Travel Agents & Asian Cruises
Specializing in Asian Cruises
Asia is a very large and diverse region, and as such the cruises have a lot of interesting and unique things to offer. The region has a rich culture that ranges from the colorful and vibrant areas in India to the cosmopolitan cities in Japan. Each cruise is as unique and different as the countries within Asia.
If you choose to specialize in Asian cruises you will have a lot of interesting options to offer your clients. It is important that you familiarize yourself not only with the cruise lines that operate there, but also the cultures in each country. Throughout Asia you'll find everything from vibrant cities to historic temples and world-renowned scuba diving. Cruises can vary in length dramatically, ranging from a short four or five day trip to more substantial month long options. Some cruises are designed as highlight tours of the entire region, while others delve into greater detail within one country.
The popularity of Asian cruises continue to grow. They appeal to people who are looking for an exotic and adventurous trip without the hassle of navigating unfamiliar transportation systems or tricky languages. Still, Asian cruises have not yet reached the level of popularity of their European or Caribbean counterparts. If you're hoping to market these trips, consider reaching out to a diverse audience. Educational groups, particularly in schools that have Chinese language programs, may be a good source of group travel. Local community groups that have an affinity for the Asian culture may also be interested. Many first and second generation Asian Americans are interested in revisiting their heritage. A cruise is a perfect opportunity to combine personal exploration with a luxurious vacation.
Because Asia is such a vast region, if you specialize in the entire area you will not struggle with the seasonal highs and lows that other regions experience. It is almost always the high season somewhere. As a travel agent it is your job to know what time of year is the best time to visit different countries throughout the region. This can vary dramatically based on monsoon seasons and temperature changes.
Types of Cruises
Because Asia is such a diverse region, there are many different types of cruises available. You'll find everything from luxury cruises to river cruises. There are mainstream cruises on large ships, and more specialized cruises on smaller ships. Many cruises leave from major cities such as Bangkok, Shanghai, Hong Kong, or Singapore. Most travelers have long flights before they arrive in the area so it is recommended that they have at least a few days to recover from the flight, overcome jet lag, and explore the city before the cruise begins. Most cruises last a week or two, but some are significantly longer. Some visit the major cities throughout the entire region while others focus more specifically on one geographic area and culture. These cruises usually stop in some smaller towns and allow visitors to see several different sides of one country. In many areas rural life is dramatically different from urban life, so a cruise that touches on both can be interesting and rewarding.
River cruises on the Yangtze in China are a popular option as well. Viking River Cruises is probably the most famous cruise line offering river cruises in the area. They offer trips between Chongqing and Nanjing. This river cruise is often included with tour itineraries that visit Shanghai, Beijing, and Xi'an, among other places. They also offer a river cruise along the Mekong Delta in Southeast Asia that travels between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. This cruise travels through Cambodia and Vietnam and visits famous sights include Angkor Wat and the capital of Phnom Penh.
Many cruises in the area stop at larger cities, but some also include beach destinations such as Phuket, Thailand or Bali, Indonesia. If your clients are particularly keen on seeing some of the area's most beautiful beaches, or wish to experience scuba diving or snorkeling in the area, then these stops are important.
Popular Cruise Lines
Many major cruise lines operate in various parts of Asia. Some of the most popular include Holland America, Princess and Royal Caribbean. Luxury cruise lines also have a significant presence in the area. Some of the most popular luxury lines include SilverSea, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Oceania, and Crystal Cruises. Some of the more popular routes include Princess' cruise which travels from Beijing to Bangkok and the Celebrity Cruise itinerary that runs from Hong Kong to Singapore. Several cruise lines run trips that either begin or end in Sydney, Australia and travel through Bangkok and other parts of Southeast Asia along the way.
Excursions are an important part of any trip to Asia. Regardless of what your client is interested in, excursions are likely to play an important role during their vacation. Many of the areas most impressive temples, like the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, do not lie on the water. A trip to the ruins can be exhausting, but very rewarding. Scuba diving is world-renowned in some parts of the region, but less than desirable in other parts. Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia have some stunning diving spots, but countries like Vietnam, China, and South Korea are more popular with travelers who hope to experience unique cultures. Some cruise lines offer more options for travelers who are interested in outdoor adventures or water sports, while others offer a focus on history, culture, or shopping. Discuss these aspects of travel with your clients to ensure that, together, you select the best cruise line for them.