Monday, May 09, 2011

Cruising to Asia aboard Celebrity Cruise Line

Traveling to the Far East…an exotic destination with a myriad of countries to explore! Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Thailand; all have unique cultures, traditions, foods and languages, so this could be a bit of an intimidating trip for some.  Now imagine traveling to these foreign ports of call from the comfort and familiarity of a Celebrity cruise ship.  The Celebrity Millennium, to be exact. Beginning the winter of 2012 through early 2013 Celebrity Cruise Line will begin cruising through Asia.  Whether you want to explore the cosmopolitan cities or rural locales, hike the mountains or the rainforests, visit tranquil temples or opulent palaces, a cruise to Asia on the Celebrity Millennium is a vacation of a lifetime!

 The inaugural Asian season consists of three Hong Kong to Singapore cruises as well as several round-trip Singapore cruises.  Long flights and incredible embarkation ports demand pre or post cruise stays or a cruise tour to maximize your experience. Hong Kong, a former British territory is an exciting, electric city! A collision of Western and Eastern cultures, of ancient values mixed with the modern world, and of course, the shopping!  I could describe Singapore the same way and would recommend spending a few days in both cities. Cruise tours feature visits to Xian and Beijing giving guests the opportunity to see the Terra Cotta Warriors and stroll the Great Wall of China.

 Indonesia is a group of islands, 13,670 in all, though many are small and inhabitable.  Bali is the best known of these islands and when I think of Bali I think of the serene, lush tropical oasis that was the backdrop for Elizabeth Gilbert’s  “Eat, Pray, Love.” Rice paddies that cling to the hillside, dense jungles swarming with monkeys and hidden stone temples and sandy white beaches that beckon relaxation all make Bali the perfect retreat!  East of Bali is the island of Lombok, which has until very recently remained almost unknown.  With miles of pristine beaches, magical waterfalls, the large, looming volcano of Mount Rinjani (part of the celebrated “Ring of Fire”) combined with relatively few tourists, Lombok is paradise! Think of it as Bali was before the influx of tourism.

 Thai food has become popular throughout the world, but no matter how authentic your local restaurant claims to be, nothing compares to sampling the fare in Bangkok!  While some Thai food ingredients are familiar, others are strangely exotic, like the country itself.  Thailand has more than 30,000 Buddhist temples and Bangkok is home to some of the most beautiful in the world. If you have time to visit one consider the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which houses the country's most revered Buddha image and is on the grounds of the Royal Palace.  If you are lucky enough to be in Bangkok on the weekend check out Chatuchak, a huge, 9000 stall market that takes place in an area of the same name. It is a shoppers paradise selling everything from souvenirs, crafts,  clothes, antiques and all kinds of food from different regions of the country.

 It’s hard to figure if the increase of tourism in Vietnam is due to the country’s incredible natural beauty or American’s curiosity based on our history there.  Regardless, the Celebrity Millennium calls on several different ports in Vietnam that just may be the highlight of any cruise!  A stop in Ho Chi Minh City sharply illustrates the contrast of the adoption of Western culture and the connections to the past.  Skyscrapers stand alongside pagodas while motorbikes wizz by the food stalls that dot the streets.  Hue, another port of call, was the ancient Imperial capital city during the Nguyen dynasty.   The Citadel, constructed during the early 19th century, still remains, moat and all. Palaces, temples and royal tombs await exploration by anyone interested in the compelling history of the region. The cruise itinerary overnights in Hanoi. This allows time to visit the famed Hanoi Water Puppet Theatre and gives you time to travel to and enjoy the beauty of Halong Bay. This UNESCO World Heritage site is breathtakingly beautiful! Calm and clear bay water and thousands of limestone islands, many with lovely beaches and hidden grottos.

 A cruise on the Celebrity Millenium allows you to travel throughout the Far East on premier cruise line. Experience exotic cultures, sample authentic Asian cuisine, and discover ancient sites on an itinerary you’ve always dreamed about! The cruise specialists at Direct Line Cruises look forward to helping you plan this once in a lifetime vacation."

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