Cruise Critic's yearly cruise predictions that continue to include Asia as the next hot region may still be a tad premature but it's clear here this week that countries such as Singapore, China and Japan are serious about welcoming visitors.
At Seatrade, the fact that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has launched the first-ever cruise Web site devoted to North American and European passengers, is a move in the right direction. The site offers basic info (and lovely photography) on its member nations, which range from those that are on the usual Asian itinerary -- Singapore, Phillipines, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam -- to those that would be considered exotic even to experienced world travelers. Yes, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar also want to appeal to cruisers.
At this point, cruise travel to Southeast Asia represents a mere five percent of all ship calls. According to a statement from ASEAN, "cruise passengers in the Asia Pacific region are projected to grow by more than 40 percent" between now and 2015.
That's a big jump. Tempted? Check out Cruise Critic's own Asia section; in addition to port profiles on Da Nang, Hong Kong and Singapore, we're adding spotlights on Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo in the near future. As well, we also feature stories on river cruising along the Yangtze.