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Explore the wonders of Southeast Asia on your next cruise

Explore the wonders of Southeast Asia on your next cruise

A cruise to Asia sounds like a big undertaking, but in reality, it’s not far for Aussie cruisers. The delights of Southeast Asia are easily reachable from Aussie shores with just a few days at sea, and itineraries taking in this spectacular part of the world are increasingly popular and frequent.

There are so many possibilities for exploring the region’s beach resorts, buzzing cities and colourful cultures in a cruise ship. We’ve already taken you on a dreamy cruise to Southeast Asia in your mind - so here are a few more nitty-gritty details and an overview of the various types of places you can visit.

Papua New Guinea

Locals and tourists gather on lakatoi (long wooden boats) in Papua New Guinea

This country is not well-known or commonly marketed as a holiday destination, but it’s full of beautiful locations and incredible experiences. From the rich history and culture of Alotau to the dreamy and unspoilt Conflict Islands, Papua New Guinea has an array of amazing ports. It is also very close to Australia and serves not only as a stop on the way to other Southeast Asian ports, but a destination in its own right. You’ll find plenty of itineraries that focus on PNG exclusively.

If you’re heading here, we recommend the cultural tour of Maur Village from Wewak to gain some understanding of the ways of life in Papua New Guinea - at least, in one part of it. The cultural performances on the beach at Kitava Island is another must-see, and if you prefer active adventures, you could sign on for diving and snorkelling excursions which are especially incredible in Madang, renowned for its access to stunning underwater landscapes.

While several lines stop at Papua New Guinea, P&O Australia has developed a strong presence in the country and is the only line to visit certain ports including the Conflict Islands. The Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden, friendly and modern mid-sized ships, are both a great way to get there.

Bali, Phuket, islands and beach resorts

Wooden boats line the shore of a beach in Bali, Indonesia

Beaches and cruising go hand in hand, and there are plenty of tempting tropical stretches of sand ready to be enjoyed in Southeast Asia. Bali and Phuket, chief holiday destinations for Indonesia and Thailand respectively, are the most well-known, but there are more: Lombok, Langkawi and Ha Long Bay, to name a few.

For the ultimate in exquisite Southeast Asia beach scenery, get onboard a smaller vessel from Phuket and take a trip out to Phi Phi Island for snorkelling, island hopping and a good dose of incredulity regarding the existence of such a fabulous place that looks just like the travel brochures. For a peaceful and idyllic day spent lazing on the beach, take the trip to Senggigi in Lombok. In Ha Long Bay, you could step back in maritime history and take in the beauty from onboard a traditional Vietnamese “junk” boat.

There’s a huge array of ships that can take you to these amazing places. Get onboard the Sun Princess from Fremantle and head north, or get onboard the Voyager of the Seas in Singapore and start your cruise right there in the region.

Singapore, Jakarta and major cities

Purple lights illuminate Gardens by the Bay in Singapore

One of the best things about cruising in Southeast Asia is the variety and contrast; from beach bliss, we move on to urban excitement. Singapore is the cruising hub for the region, and several lines have ships based there for some or all of the year. It’s easy to get there thanks to the major air travel hub that is Changi International Airport, with frequent flights from cities in Australia, New Zealand and around the globe. You could fly in and hop aboard the Sapphire Princess, the Westerdam, the Pacific Dawn or one of many other ships with itineraries departing the city, or sail from Australia to visit the sights and sound of stylish, spirited Singapore. There is so much to see and do here: shopping on Orchard Road, watching the light show in Marina Bay, touring Universal Studios on Sentosa Island, strolling the fabulous Botanical Gardens, and just wandering around the city sights including famous Raffles Hotel and bustling Chinatown.

Jakarta is not as common a cruise destination but is visited by lines such as Holland America and the small, boutique Regent Seven Seas. This big city is dynamic, fast-paced and fascinating. Also found on many Southeast Asia itineraries is Ho Chi Minh City, previously called Saigon. Here, large ships dock at nearby Phu My and passengers can take shuttles or public transport to visit the sights of HCMC. This place is a riot of colour, sound, scent, life and of course delicious flavour, an unforgettable addition to any cruise itinerary. We suggest signing on for a tour like Princess’s popular “Best of Ho Chi Minh City” to discover as much of it as possible.

Bird’s eye view of Ho Chi Minh City at sunset

Ready to visit the beautiful beaches, stunning cities and hidden gems of Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and beyond? Take a look at our Asia cruises page, get browsing through the many amazing options available there and set your sights on the ideal itinerary.

From party cruises in the Baltic to a classy Cunard voyage, I’ve been lucky enough to experience the full spectrum of cruise life. Onboard you’ll probably find me by the pool with a doorstop sized book in one hand and a mojito in the other, or sampling an array of delicious foods.

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