s also one of Japan’s most beautiful ports. Here, you can visit Japan’s first sushi museum, check out the archeological site of Toro that dates back to 200 BC, or wander through a 650-year-old black pine forest. If you’re interested in regional specialties, you’ll find traditional wooden handicrafts, fabrics, and local eats like a sweet jellied confection known as yokan.

2. Kobe
Kobe, Japan, is famous for its iconic beef, but it’s also the gateway to the popular city of Osaka. Here you can visit Ikuta Shrine, one of Japan’s oldest shrines, and spend the rest of the day eating and drinking your way through one of Japan’s most beloved food destinations. Enjoy an endless amount of street foods, and don’t miss Kobe’s Nada District, which is the top sake-producing region in the county.

3. Kanazawa
Travelers who want to learn more about Japan’s Edo period, which lasted from 1603 to 1886, should book a cruise that stops in Kanazawa. This is the second-largest city to survive World War II intact. You can explore the old castle town, the Nagamachi samurai district, and teahouses in the geisha district. You’ll find no shortage of temples and museums, plus a historic market that dates back to 1721.

4. Sapporo
Sapporo is one of Japan’s youngest cities and was the host city for the 1972 Winter Olympics. World class skiing and the annual ice festival are two reasons people flock to Sapporo, especially in the winter months. From Sapporo, you can also visit other iconic destinations, such as Hokkaido, or mineral-rich hot springs like Noboribetsu.

5. Beppu
Beppu is famous for its countless hot springs. The most famous of these is Jigoku, or Hell Circuit, but you won’t be taking a dip here, as it’s only for admiring. Depending on the time of year you visit, you may be able to view thousands of cherry blossoms in the spring or the stunning leaves of autumn. For local food specialties, don’t miss stopping by the historic Tomonaga Panya. This bakery dates back to 1916, and its signature specialty is the wanchan (doggie) bun.

6. Sasebo
Sasebo was once an old fishing village, but it transitioned into a large naval port in the 19th century. Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the wide range of outdoor activities here. Visit the zoological and tropical botanical gardens with over 1,200 plant species and 80 animal species. Love Dutch tulips? Huis Ten Bosch is a recreation of a 17th-century Dutch village, complete with its own tulip fields. For traditional Japanese fare, explore the Yorozu-cho District where you can find a fun market with fresh seafood, produce, and plenty of handmade pottery and clothing.

7. Hakodate
The best views in Hakodate are seen from atop Hakodate Mountain. You can take a scenic ride up the gondola to the observation deck and marvel at the views below. Don’t miss interesting Hakodate attractions like Fort Goryokaku, built in the shape of a star, or the Hakodate market. Be sure to eat local specialties like kaisen-don, a seafood rice bowl.

8. Sakaiminato
The western part of Japan is seafood heaven, and Sakaiminato is the main fishing port for this part of the country. If you’ve eaten succulent snow crab in Japan, it comes from the Sakai Port. Beautiful sculptures from local artist Shigeru Mizuki line Kitaro Road, and the city is famed for its “Yokai” bronze sculptures of Japanese folklore spirit monsters.

9. Kochi
Kochi is another fun Japanese port, especially if you want to experience a Japanese beach. Katsurahama Beach is beautiful and is home to the Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial that honors the famous Japanese peace negotiator. Settlement in this area started in 1601, and you can visit the area surrounding the historic Kochi Castle. Don’t miss trying Katsuo no tataki, which is a type of tuna tataki.

10. Miyako-Jima
Okinawa is renowned for its natural beauty, and Miyako-Jima is a beautiful port in the Okinawa Prefecture. Visitors are blown away by the turquoise water and world-class snorkeling. After you’ve worked up an appetite in the water, be sure to try Okinawa soba, a local specialty.

11. Hiroshima
Hiroshima is an emotional port for many travelers. It’s a historically rich region, but also a solemn reminder of World War II. Visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum, where you’ll find numerous monuments to honor those who perished during the war. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy a myriad of outdoor activities like hiking and biking. Hiroshima is renowned for its local cuisine, including okonomiyaki, a crepe-like dish that some people refer to as Japanese pizza. It has vegetables, cabbage, and usually seafood. If you like oysters, don’t miss trying grilled oysters in Hiroshima either.

If your budget and vacation time allows, consider an East Asia cruise that primarily explores some of these ports in Japan. Many itineraries start or end in Tokyo, so you can add extra days to explore one of the world’s most dynamic cities on your own.

 

 

 

 

Original Blog Post can be found here

Photography Ideas While Travelling in Alaska

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 655 0

Did you know Alaska means “great land” in Aleut? If you travel to Alaska, you’ll quickly see why. Alaska is one of the most spectacular places in the world to photograph wildlife and breathtaking scenery. In Alaska, you’ll find 17 of the highest mountain peaks in the country, more than 3 million lakes, an estimated 100,000 glaciers and more than 70 volcanoes. It’s no wonder Alaska is a photographer’s dream come true.

You may be wondering where to start, since there is so much beauty to behold in the Last Frontier. We’ll inspire your photography journey, and show you some of the most jaw-dropping locations to take photos in Alaska.

Most Beautiful Places in Alaska to Take Photos
Alaska may be best known for Denali National Park, but the entire state is full of photogenic jewels. Consider the following locations for your photography excursions. By the end of this post, you might agree — photography in Alaska should be on everyone’s bucket list.

1. Kodiak
Kodiak is a city on Kodiak Island —Alaska’s largest island. It’s one of the top fishing destinations in the country, where you might catch halibut, cod, trout and salmon. It’s also home to Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, where you’ll find enchanting fjords, impressive mountains, alpine lakes and peaceful meadows.

Wildlife photography is a top activity for refuge visitors. Birdwatching photographers have a chance to capture the beauty of over 200 species of birds. In the winter, they’ll find sea ducks and other migratory birds, and in the summer they may see puffins from the North Pacific.

Many people travel to Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge to view Kodiak bears, as 3,000 bears call the refuge home. Frazer Lake, which is at the southern portion of the refuge, is a popular spot for bear viewing. The best time to look for bears is at dawn or dusk. You have a greater chance of seeing bears at salmon streams from July to September. The refuge staff recommends taking a guided tour to view and photograph bears. With a guided tour, you can make the most of your experience and ensure your safety.

There are tons of other photography opportunities in Kodiak. For example, you could take a boat tour of nearby islands and snap photos of sea otters, sea lions, puffins or maybe even whales. Or, you could stay in Kodiak and capture images of St. Paul Harbor and the colorful fishing boats set against a backdrop of mountain greenery.

 

2. Seward
Seward is a port city located south of Anchorage, surrounded by the majesty of the snow-capped peaks and Kenai Fjords National Park. Seward is one of the state’s oldest and most picturesque communities.

To start your photography expedition, you might take a picture of the Seward Boat Harbor at the northern tip of Resurrection Bay and capture the essence of Seward. You could also go on a boat tour of Resurrection Bay, camera in hand, and explore hidden coves or photograph sea otters, harbor seals and eagles. Head down to Lowell Point for calming pictures of deep blue water and misty mountains.

You could easily capture hundreds of photos without ever leaving the bay area. However, photographers do not want to miss the chance to explore Kenai Fjords National Park— a top destination for visitors who wish to surround themselves with glacial beauty. You’ll find almost 40 glaciers drifting from the Harding Icefield and an abundance of wildlife in the park’s lush forests and crystal waters.

You might get to photograph sea otters, sea lions, moose, mountain goats, gray wolves, bears and a variety of birds. You might also see orcas and humpback whales. Imagine snapping a shot of a whale rocketing from the water, or capturing the striking contrast of a red kayak in front of a glacier.

Most of the park is only accessible by water, but a boat tour offers incredible opportunities to photograph breathtaking scenery and wildlife. If you’re a photographer visiting Seward, Kenai Fjords National Park is a must-see.

 

3. Metlakatla
Metlakatla, located on Annette Islands Indian Reservation, is the only American Indian Reserve in Alaska. It’s also the only settlement of the Tsimshian people in the country. The community has an active economy due to its natural resources and the ability to harvest halibut, cod, clams and salmon. Metlakatla features lush forests and salmon-rich streams. Visitors usually travel to Metlakatla by boat or seaplane.

For traveling photographers who want to capture Alaska’s cultural diversity and history, Metlakatla is the place to go. Plan to take pictures of skillfully crafted totems, traditional dance, a longhouse painted with a Tsimshian design or the tranquil harbor. You might also take photos of the island from atop Yellow Hill, which stands 540 feet above the community and offers a panoramic view.

 

4. Wrangell
Are you looking to photograph a colorful array of totems and Native American art? Or would you rather snap pictures of Alaskan wildlife? You can choose both if you head to Wrangell.

Wrangell is one of the oldest towns in Alaska and surrounded by natural beauty. You’ll find over a dozen totems scattered through the town. Make sure to take your camera to Chief Shakes Longhouse, located on an island in the middle of the harbor, to take close-ups of totems and tribal designs. You can easily reach Chief Shakes Longhouse by walking over the pedestrian bridge. Keep on the lookout for bald eagles too while you explore the island.

While in Wrangell, you might also visit Petroglyph Beach State Historic Park to photograph primitive rock carvings. If you want to take a short trip south of Wrangell, you can visit the Anan Bear and Wildlife Observatory to watch eagles, harbor seals and bears feast on salmon. However, you don’t have to leave Wrangell to view wildlife. You only need to look to the trees to catch a shot of an eagle or to the shoreline for herons. Everywhere you turn, you can find something picture-perfect.

 

5. Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm
Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm are long, narrow fjords located about 45 miles south of Juneau. From aboard a boat, photographers can capture some of the most unforgettable scenery in Alaska. Imagine plunging waterfalls crashing down cliffs into turquoise water, or brilliant blue ice formations dotting the water like gems. You’ll also have the chance to see eagles, seals, bears and whales if you go in the summer.

You might take your camera with you as you stand within a half mile of South Sawyer Glacier if conditions are right. This glacier, at the head of Tracy Arm, extends deep underwater, producing a vibrant blue hue. If you’re lucky, you might also find mountain goats at the base.

For dramatic glacial scenery that will take your breath away, make sure to explore Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm. When you look at your gorgeous photos post-trip, you’ll be so glad you did.

 

6. Inian Islands
Inian Islands is a unique and pristine designated wilderness area located between Chichagof Island and Glacier Bay National Park. The area is only accessible by floatplane or boat. There are no established trails on the islands, but visitors still have plenty of ways to explore. If you tour Inian Islands by boat, you’ll get to treat your eyes, and your camera, to the unspoiled beauty of dense temperate rainforests, rocky shorelines and shimmering icy water. You’ll mostly want to focus on the water, so you don’t miss the chance to capture photos of humpbacks, orcas, sea lions and otters.

 

7. Icy Strait Point
Icy Strait Point is a tourist destination privately owned and operated by Huna Totem Corporation. It’s on Chichagof Island outside of Hoonah — Alaska’s largest Tlingit village. Lush rainforest and clear, blue waters surround Icy Strait Point. Here, you can choose from over 20 tours, check out a restored Alaskan salmon cannery, walk nature trails or set up your gear on the shore and wait to capture shots of whales or eagles soaring overhead.

One of the benefits of visiting Icy Strait Point, besides its stunning beauty, is the chance to search for wildlife with the help of a tour guide. For example, you might head with a guide to see brown bears at the Spasski River Valley, which is known for a high brown bear density. While on a tour, a guide can show you the best spots for taking wildlife photos. You’ll also get to learn about the animals and enhance your overall experience. You’ll enjoy the meaning of your photographs with greater depth if you learn the story and history behind them.

 

8. Juneau
Juneau is Alaska’s capital city. Downtown Juneau sits at the bottom of Mount Juneau on the Gastineau Channel. Tongass National Forest surrounds the city — the largest national forest and home to the highest density of black bears in the world. An estimated 32,247 people call Juneau home.

Juneau in itself is a photogenic location. While in the city, watch the sky, and you might catch a bald eagle or great blue heron flying overhead. You may also find whales swimming past you as you walk through town, or seals peeking at you from the channel. Search the steep sides of Mount Juneau, and you might catch a black bear or mountain goat feasting on vegetation.

To get closer to the abundance of wildlife in Juneau, you can ride the Mount Roberts Tramway almost 2,000 feet above downtown and explore subalpine trails. In the summer, you’ll find marmots and grouse. You might also see bears, deer, porcupines and other mammals along the trails.

Finally, you won’t want to miss Mendenhall Glacier while you’re visiting Juneau. Here, you can view the 13-mile-long glacier, which ends at Mendenhall Lake, from the historic visitor center. You can also walk along the lake for spectacular views of icebergs or to photograph Nugget Falls cascading down the mountain. You might also snap shots of moss-covered trees or wildlife while exploring the area. To get there, you can take a bus or taxi from downtown.

 

9. Misty Fjords
Located a short trip east of Ketchikan, Misty Fjords National Monument is a designated wilderness area and part of the Tongass National Forest. Thousands of years ago, ice covered the area, carving deep fjords with cliffs reaching thousands of feet into the sky. You can travel by boat on the Behm Canal to enter the heart of the fjords and take jaw-dropping photos. It’s possible you’ll see whales, porpoises, mountain goats and bears along the way. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to photograph plunging waterfalls, abundant wildlife, dramatic cliffs, dense green forest and pure, astonishing beauty.

 

10. Ketchikan
Situated near the entrance of the Inside Passage, Ketchikan is a city that offers charming scenery, surrounded by wildlife-rich waters and forest. Besides being in the Tongass National Forest, Ketchikan is also home to a vibrant arts scene. In other words, there is a ton of potential to photograph something incredible anywhere you turn in Ketchikan.

For example, did you know Ketchikan has the largest collection of totem poles in the world? Some of them are also among the oldest. You can get shots of totems scattered around town or at one of their totem parks. If you want to immerse yourself in nature while visiting Ketchikan, consider taking a trip just outside town to the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary to possibly get photos of eagles or black bears. At the sanctuary, you can also stop at a historic sawmill or stroll through the totem park.

Alaska scenery is hard to believe unless you’ve been there. Words can’t describe the majesty of steep rocky cliffs jutting out from deep blue-green water, or the sight of massive ice formations carved by time and nature. If you explore Alaska, you will never forget the scenery. Taking pictures is one way to remind yourself of your journey, but the beauty of Alaska will likely remain embedded in your mind and your heart.

 

 

Post shared from Windstar Cruises Blog
Written by Curtis Carr and Original can be found here

Europe River Cruise with Viking

Exploring the rivers of Europe with Viking

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 695 0

Are you charmed by the idea of exploring Europe but do not want a traditional coach tour? You want to be right in the heart of the towns and villages but still want the comfort of having a guide? Then a river cruise sounds just about perfect for you! Immerse yourself in the Old World as you sail Europe’s most iconic rivers. Discover Danube gems like Vienna and Budapest. See storied Rhine castles. Trace French history along the Seine. From the Main to the Moselle, the Douro to the Dordogne, the Viking experience is unsurpassed.

Why Cruise the Rivers of Europe with Viking?
Viking takes you to the heart of Europe via its grand waterways, providing you with boundless insight into the continent’s cultural and historic treasures. Immerse yourself in the storybook villages, vibrant cultural centers and picturesque landscapes of The Netherlands, Austria, Germany, France, Hungary and Switzerland, and unlock a whole new world of discovery. Here is a sample of what you will see on one of their European river cruises:

  • Culinary delights in Lyon, France
  • Medieval Prague, “City of a Thousand Spires”
  • The elegant boulevards and grand monuments of Paris
  • Historic Wittenberg, home to Martin Luther
  • Fairytale windmills of The Netherlands
  • Wine tastings in the quintas of Portugal’s Douro Valley
  • Budapest’s regal Parliament building and Chain Bridge
  • Vienna’s inspirational legacy of classical music
  • France’s famed wineries in Beaujolais, Bordeaux and beyond

 

The Viking Difference

Award-Winning Viking Longships – Viking’s Longships showcase innovative engineering, streamlined Scandinavian design with understated elegance, and provide you with unprecedented levels of comfort designed to connect you to your destination.

Unparallelled Staterooms & Suites – with their exclusive patented corridor configuration, Viking is able to offer a variety of stateroom choices that include spacious Veranda and French Balcony staterooms. As well as Veranda and Explorer Suites.

Destination Focused Dining – Menus include regional cuisine and always available classics enhanced with locally sourced ingredients, so you can explore new cultures through food.

Award-Winning Service – Viking has over 7,000 staff members worldwide devoted to making your stay on board as memorable as possible. And with 90% of their staff returning year after year, you can expect the same quality service, cruise after cruise.

Onboard Enrichment Programs – While sailing you’ll want to take advantage of Cultural enrichment programs to supplement your onshore experience such as Guest Lectures & Port Talks, Destination Performances, Craft and Cooking Demonstrations and Destination Insight films available right in your stateroom.

Onshore Experiences – You’ll enjoy an included guided excursion in every port, plus The Viking Way® of exploration.

 

THE RIVERS OF EUROPE

Danube River Cruises
Coursing through Germany, Austria, Hungary and seven other countries all the way to the Black Sea, the Danube is the soul of Central Europe. Join us along these culture-rich banks, whose scenic vineyards, ancient monasteries and elegant cities have inspired travelers for centuries.

Rhine River Cruises
Raise a glass of Riesling to our acclaimed Rhine River cruises through Switzerland, Germany and The Netherlands. See how the Rhine, Main and Moselle river systems unfold to create a spellbinding display of storybook villages, Dutch windmills, German vineyards and Gothic cities.

Elbe River Cruises
Sail the Elbe to reaches seldom seen in Germany and the Czech Republic. Insights greet you at every bend as you explore majestic Berlin and Prague, delve into Wittenberg’s religious history and contrast the delicacy of Meissen porcelain with the rocky brawn of Saxon Switzerland.

Main River Cruises
Winding between Mainz and Bamberg, the Main passes through 34 locks—16 more connect it to the Danube via the Main-Danube Canal. While this engineering feat enables river travel across the entire length of Europe, it also unlocks a trove of unspoiled landscapes and historic towns.

Seine River Cruises
The Seine meanders on a serpentine path through the Norman countryside, an historic region of great pastoral beauty. Drift along dreamy apple orchards and medieval ruins. Explore elegant Paris. See Monet’s Giverny home. And honor World War II heroes on Normandy beaches.

Moselle River Cruises
The romantic Moselle winds through an enchanting landscape of castles, picture-book villages and terraced slate hillsides that form one of the world’s richest wine regions. With a settled history that predates the Romans, it is yours to discover on one of our Moselle river cruises.

Saône River Cruises
Cruise the Saône with Viking, as gentle countryside and historic cities unfold before you. Savor Lyon, France’s traditional gastronomic capital. Taste ruby-red wines in the lush vineyards of Beaujolais and Burgundy. Join us to experience this rewarding corner of France, up close.

Rhône River Cruises
Enjoy the diverse pleasures of life along the Rhône with Viking. Savor Lyon, France’s gastronomic heart; the Beaujolais wine region; quaint Provençal villages; and historic Avignon and Arles. For those who love fine food, beauty and riveting history, Rhône cruises are pure bliss.

Douro River Cruises
Our Portugal cruises uncover one of Europe’s oldest and most renowned wine regions. Cruise the Douro River through ancient wine estates, passing barcos rabelos laden with casks en route to Porto and Lisbon. A sublimely scenic corner of Europe, with equally sublime food and wine.

 

And although not traditionally “Europe” river cruises through Russia and the Ukraine are not to be missed!

Russia River Cruises
The Viking fleet is the finest operating along Russia’s rivers today, delivering eye-opening experiences in historic Moscow and canal-laced St. Petersburg. Beyond, see the domed churches of Uglich and Yaroslavl, and witness the seldom seen rural tranquility of this enigmatic country.

Ukraine River Cruises
Uncover Europe’s best-kept secret as you sail Ukraine’s Dnieper River through a maze of whisper-thin tributaries and village-studded bays. Colorful folk traditions, hearty cuisine and rich culture lead the way from the Golden Gates of Kiev to the Odessa Steps of the Black Sea.

 

Destination focused. Culturally enriching. Carefully curated. Isn’t it time you discover what makes Viking the world’s leading small ship cruise line? Check out Vikings current offers here

3 Mediterranean Cruises Not To Miss

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 470 0

Still seeking a summer Mediterranean getaway? It’s not too late to plan your perfect summer escape to the sun-drenched shores of Italy, France and Spain. Here are three of our top late-summer Mediterranean picks – and even better, all are aboard Riviera so you’ll be able to enjoy her chic new upgrades and surprises from her April dry dock.

Eternal Glamour | 7 Days – July 26, 2019: Rome to Barcelona
A TASTE OF THE RIVIERAS | On this voyage, you’ll savor every moment of a full week sailing along the French and Italian Rivieras. In Portofino, learn the secrets to perfect pesto and other Ligurian specialties from a local chef or perhaps cruise to nearby seaside villages for a unique look at life on the Italian Riviera. From Monte Carlo, explore some of the most enchanting villages on the French Riviera such as Saint-Paul-de-Vence and Eze and while in Cannes you might shop designer boutiques on La Croisette. A day in Provence brings about the opportunity to spend the afternoon with a Michelin-starred chef at her cookery school at a classic Provençal property or visit elegant Château Val Joanis for a wine tasting and luncheon. These are but the beginning of the alluring experiences at your fingertips during this Mediterranean cruise.

Regal Riviera | 12 Days – August 2, 2019: Barcelona to Rome
A VOYAGE FIT FOR ROYALTY | You will be treated like royalty as you explore the gems of the Mediterranean from the islands of Spain to the French Riviera to the storied shores of Italy. From Palma de Mallorca, visit Valldemossa’s sprawling monastery or take a vintage train to the picturesque town of Soller, a longtime summer retreat for artists and writers. In Provence, explore the setting for some of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings in the classic village of Saint-Remy de Provence or travel back in time with a visit to UNESCO-protected Avignon, a walled city home to the largest Gothic palace ever built. With two full days in Livorno, you’ll have time to explore more of Florence, Tuscany and Pisa. Perhaps visit the galleries and palaces of Florence on one day and the celebrated vineyards of Tuscany or the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa the next.

Classic Connoisseur 14 Days – August 14, 2019: Rome to London
THE FINER THINGS IN LIFE | This unique journey combines the colorful coasts of Italy and the Mediterranean with coveted calls on the Iberian Peninsula and along the western coast of France. You might begin your voyage with an exquisite lunch at a villa in Tuscany or by visiting Andrea Bocelli’s vineyard and amphitheater. In Spain, delve into the local culture by tapas hopping in Barcelona, attend a flamenco performance in Málaga and explore Andalusia’s enchanting white villages from Cádiz. Further north, two overnights in Bordeaux give you ample opportunity to visit some of the region’s top vineyards and châteaux for memorable tastings and tours. In Saint-Malo, you might close your voyage with a unique Culinary Discovery Tour featuring a special dégustation lunch prepared by Escoffier trophy-recipient Chef Julien Hennote at the grand Castelbrac hotel.

 

Inspired? Let us help start planning your Mediterranean escape now.

 

 

Apr 30, 2019 – Originally Posted by Oceania Cruises in Mediterranean

Lamararap Indonesia

Itinerary Spotlight: Explore Indonesia with Silversea

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 728 0

Immerse in culture and tradition during an amazing 31-day journey of discovery. Be transported by a patchwork of languages, stunning beauty and delicious cuisine in kaleidoscopic Indonesia. Then, embrace your inner explorer as you prepare for an intoxicating voyage of myth and magic in as da Gama and Magellan before you. A route less travelled by all but the curious, be prepared to be amazed.

31 Day Asia Cruise | 25 Ports 4 Countries
Yangon to Darwin March 05 2019 on board the Silver Discoverer

 

DAY 1 | YANGON, MYANMAR
The capital until 2006, Yangon (Rangoon) is Myanmar’s largest city and its commercial center. It is truly developing, and full of juxtapositions: new high-rises abut traditional Southeast Asian shophouses while down the street from a frozen yogurt bar, a sidewalk dentist goes to work. Yangon’s rich collection of colonial architecture is one of its biggest draws; The Strand and its surrounding side streets look today much as they did at the turn of the century, when Yangon—then Rangoon—was under British rule. Yangon’s most iconic sight is unquestionably the enormous gilded Shwedagon Pagoda, but what makes it worth visiting beyond that is the rich, vibrant life that spills out of people’s homes and onto the streets. Colorful and chaotic, Yangon is a feast for the senses. Grinning uniformed schoolchildren and preadolescent monks vie for sidewalk space as vendors hawk fried goods and longyi-wearing businessmen go off to work. On a street of Indian-run paint shops sits the country’s only synagogue, a 19th-century relic; blocks away rise the steeples of St. Mary’s Cathedral, another reminder of the city’s colonial past.

 

DAY 2 | DAY AT SEA
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is whale watching from the Observatory Lounge, writing home to your loved ones or simply topping up your tan by the pool, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.

 

DAY 3 | PORT BLAIR, INDIA
The Andamans lie on the ancient trade routes between India and the Far East. They were known to mariners from as early as the 7th century. Among the first western visitors in the 13th century was Marco Polo, who wrote of the inhabitants as being “hostile people who would kill and eat any outsider that ventured onto the islands”. However, it was later established that cannibalism was not a practice in the islands. The islands were first settled by the British in the late 18th century when Captain Archibald Blair, on behalf of the British East India Company, founded a naval station on Chatham Island, now known as Port Blair. In 1858 a penal colony was established in Port Blair, used mainly to hold Indian freedom fighters. The clearing of jungle areas and reclaiming of swamps by these first convicts gradually helped to establish a settlement.

The growing population consisted mostly of convicts who, after they served their time, decided to stay and settle in the Andamans. During World War II, the islands were occupied by the Japanese, who incarcerated many Indians on the suspicion of being British spies. As a result the local tribes took up guerrilla activities against the Japanese. When India gained independence from Britain in 1947, the islands became part of the Indian Union.

 

DAY 4 | SOUTH CINQUE ISLAND (ANDAMAN ISLANDS), INDIA
South Cinque is home to some of the most spectacular beaches in the Andaman Islands. A 1 km (0.6 mile) wide sand bar connects South Cinque to North Cinque Island and the two islands are sometimes referred to as being a single Cinque Island. The Cinque Island Wildlife Sanctuary is a specially designated National Park Area with many coral bommies fringing the island. South Cinque Island also belongs to the Mahatma Gandhi Marine Park where more than forty coral species have been recorded in an impressive example of the biodiversity of this region.

 

DAY 5 | DAY AT SEA

 

DAY 6 | SABANG PULAU WE, INDONESIA
Sabang is the largest city on the island of Weh or Pulau Weh. Weh is a small, active volcanic island, just northwest of Sumatra. It’s at the northern end of the Indonesian Archipelago and at one time, was a coal loading station for ships passing between Europe and Asia. Today, the island is known for its ecosystem and much of its surrounding sea and inland areas have been declared as wildlife protection areas by the Indonesian government. Pulau Weh attracts visitors seeking underwater diving, hiking through the volcanic mountains and relaxation by the beach. Those venturing into the city will see some of the remaining colonial buildings and the large trees that offer them shade. The island and city are virtually untouched by tourism and a sense of adventure when exploring ashore is needed.

 

DAY 7 | SIMEULUE ISLANDS (SUMATRA), INDONESIA
With some of the highest biodiversity of anywhere in the entire Asia-Pacific region, the small island group of Simeulue is as yet unspoiled and undeveloped. Located at the northern tip of Sumatra off the west coast, the islands are part of Aceh province. Several earthquakes have rocked this region in recent years; one in particular is reported to have raised part of the islands about 2 meters, or 6 feet, up out of the water. However, the door of discovery is still open for travelers keen to find pristine beaches, solitary local fishing boats colorfully floating on the blue sea, and stunning peninsulas with long peeling waves. The islands are also enriched with Islamic culture and friendly local people.

 

DAY 8 | NIAS ISLANDS, INDONESIA
The island of Nias is heavily green with thick tropical forests edging into the settlements along the narrow roads that skirt the island. The terrain is hilly, green, lush, with frequent steep river valleys draining water from the interior’s highlands, crossed by numerous bridges. From the air and from the ground, the sea around the island can appear murky from the runoff of all the rivers and the fertile soils they run through. Roughly 75% of the population is farmers and there are open-air markets selling fresh produce all along the roads. When school lets out at mid-day the narrow roads become clogged with kids in school uniforms heading home on foot and moped. Sections of the coastline are rough, jagged limestone reef rock. Areas of Nias were dramatically altered by the tsunami of 2004.

 

DAY 9 | PADANG SUMATRA FOR CUPEK, INDONESIA
Padang is part old port town, and part modern capital of West Sumatra. Dutch colonialists traded coffee and spices from the harbor starting in the 17th century. Driving out from Padang one can reach Cupek, a Minangkabau village in Sumatra’s interior. The ancestral homelands of the Minangkabau, devout Muslims, are centered in West Sumatra’s lush highlands and stretch as far as the seashore. They claim the world’s largest matrilineal society and ownership of a family’s property—their homes, rice paddies and the like—passes from mother to daughter. Crops like rice, cabbage, beans and the all-important chilies grow in abundance, and the Minangnese are known for their spicy, sumptuous cuisine.

 

DAY 10 | DAY AT SEA

 

DAY 11 | UJUNG KULON NATIONAL PARK, INDONESIA
The UNESCO World Heritage site of Ujung Kulon National Park rests at the southwestern tip of Java. The National Park includes the Ujung Kulon Peninsula that contains the largest remaining lowland rain forest on the Java plain, as well as the Natural Reserve of Krakatoa. Birds that flourish in these habitats include Asian Pied Hornbill, Caspian and Bridled Terns, as well as White-bellied Sea Eagles, Tiger Shrikes, Sunda Minivets, and Javan Kingfisher. Hundreds of barking deer can also be found in the dense tropical forest, along with macaques, monitor lizards and wild boars.

 

DAY 11 | ANAK KRAKATOA, INDONESIA
In the Sunda Strait of Indonesia lies an area that was witness to one of the most devastating volcanic eruptions in historical times. Anak Krakatoa is a volcano that first emerged from the sea in 1930 and has grown continuously since the 1950s. The active nature of the volcano is the ultimate decider of whether or not a landing can be made on the black sand beaches of the island. Krakatoa’s active fumaroles, lava flows, beautifully colored rocks and the volcano itself are all stunning.

 

DAY 12 | DAY AT SEA

 

DAY 13 | KARIMUNJAWA (JAVA SEA), INDONESIA
This idyllic location, established in 1999 under Swedish management and ownership, is located on one of the 27 tropical islands in the Karimunjawa archipelago. Covered by coconut trees and surrounded by white sandy beaches, Menyawakan Island lies some 64 nautical miles off Java’s coast. This tranquil and secluded setting attracts discerning guests who appreciate the tropical and laid back ambiance.

 

DAY 14 | SUMENEP, INDONESIA
Sumenep is sleepy town located on the eastern side of the island of Madura. Sumenep and the surrounding areas are home to a number of traditional arts and crafts – among them the production of Keris (daggers), batik, woodcarving of the Karduluk style, and the Muang Sangkal dances. Sumenep is also known for timeworn villas and historic buildings including the Sumenep Great Mosque and the Palace (Keraton) of Sumenep. The island of Madura may be most famous for its bull races, which are opened with the performance of Saronen, a traditional Madurese music. These races started as a gesture of gratitude for abundant harvest and are now an important part of Madurese traditions.

 

DAY 15 | PROBOLINGGO (JAVA), INDONESIA
Probolinggo is a beautiful and enchanting city on the north coast of East Java, Indonesia. It is located on one of the major highways across Java, has a harbour filled with fishing vessels and is surrounded on the landward side by the Probolinggo Regency, but is not part of the regency. Probolinggo is home to the Javanese, Maduranese, Pendalungan (descents of Java and Maduranese) and Tenggerese, who still practice their centuries-old customs and traditions. Probolinggo is bordered by the imposing Mount Semeru, Bromo and Argopuro mountain group, and lined with lovely beaches to the north. Probolinggo’s volcanic, mineral-rich soil is highly fertile. The mountains surrounding Probolinggo City abound with lush, tropical foliage, spectacular panoramic vistas, and points of natural interests, history and culture. The motto of the city is ‘Bestari’, which is an acronym of bersih (cleanliness), sehat (healthy), tertib (orderly), aman (safe), rapi (neat), and indah (beautiful).

 

DAY 16 | BALI, INDONESIA
Bali really is as alluring as everyone says. This island, slightly bigger than Delaware, has it all: beaches, volcanoes, terraced rice fields, forests, renowned resorts, surfing, golf, and world-class dive sites. But what sets Bali apart from other nearby tropical destinations is Balinese tradition, and villagers dedicated to celebrating it. The hundreds of temples, dances, rituals, and crafts linked to their ancient Hindu faith aren’t a show for tourists, but a living, breathing culture in which visitors are warmly received by the Balinese, who cherish their own identities.

 

DAY 17 | DAY AT SEA

 

DAY 18 | KOMODO ISLAND, INDONESIA
Komodo, the volcanic island of giant lizards, lies 320 miles (515 kilometres) east of Bali. Komodo is 25 miles (40 kilometres) long and 12 miles (19 kilometres) wide; its parched hills ascend to a height of 2,410 feet (734 metres). Komodo is home to a small community of some 500 people who make their living primarily from fishing. The island’s centrepiece is Komodo National Park, where you will find the most tangible legacy left behind from the Jurassic Era. Komodo Island was little-known and the Komodo dragons were only a myth until pearl fishermen discovered the giant lizards in the early-1900s. Extinct almost everywhere else, the island attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world who come to see the Komodo dragons in their natural habitat. Komodo National Park has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve.

The Komodo dragon’s great bulk and weight are its most unique characteristics; even hatchlings average 20 inches (51 centimetres) in length. The adult male can reach 10 feet (3 metres) and weigh up to 330 pounds (150 kilos). Females attain only two-thirds of this size, and lay up to 30 eggs at a time. With their saw-like teeth, these fierce creatures are able to rip apart a deer, goat or wild pig. The animals have an uncanny sense of smell, and are considered among the world’s most intelligent reptiles. They are quite agile over short distances, and can move swiftly to capture their prey. The Indonesian Directorate of Nature Conservation (PPA) administers Komodo National Park. A park ranger must escort all visitors; independent exploration of the park is not permitted.

KOMODO ISLAND PINK BEACH
Pink Beach earned its name for the way the beach can appear to have a rosy hue in certain lights. The color comes from small flecks of red coral mixed in with the fine white reef sand. With a few trees along the beach for shade, this stretch of coast makes a fine place to relax or enjoy a snorkel or dive in the crystal clear waters. It is possible to spot a striped clown fish nestled among the protective tentacles of its sea anemone host, or to see a grouper lazily swimming by a flamboyant soft coral. The reef here is now protected by law and the maturing corals are a joy to behold.

 

DAY 19 | ENDE FLORES, INDONESIA
The town of Ende is found on the south coast of Flores, part of the Lesser Sunda Islands. Ende is also the capital city of Indonesia’s Ende Regency. Unlike many other places in Indonesia, the town and the island are predominantly Roman Catholic as they were under Portuguese rule for some 300 years. Ende is the gateway to the Kelimutu National Park to see the three coloured lakes of Kelimutu. To get there one will have to drive through the Indonesian rainforest and eventually climb up to see the “Lake of Young Men and Maidens”, the “Bewitched Lake” and the “Lake of Old People” –all of which not only have different colours controlled by the changes in chemical conditions, but also a distinctive physical structure, and a unique geochemical and hydrothermal regime.

 

DAY 20 | LAMARARAP, INDONESIA
Lamararap is the region of the last two traditional whaling villages in Eastern Indonesia. Although slowly dying out, the ancient tradition of whaling is still the principal economic activity here – as proven by the many types of whalebone on display in the village. Whaling boats are made entirely of wood with wooden pegs and there is not a nail to be found. The boats’ sails are made of woven palm leaves. In an impressive feat of strength and skill, traditional whalers with harpoons leap off a long bowsprit and spear the whale while still holding the harpoon. Sometimes a demonstration of this process can be offered to Lamalera’s visitors. Whaling permeates life here with whale and boat patterns being prevalent in the village’s hand-woven ikat textiles.

 

DAY 21 | TAKPALA (KALABAHI), INDONESIA
Kalabahi is the capital and main seaport of Alor Island, the largest landmass in the Alor archipelago. Roughly 60,000 inhabitants call Kalabahi home and enjoy a wide variety of goods and services available here. Kalabahi has grown as a town in part because it is situated on some of the only level ground on the volcanic and rugged island of Alor. Inland from Kalabahi is the small traditional village of Takpala. The attractive rustic homes of the village are open and airy, and the Abui people living here harvest, dry, roast and grind their coffee by hand. The traditional dances and welcome ceremonies express a close-knit society cultivated in this tranquil setting.

 

DAY 22 | PULAU TELLANG, INDONESIA
Pulau Tellang is a tiny island of Indonesia, located just next to Pulau Maopara and part of the Moluccas province. Pulau Tellang is part of the small Barat Daya archipelago and stretches less than a mile across. The hilly terrain of the island was created by ancient volcanic activity; it reaches to a modest 600 feet in some places, which makes it a lovely spot to visit and hike to view its unique fauna and lush vegetation. The island lies on the southern edge of the Banda Sea, where visitors can take in beautiful sunsets as they rest on the pristine, rarely visited beach.

 

DAY 23 | BANDA NEIRA ISLAND, INDONESIA
Banda Neira is situated in a volcanic area and steam can occasionally be seen rising from the peak of neighboring Gunung Api. An eruption caused a lava flow here as recently as the 1980s. The town itself is historic and was wealthy in its heyday thanks to plentiful nutmeg, clove and pepper trees. The colonial buildings of Banda Neira are part of the charm of this administrative center of the Banda Islands; a group of ten small volcanic islands. The remains of two impressive Dutch forts are in various stages of restoration and are on UNESCO’s “Tentative List” to become a World Heritage Site along with the rest of the Banda Islands themselves.

 

DAY 24 | DAY AT SEA

 

DAY 25 | TRITON BAY, INDONESIA
In 2008, the Kaimana Regency declared a 6000 square kilometer (over 2,300 square mile) Marine Protected Area around the waters of Triton Bay. Conservation International maintains an office in Kaimana and a field station out in Triton Bay where visiting scientists can do their work studying the staggering marine biodiversity of the reserve. It is truly second to none, and the area offers everything from the tiniest pygmy seahorses, to large and graceful whale sharks. Triton Bay is known for its beautiful soft coral gardens as well as nesting green turtles, and a population of coastal Bryde’s whales.

 

DAY 25 | AIDUMA ISLAND, INDONESIA
On the southern coast of West Papua, Indonesia lies the small Aiduma Island, an oceanic paradise and a destination for divers and snorklers. Aiduma Island is described by locals as what Indonesia was like several decades ago, still unspoiled by commerce and traffic. The coast off of Aiduma Island is home to diverse and lovely soft coral forest, while locals live modestly in grass bungalows on shore. Below the surface of Aiduma’s aquamarine waters live technicolor coral reefs that are home to a beautiful array of reef fish, including schools of large blue-ring angelfish, clownfish, striped angelfish and lionfish. Above the surface, lucky visitors may see dolphins leaping as they travel the crystal seas.

 

DAY 26 | DAY AT SEA

 

DAY 27 & 28 | AGATS (ASMAT), INDONESIA (OVERNIGHT)
The Asmat is a region of nearly inaccessible forested wetland that has long sheltered Asmat tribes from outsiders. The village of Agats is the capital of the Asmat region. The homes, longhouses, shops, schools and religious centers of Agats are all located along elevated wooden boardwalks in the heart of a dense mangrove thicket. The Asmat Museum is a must-see. Here it is possible to dote over exceptional examples of the Asmat’s renowned and vibrant woodcarving traditions. Elaborate displays of ancestor poles, drums, body masks, shields, daggers, and skulls, are reminders that headhunting and cannibalism were practiced here until the 1970s.

 

DAY 29 | DAY AT SEA

 

DAY 30 | SANGLIAT DOL VILLAGE (YAMDENA ISLAND), INDONESIA
Located in the Maluku Province of Indonesia are the Tanimbar Islands, of which Yamdena is the largest. On the east coast of Yamdena, is the village of Sangliat Dol, which holds some of the best megalithic remains known in the area. A monumental stone staircase extends from the beach to the village and overlooks the sea. This and a large stone ship are some of the megalithic remains to be found here.

 

DAY 31 | DAY AT SEA

 

DAY 32 | DARWIN, AUSTRALIA
Darwin is Australia’s most colorful, and exotic, capital city. Surrounded on three sides by the turquoise waters of the Timor Sea, the streets are lined with tropical flowers and trees. Warm and dry in winter, hot and steamy in summer, it’s a relaxed and casual place, as well as a beguiling blend of tropical frontier outpost and Outback hardiness. Thanks to its close proximity to Southeast Asia and its multicultural population it also seems more like Asia than the rest of Australia. Darwin is a city that has always had to fight for its survival. The seductiveness of contemporary Darwin lifestyles belies a history of failed attempts that date from 1824 when Europeans attempted to establish an enclave in this harsh, unyielding climate. The original 1869 settlement, called Palmerston, was built on a parcel of mangrove wetlands and scrub forest that had changed little in 15 million years.

It was not until 1911, after it had already weathered the disastrous cyclones of 1878, 1882, and 1897, that the town was named after the scientist who had visited Australia’s shores aboard the Beagle in 1839. During World War II it was bombed more than 60 times, as the harbor full of warships was a prime target for the Japanese war planes. Then, on the night of Christmas Eve 1974, the city was almost completely destroyed by Cyclone Tracy, Australia’s greatest natural disaster. It’s a tribute to those who stayed and to those who have come to live here after Tracy that the rebuilt city now thrives as an administrative and commercial center for northern Australia. Old Darwin has been replaced by something of an edifice complex—such buildings as Parliament House and the Supreme Court all seem very grand for such a small city, especially one that prides itself on its casual, outdoor-centric lifestyle. Today Darwin is the best place from which to explore Australia’s Top End, with its wonders of Kakadu and the Kimberley region.