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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
Qatar's capital is a city on the up, with vast sums of money being poured into construction projects for the 2022 World Cup and cultural venues such as the spectacular Museum of Islamic Art. There are also plenty of more traditional attractions, such as the atmospheric souks and the lovely waterfront Corniche promenade.
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.
Laid-back Langkawi boasts some of Malaysia’s finest beaches, and it’s a place where the traditional kampung (village) way of life survives in spite of the island’s development as a tourist destination. It’s also a popular spot for snorkelling and scuba diving thanks to the clarity of the surrounding waters.
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.
The sweltering city of Semarang, on the north coast of Java, is an intriguing mish-mash of Chinese, Islamic and Dutch colonial influences. We recommend escaping the heat with a trip up into the mountains to visit a coffee plantation, or joining an excursion to the extraordinary temple complex at Borobudur.
Indonesia: Surabaya (Java)
The city of Probolinggo is located on the north coast of East Java, and is the jumping off point for excursions to Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park. The sight of smouldering Mount Bromo and Mount Semeru, looming over the fertile volcanic plains, is a highlight of any trip to Indonesia.
Indonesia: Celukan Bawang (Bali)
Arriving in Benoa (Bali)
It's no surprise to us that Bali remains Indonesia's most popular tourist destination; though the island is not the undiscovered gem it once was, it's still a wonderful place to travel. The beaches, spectacular volcanic scenery and lush green rice terraces lend Bali a natural beauty that seems to dovetail perfectly with the island's distinct Hindu culture, which adorns the landscape with stunning temples. We advise steering clear of the backpacker beaches around Kuta, and heading instead for the quieter south coast resorts or the charming inland town of Ubud, the spiritual centre of the island.
Bali is seriously busy – it’s a long way for us, but just on the doorstep for Australians. The central mountains, or north and west coasts, are quieter.
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.
If you have time, make the slightly complicated journey via Labuan Bajo on to Rinca to see the Komodo Dragons.