To the Orient and Back

written by | Posted on July 24th, 2012

Grand Circle Cruise Line

Voyagers aboard Grand Circle Cruise Line’s Burma & the Irrawaddy River: Bagan to Mandalay itinerary are guaranteed scenic river views like the one above, plus the option to visit Bangkok’s Floating Market.

Luxury ships, cultural excursions, celebrity encounters—enjoy all of that and more with any of these three Asian cruise itineraries we’ve come across.

Thailand & Burma
Guests taking part in Grand Circle Cruise Line’s Burma & the Irrawaddy River: Bagan to Mandalay itinerary will enjoy the best of both worlds on this 16-day hotel plus cruise package.

The tour begins with your client’s arrival in Bangkok, Thailand. Before being sent straight to Burma, they’ll enjoy a 4-night stay at the Montien Bangkok Hotel, enjoying a guided city tour and local lunch, plus an optional Floating Village excursion. Then, the tour flies to Rangoon, Burma, for a 3-night stay at the Sedona Hotel Yangon and a city tour that highlights the area’s attractions, which include the Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda and the 200-ft.-long statue of the Reclining Buddha.

After this first week, it’s time for travelers to embark on their 7-day small-ship cruise of the Irrawaddy River. The RV Paukan will be home to 34 guests as they travel towards Mandalay, visiting remote villages and tourist-free markets, with plenty of walking tours and optional excursions—such as hot air ballooning—along the way. Cultural interactions won’t be missed, either, with a home-hosted dinner and a Burmese language lesson.

Departures for the 2013 Burma & the Irrawaddy River itinerary are available March-May and September-December. Rates start at $4,895 for the 16-day tour, which includes international air, airport transfers and additional government and airline taxes and fees. Or choose the 15-day cruise and hotel-only rate, starting at $3,795. Rates include all accommodations, 34 meals, 11 guided tours and welcome and farewell dinners and receptions. For more information, call (800) 248-3737 or visit gct.com.

Tibet & China
Through the partnership that bonds Victoria Cruises and Orient Flexi-Pax Tours comes the 15-night Tibet & Yangtze River itinerary, which marries a 3-night cruise aboard a five-star Victoria Cruises vessel with 12 days of tourism and deluxe accommodations spanning five cities.

Just a few highlights of the itinerary include an excursion to the Great Wall of China in Beijing; a tour of the Panda Breeding and Research Institute in Chengdu; a tour of the 1,300-year-old Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet—one of Tibet’s holiest shrines—plus visits to the summer and winter palaces of the Dalai Lama; a trip to see the Terra Cotta Army in Xi’an; and a stroll through the Yu Yuan Gardens and along The Bund waterfront promenade in Shanghai. All of these, of course, in addition to many more excursions, plus the nightly entertainment and activities available on board.

Departures continue to sail through November, with rates starting at $3,175 pp dbl. For more information, call (800) 545-5540 or visit orientflexipax.com.

Thailand, China & Vietnam with NPR
Any cruise through Asia is sure to be a learning experience, but Crown Cruise Vacations’ Beijing to Bangkok PTV at Sea itinerary is exceptionally so. The 16-night cruise will travel from March 16-April 1 aboard Regent’s Seven Seas Voyager along with a selection of well-known National Public Radio personalities, including Michelle Norris, host of NPR’s All Things Considered; Frank Langfitt, NPR’s Shanghai correspondent; Madhulika Sikka, executive producer of NPR’s Morning Edition; and Louisa Lim, NPR foreign correspondent based in Beijing, China.

During the cruise, voyagers will have the opportunity to chat with various NPR journalists and featured guests at panel discussions, presentations, Q&A sessions, dinners and cocktail receptions. Speakers will cover topics such as politics, culture, personal finance and health and wellness, while ports of call will include Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen, Hong Kong, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok.

Rates start at $12,311 pp dbl, inclusive of roundtrip airfare, free unlimited shore excursions, beverages including fine wines and premium spirits and prepaid gratuities. For more information, call (855) 788-7880 or visit crowncruisevacations.com.