Where Are We Going?
Tuesday, February 28 - SINGAPORE
Advanced, airy, and elevated, Singapore is a spectacular, futuristic vision of utopian city life. A healthy population of almost six million calls it home, but this is a city designed with space to breathe, and gorgeous outdoor parks, massive indoor greenhouses, and beautiful recreational spaces spread between the City of Gardens' skyscrapers and soaring structures. Once a quiet fishing village, now a glistening island city-state and an international beacon of science, education, and technology. Singapore is almost intimidatingly clean - and the hyper-efficient public transport system whips residents and visitors across the city's neighborhoods in a heartbeat. Glorious fountains and audacious skyscrapers loom up - nodding to traditional feng shui beliefs - and putting on dazzling illuminated displays after dark. The lush green botanical gardens are a spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site, covering 52 hectares and decorated with impressive colorful orchids. Or breathe in more of the freshest air by heading up to wander the canopy-strung bridges of MacRitchie Reservoir Park. Head for the iconic Marina Bay - a landmark of the city crowned by three interconnected towers, which watch out over island sprinkled waters. Jaunt between Little India and the atmospheric Chinatown in minutes, where beautiful temples - like the Chinese Thian Hock Keng Temple and Hindu Sri Mariamman Temple add rich cultural intrigue. Singapore's cuisine is a mouthwatering fusion of its Indian, Chinese, Indonesian, and Malay influences, taking enhancing the best of each. Enjoy dishes in towering restaurants, or toast the glowing skyline with the city's eponymous gin-soaked cocktail - a Singapore Sling.
Wednesday, March 1 - AT SEA
Thursday, March 2 - AT SEA
Friday, March 3 - NHA TRANG, VIETNAM
Set against a stunning backdrop of white sandy beaches, emerald hills, and distant islands, the Vietnamese city of Nha Trang balances boho beach life with historical heritage. The town is all things to all people; history buffs will enjoy the remnants of the impressive Cham Towers and its well-known pagoda. Those who like to discover a city through the finer things in life will no doubt appreciate the traditional hot spa treatments (the town is famous for them). Urbanites will want to jump in a pedicab and quickly immerse themselves in the frenetic, cacophonic street life. Finally, if drinking in miles of the beautiful Vietnamese countryside, gazing at one of the world's most beautiful bays, climbing cascading waterfalls, and learning about local village life is more your cup of tea, then look no further - Nha Trang is then a sum of its parts. Nha Trang's rich and storied history dates back to at least the 2nd century when it was known as Kauthara and was a part of the ancient Champa Empire. The Empire lasted 1,500 years, during which Nha Trang gained massive political clout as coastal and southern Vietnam's maritime center, even stretching into China. As the Cham Empire fell into decline and eventual collapse, the area became deserted, allowing it to become a veritable paradise for wildlife including tigers, which still roam the highlands. The region became the de facto capital of Indochina during the 19th century. Independence came to the area in 1954 after an eight-year independent war.
Saturday, March 4 - AT SEA
Sunday, March 5 - HONG KONG, CHINA (OVERNIGHT)
Monday, March 6 - HONG KONG, CHINA
Hong Kong is a vibrant, immersive metropolis and cultural hub with a spectacular, serrated skyline of soaring towers and neon lights. Dramatic harbor-front light shows transform the waterfront's gleaming buildings into a colorful canvas - best seen from the Star Ferry when the Symphony of Lights blares into life each evening. A city where future and tradition collide - perhaps best illustrated by the skyscrapers that feature gaping holes, designed to allow spirit dragons to soar from the hills to the waterfront unimpeded. Wander flowing shopping streets, wade through sprawling markets, and soak up the neon glory of this one-of-a-kind city - which continues to reach the sky. Hong Kong's dense jumble of activity is one of its main appeals, but once you've felt the thrill of rising to tower observation decks to see the soaring city from above, it's surprisingly easy to find peace among Hong Kong's intense urban wonders. Victoria Peak is the highest point, offering staggering views down over the city and harbor. The Peak Ram funicular can ferry you to the top, to the vantage point historically adored by the rich for the cooler air found here, away from the busy bustle of the city streets. Many elaborate temples add a tranquil element to Hong Kong's whirr, and Tin Hau temple has a surprisingly urban location, considering its dedication to the Goddess of the Sea. It did once occupy the shorefront, but the city's growth saw land reclaimed from the sea around it, leaving the temple marooned inland. Having been leased to the British for 99 years, milky tea is a revered tradition here -enjoy your cup with a serving of local dim sum. While it's easy to think all the bright lights are the sum of today's Hong Kong, you need only walk or board a tram for the short jaunt west into Western to discover a side of Hong Kong that is more traditionally Chinese but no less high-energy. You'll discover the real Hong Kong to the east of Central, in Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, and beyond. Amid the residential towers are restaurants, shopping malls, bars, convention centers, a nice smattering of museums, and - depending on fate and the horse you wager on - one of Hong Kong's luckiest or unluckiest spots, the Happy Valley Racecourse. Kowloon sprawls across a generous swath of the Chinese mainland across Victoria Harbour from Central. Tsim Sha Tsui, at the tip of the Kowloon peninsula, is packed with glitzy shops, first-rate museums, and eye-popping views of the skyline across the water. Just to the north are the teeming market streets of Mong Kok, and in the dense residential neighborhoods beyond, two of Hong Kong's most enchanting spiritual sights, Wong Tai Sin Temple and Chi Lin Nunnery. As you navigate this huge metropolis (easy to do on the excellent transportation network), keep in mind,\ that streets are usually numbered odd on one side and even on the other. There's no baseline for street numbers and no black-based numbering system, but street signs indicate building numbers for any given block.
3 Included Shore Excursions:
Classic Highlights of Hong Kong
Tuesday, March 7 - AT SEA
Wednesday, March 8 - AT SEA
Thursday, March 9 - SHANGHAI, CHINA (OVERNIGHT)
China's showpiece city Shanghai is staggering in its scope and scale. A city of 24 million and growing, Shanghai is a global center of soaring skyscrapers that is bursting with modernity and energy. The past hasn't been engulfed; however, leafy colonial streets and delicate temples linger below the skyward scramble. Wealthy and wild, Shanghai is one of China's most welcoming cities, and you'll find a hedonistic flair of excess and exuberance below the iconic, jagged Lujiazui skyline. Shanghai's celebrated waterfront, The Bund, is adorned with grand European-style buildings and Art Deco wonders. The glowing orb of the Pearl Tower, meanwhile, rockets above the bending Yangtze River providing a tall exclamation mark to China's futuristic vision. Just as the urban spread and claustrophobic towers begin to overwhelm you, you can discover the tranquillity of ancient temples and gardens. Then, stumble upon the contorted twist of the Shanghai Tower, a spectacular tube of glass and steel that dwarfs the city as the world's second-tallest building. Join Shanghai's high rollers to drink in swanky bars and restaurants or bite explosively flavourful street food below a flood of neon lights. More earthy delights keep the city grounded - head to an open park where locals flow through tai chi routines en masse or explore rich cultural treasures like the Jade Buddha Temple. A sensory assault, Shanghai is China at its most extreme and intense, yet perhaps most accessible and open-minded.
6 Included Shore Excursions:
Friday, March 10 - SHANGHAI, CHINA (OVERNIGHT)
5 Included Shore Excursions:
Saturday, March 11 - SHANGHAI, CHINA
4 Included Shore Excursions:
Shanghai Old & New
Sunday, March 12 - AT SEA
Monday, March 13 - KAGOSHIMA, JAPAN
One of Japan's most southernly major cities, Kagoshima, is dominated by the imposing Sakurajima volcano's cone - a legendary active volcano that broods, churns; and puffs out ash nearby. A pretty old-time ferry chugs across the still waters to the gently sloping foothills of the volcano and remains revered and feared, with the most dramatic recent eruption taking place in 1914 and spewing out a new bridge of land into the sea. Make the most of the geothermal activity in the area by indulging in a stress-simmering black sand bath. Incredibly relaxing, you'll be submerged in the warm sand as you feel your muscles relaxing in the heat and rejuvenating blood pumping around your body. Enjoy a privileged view of the iconic volcano's loom from the terraced garden of Senganen Garden. Built in 1658, this elegant, traditional garden has belonged to the Shimadzu family for 350 years. Wander the gardens - which bloom with Japan's renowned cherry tree blossoms, and feature tiny bridges looping over ponds and rock pools - before sitting back and sipping a wholesome green matcha latte. Be sure to check out the museums that highlight the Feudal Era and Satsuma Province's history and insights into the Kamikaze squadrons of World War II. Lake Ikeda is also close by, so be sure to keep an eye out for the legendary Issie monster.
4 Included Shore Excursions:
Tuesday, March 14 - AT SEA
Wednesday, March 15 - OSAKA, JAPAN
Japan's third-biggest city has thrown off its shackles and stepped out of the shadows to light up the sky with glaring neon signs and a larger-than-life outlook. Giant octopuses cling to buildings, and bustling restaurants pack in the crowds in this great and garish place, which is Japan at its most friendly, extroverted, and flavourful. So dive in headfirst to experience an all-out sensory assault of delicious food, shopping cathedrals, and glittering temples. Dotombori Bridge bathes in the multicolored, jewel-like lights of signage-plastered buildings, and the neon lights dance on the canal's waters below. Osaka is known as the nation's kitchen, and the Kuromon Ichiba Market has served as the city's spot to tuck in for almost 200 years. Full fo street food stalls -try pufferfish, savoury Okonomiyaki pancakes, or ginger and onion flavoured octopus, among the endless feast of exotic flavours. Osaka Castle is another of the city's landmarks, built in the 16the century by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. A modern museum now waits inside, where you can learn about the country's history and why this castle is a symbol of Japanese unity. Be sure to take the elevator up to the observation deck for a panoramic view of Osaka's spread. A colourful park encloses the castle and blooms with an ocean of pale pink cherry blossom during the season - the elegant black tiers rising from the pink haze below is one of Osaka's most alluring visions. Kyoto's peaceful cultural treasures and temples are also just a short jaunt away on Japan's sleek trains, should you wish to explore further afield.