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Setting sail from Dubai
For some Dubai, the most famous of the United Arab Emirates, is the ultimate glamorous holiday destination. Amazing high rise buildings, extensive air-conditioned shopping malls, and extraordinary man-made tourist attractions (such as indoor ski-slopes) abound. Some of the most glitzy and expensive hotels in the world can be found here, so for shopping, sunshine and fun for all the family, this is a great choice. For others, this is a cultural desert as barren as the sands which surround it. But if you search hard you will find the old souk-like centre around Dubai Creek - take a traditional dhow and you will begin to understand the magic of Arabia.
The historic Persian trading centre, the Bastakia Quarter, was a marketplace for pearls and textiles. Even then, this was the home of ‘tax-free', and the area is characterised by Arabian architecture, wind towers, and narrow lanes.
United Arab Emirates: Sir Bani Yas Island
Oman’s capital is low-rise and laid back, a far cry from the towering bling of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Take a stroll along the waterfront Corniche promenade, soak up the sun on one of the excellent beaches, or explore the mosques and forts of the atmospheric old quarter.
Formerly known as Bombay, this amazing city is larger than life and packed to bursting with things to see and do. Here people of all religions and nationalities live cheek by jowl, thriving communities from all over the world with the foods, smells, languages and rituals maintained at top volume.
The port of Kochi, commonly known as Cochin, occupies a strategic location on India’s Malabar Coast, and its history as a trading hub is reflected in the blend of European, Chinese and Arabian influences. It’s also the gateway to the idyllic Kerala Backwaters, which are best appreciated on a houseboat cruise.
Indonesia: Weh Island
As well as a plethora of luxury resorts, Phuket has a charming old town replete with pretty Sino-Portuguese architecture, and acts as a jump-off point for exploring nearby islands and coastline. Koh Phing Pan, better known as James Bond Island, and Ko Phi Phi are breathtakingly beautiful, as are the limestone formations that surround Krabi.
The Malaysian island of Penang is a fascinating blend of East and West, far more than just a beach destination. Lovely Georgetown, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to British colonial architecture, crumbling Chinese shophouses and incense-perfumed temples.
Singapore’s heritage as an important trading post means that there is a real cultural mix, with four official languages: English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Step away from the gleaming towers and you’ll find yourself transported into another world amongst the intoxicating streets of Chinatown and Little India.
Thailand: Bangkok (Laem Chabang)
Thailand’s sprawling capital is an assault on the senses, an invigorating blend of tradition and modernity. Soaring skyscrapers, air-conditioned shopping malls and an efficient public transport system combine with shimmering golden temples, ancient palaces, floating markets and at times gridlocked rush hour traffic.
Thailand: Ko Kood
The once sleepy backwater of Kompong Som, renamed after the former king Norodom Sihanouk, is the rising star of the Cambodian coast’s burgeoning tourist industry. Here you’ll find beautiful sandy beaches and a string of laid back islands that are still largely undeveloped.
Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City
Saigon, as it was known then, was the capital of the South during the Vietnam War, and American-style capitalism has been embraced more enthusiastically here than in the North, with a clutch of shining skyscrapers standing as testament to Vietnam’s surging economic growth.
Vietnam: Da Nang
Da Nang is the largest city in central Vietnam, and was the site of a major US airbase during the Vietnam War. The main point of interest in the city itself is the excellent Cham Museum, while nearby attractions include Hoi An, the Marble Mountains and the imperial citadel of Hue.
Vietnam: Ha Long Bay
Almost 2,000 limestone islands and karst formations are scattered across the remarkable World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay, said to have been created when a dragon fell to earth. A cruise on a small junk boat is the best way to see the many islands and caves, and it's also a great place to explore by sea kayak.
Arriving in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a fantastic place to begin or end a cruise, a striking mix of ancient and modern, Chinese and British, and there is a lot more to the city than just skyscrapers and high finance. On Hong Kong Island itself you'll find the bustling financial centre of Central district, the more traditionally Chinese Western district and the shops of Causeway Bay, while on the mainland Kowloon Peninsula the district of Tsim Sha Tsui is where most of Hong Kong's best hotels are located, and the atmospheric markets of Mong Kok are just to the north.
Take the Star Ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central. They have been carrying passengers since 1888, and these charming ferry boats offer an up-close look at Hong Kong’s much photographed skyline.
Your home from home
Once again Seabourn leaps ahead, expanding the most modern luxury fleet with the innovative Seabourn Encore and Ovation.
What we love
When Seabourn introduced the three sisters, they changed the face of luxury cruising. Seabourn Encore (and her sister Seabourn Ovation, due to be completed in 2018), with 604 guests on board, will take things a step further, with lots of new thinking and special additions, continuing Seabourn's magical ability to surprise and delight.
The contemporary décor appeals to a sophisticated and cosmopolitan crowd. With lots of outside space, you can enjoy an al fresco experience if you choose.
|Year launched||2016 (Seabourn Encore) / 2018 (Seabourn Ovation)|
Tailor-make your trip
Our favourite hotel in Dubai
So many to choose from! Our current Mundy preference is Al Qasr at the Madinat Jumeirah.
Private tours from Dubai
Head out into the desert for the lush valley of Wadi Hatta and Hatta Village, then travel by four wheel drive across the dunes.
Our favourite hotel in Hong Kong
The iconic Peninsula Hong Kong is, in our opinion, the city’s finest, and the Harbour View rooms offer picture postcard views of Victoria Harbour.
Explore Hong Kong
There’s more to Hong Kong than just the city, so explore Lantau Island, home to the Po Lin Monastery and its 34 metre high bronze Tian Tan Budda statue.