Not long ago, cruise lovers seemed content simply to soak up the sun in the Caribbean or experience the cultural wealth of the Med.
Today, their thirst for new experiences has seen the market expand to every corner of the globe and in particular to the exotic East.
One firm taking advantage of this demand is Costa Cruises, which has based two ships in China.
Marco Rosa, UK managing director, says: ‘With the cruise industry continuing to develop amid the economic downturn, we have noticed a marked increase in demand for itineraries throughout the Far East.
‘The demand is there not only from passengers who have already visited traditional cruise destinations but from first-time passengers drawn by exotic destinations such as China, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam.
‘This market will only continue to grow. In 2013, Hong Kong’s cruise terminal will be completed, Shanghai will open its second terminal in 2010, while Singapore is converting its harbour front exhibition hall into an operational terminal.’
Costa Cruises’ Far East programme includes Costa Allegra’s 14-night China, Taiwan and Vietnam trip, departing Shanghai on August 22.
It costs £929 per person, a saving of £320, and the itinerary features fascinating Ho Chi Min City. For more details see www.costacruises.co.uk or call 0845 351 0552.
Princess Cruises’ established Far East programme features new ports in 2009, including Dalian in China and Seoul in South Korea. Itineraries include a 19-night South-East Asia and China fly/cruise on board superliner Diamond Princess, with departure from October to May 2010 and taking in Bangkok, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Taipei, Okinawa, Shanghai and Beijing. Fares start at £2,169pp.
New for 2009 are ‘explorer’ cruises to unusual places on the line’s smaller ship, Ocean Princess.
There are eight Far East cruises between November and April 2010, including a 17-night China and Japan Explorer fly/cruise from £2,439pp. See www.princess.com or call 0845 355 5800.
One closer destination seeing increased demand is Dubai. Costa Cruises is basing two ships in the region, giving passengers the chance to discover the exotic delights of Muscat, Fujairah, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain.
Cruises on the new Costa Luminosa include a seven-night Dubai-Oman-Bahrain cruise, departing December 12. Cruise-only prices start at £419pp, saving £190.