With miles upon miles of coastline, Asia is one of the most diverse continents in the world to cruise to. Routes are generally split into two areas.
Southeast Asia cruises cover the likes of Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia where you’ll catch a glimpse of old-world Asia and visit beaches of unparalleled beauty. Choose a cruise to Far East Asia, on the other hand, and you’ll be tracing the coastlines of China, Japan and South Korea.
Is it safe to cruise in Asia with Coronavirus?
Most cruise companies, including Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean, have set restrictions on anyone who’s been in mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau within two weeks — the virus’s incubation period — of the scheduled cruise date.
Some itineraries have also been altered or ports of call cancelled altogether. Use caution and take steps to safeguard yourself if you choose to travel to areas where Coronavirus is prevalent.
Best cruises to Asia
These cruise liners offer adventurous itineraries that cruise around Asia’s top port cities.
Best for families: Royal Caribbean
Boasting a fleet of large ships filled to the brim with activities, including mini-golf, game rooms and cinemas, there’s no need to worry about the kids getting bored — or yourselves, for that matter. Adjoining cabins also make sure everyone has their own space while being close enough to interact.
Room service included
No free alcohol
Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Discover Card
If you’re struggling to choose where to visit in Asia, Princess may have the solution. It offers a number of cruises lasting upwards of 30 days that combine key ports in Southeast Asia with those in the Far East. So you can travel to Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, Japan, South Korea and more, all in one trip.
Room service included
No free alcohol
No price matching
Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Discover Card, JCB
Best for affordable Far East cruises: Costa
Departing from either Singapore or Yokohama, Costa offers a number of cruises that explore ports of call in Japan, China and South Korea. Itineraries last between six and 15 days, with prices starting from as little as $629 per person.
Whether you want to combine your trip to Asia with a stop in Australia, Alaska, Canada or even South Africa, Cunard can help you do that with its extensive range of cruises. Most are at least three weeks long and begin in Japan, Hong Kong or Singapore before branching off to somewhere a little different.
With fine dining experiences, entertainment from world-class performers and a series of luxury staterooms to choose from, it’s no surprise Dream Cruises was voted ‘Best Luxury Cruise Liner’ in the 2019 TTG Travel Awards. For the ultimate treat, book a stay in The Palace Suite, where all-inclusive perks include butler service, VIP lounges and a premium beverage package.
Room service included
No free alcohol
No price matching
Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Cash, Debit
These luxury, medium-sized ships are ideal for navigating the Mekong and exploring the riverside cities of Vietnam and Cambodia. Enjoy onboard facilities in the fitness room, swimming pool or on the sundeck before heading offshore to discover the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat or the metropolis of Ho Chi Minh.
Best for keeping fit and healthy onboard: Star Cruises
All of Star’s luxury cruise liners have been designed with the health-conscious gym-goer in mind. From fully equipped gymnasiums to full-sized basketball courts and an outdoor jogging track, there are plenty of ways to stay active. For a pre- or post- gym snack, restaurants onboard can whip up nutrient-rich salads and fresh juices.
How we picked the best cruises
A well-designed itinerary is key for any cruise around Asia. So we made sure all cruises on this list stop at key ports, as well as some hidden gems, to allow guests to enjoy as much of this vibrant continent as possible.
Along with our own firsthand experience, we also checked out online reviews and trusted travel blogs to analyze the standard of facilities onboard the ships. This includes everything from the staterooms to the restaurants to the entertainment venues and options.
When is the best time to go to Asia?
With more than 40 countries making up the continent of Asia, choosing the best time to cruise can be a fun challenge. The bottom line is that you’ll be able to find a cruise heading to Asia almost any time of year.
Southeast Asia Cruises. The best time to cruise Southeast Asia, and also the busiest, is between November and March when temperatures are comfortable and humidity is low. However, you’ll still want to pack for a variety of weather conditions, especially if you’re heading to Vietnam where the climate varies considerably from north to south.
Far East Asia. Although you’ll find cruises sailing to the Far East throughout the year, for warm weather and less rain, book during spring or fall.
What are the must-do cruise excursions in Asia?
A cruise around Asia beckons all types of travelers, from adventurous foodies to curious historians. There are more than enough shore excursions to suit everyone.
Halong Bay, Vietnam. A night spent cruising around these spectacular limestone mountains jutting out of the Gulf of Tonkin and surrounded by fluorescent plankton will be one to remember.
Penang, Malaysia. Nestled along its heritage avenues and next to impressive street murals, you’ll find street food from across Asia, including the best Nasi Lemak, Curry Mee and Roti Canai.
Yangon, Myanmar. Head north past the city of Yangon to Old Bagan, where hot air balloon rides provide the perfect platform for viewing miles of ancient temples.
Beijing, China. Strap on those walking boots and tick another bucket item off your list with a walk along the Great Wall of China.
Seoul, Korea. Take the day to explore South Korea’s bustling capital city, home to one of the world’s largest markets, Namdaemun Market, perfect for street eats and bargaining.
Komodo National Park, Indonesia. Visit the islands of Rinca, Flores or Gilli Montana in search of Komodo Dragons in their natural habitat.
Watch the sunrise behind Cambodia’s iconic Angkor Wat, learn to dive from Malaysia’s Perhentian Islands, spot wild orangutangs in Borneo’s jungle and so much more on your cruise to Asia. Don’t forget to search for deals and discounts to save more on your cruise.
Frequently asked questions
WHO recommends that travelers to Asia make sure all routine vaccinations (measles, mumps, rubella, polio, tetanus and Diphtheria) are up to date, and shots are organized for hepatitis A and typhoid. Japanese encephalitis, rabies and yellow fever are required in a few cases, but it’s best to check with a healthcare professional at least eight weeks before you are due to set sail.
What you pack for your cruise to Asia very much depends on your itinerary. While most countries in Southeast Asia enjoy a tropical climate year-round, with the exception of North Vietnam, countries such as Japan and South Korea experience very cold winters. To be safe, pack plenty of light, breathable clothing to keep you cool and bring warm layers with you, too.
A number of cruise lines go to Thailand including Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Cunard Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Holland America.
Lily Jones is a travel writer at Finder. She also writes for other titles and manages her own blog, A Lil Guide. Lily graduated with a degree in Russian and Management studies from University College London in 2016. Having discovered her passion for travelling at a young age, she has lived in many cities around the world including St Petersburg, Melbourne and London. Other than travel, Lily has an innate passion for all things food.
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