There’s been a lot of talk about Asian cruising in recent years, especially focused on China as a source market. To varying degrees of success, Chinese travelers have mostly taken to cruise lines and ships embarking on regional itineraries.
But not to be forgotten is that Asia is a popular destination for North American cruisers, too. Emerging from the pandemic that saw much of the region closed off to tourism and cruises, 2023 is already shaping up to be a comeback year for Asian cruises.
Japan has made a concerted effort to welcome cruise travelers back to its shores.
Beginning November 2022, Japan reopened to cruising following a two-and-a-half year suspension of sailing, and early 2023 itineraries are on the horizon again. In fact, Silversea Cruises is restarting its Asia cruise departures as soon as December 2022.
"We are delighted to confirm our return to Asia from December 2022, offering guests the luxury of choice with four ships sailing in the region," said Barbara Muckermann, Chief Commercial Officer for Silversea.
"We’re grateful for the work that the Japanese authorities have done to allow for a return to cruising," said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line. "Holland America Line’s guests love longer voyages to unique parts of the world, and we’ll be sailing to some incredible locations as our season in Japan and the rest of Asia begins."
Roundtrips from Yokohama, Japan (for Tokyo) are common, as are one-way itinerary routes in between, along with sailings that leave from Mumbai, India. And target ports can be found in surrounding countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
"The reopening of Japanese ports to the international cruise industry is an important and welcome development that not only vastly expands the vacation opportunities available to guests but also helps to significantly strengthen the Japanese tourism economy," added John Padgett, president of Princess Cruises.
Currently a variable, though, is China. As lockdowns still ensue in many Chinese cities due to COVID-19 outbreaks, cruises to the destination are up in the air -- at least for early 2023, affecting popular ports like Shanghai, Tianjin (for Beijing) and Hong Kong.
Silversea is scheduling all-inclusive cruises in Asia through May 2023 aboard Silver Muse/reviews/review.cfm?ShipID=1104), Silver Shadow, Silver Spirit and Silver Whisper. The luxury line is showcasing trips ranging in length from 10 to 20 days.
Meanwhile, Holland America Line is planning its own 11-to-14-day Asian itineraries heading to Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia through April 24, 2023 aboard Westerdam. Featured overnight visits will include Singapore; Kobe and Osaka, Japan; and Phuket, Thailand. Five individual routes are available, or they can be combined into non-repeating Collectors’ Voyages.
Princess Cruises’ Asian departures are even more varied, ranging from 5 to 19 days in length, visiting a total of 38 ports in four countries across 43 distinct itineraries. The line will emphasize iconic temples, shrines and castles, as well as the Kumano Fireworks Festival and seasonal blooming of the region's beautiful cherry blossoms. Princess also offers 13- or 14-day Highlights of Japan cruise-tours (with land extensions) for more vacation time in Tokyo and Kyoto.
Other cruise lines heading to Asia in early 2023 include Regent Seven Seas Cruises (10 to 29 nights on Seven Seas Explorer or Seven Seas Mariner) and Seabourn Cruise Line (14 to 28 days on Seabourn Encore).
Also visiting the region will be Azamara (including Japan circumnavigations), Cunard Line (featuring Queen Mary 2 sailing to and from Singapore), Oceania Cruises (deploying Nautica and Insignia in the region) and Viking (showcasing Bangkok, Bali and beyond). Plus, mainstream line Royal Caribbean International has its Spectrum of the Seas also scheduled on roundtrip cruises departing from Singapore.
Alternatively, it’s never too soon to start planning further into the future. Many cruise lines have already released their 2024 and even 2025 sailing itineraries, offering more choice and variety to those who would rather plan that bucket-list cruise through Asia once the region has fully reopened.
Updated December 16, 2022