Asia Cruises on the Move

J.L. Erickson With growing interest in Asia adventure travel, Princess Cruises has begun North American marketing for a full season of Southeast Asia cruises aboard the 1,200-passenger Pacific Sky, operated by sister company P&O Cruises Australia. Offering February through November 2006 sailings,

By: J.L. Erickson

With growing interest in Asia adventure travel, Princess Cruises has begun North American marketing for a full season of Southeast Asia cruises aboard the 1,200-passenger Pacific Sky, operated by sister company P&O Cruises Australia.

Offering February through November 2006 sailings, the tours feature a casual-style cruise experience that take passengers to ports on both sides of the Malay Peninsula.

The season offers 38 seven-day departures or 37 sailings on a 14-day itinerary with two seven-day Southeast Asia itineraries sailing roundtrip from Singapore and alternating itineraries that can be combined for a 14-day exploration of the Malay Peninsula that calls at nine ports in Malaysia and Thailand.

“We know there is growing interest in North America to visit Asia and we think the Pacific Sky itineraries will offer passengers a great way to explore some of the best of Southeast Asia's resort areas, in a relaxed and fun-filled cruising environment with Australian flair,” said Jan Swartz, Princess’ senior vice president of customer service and sales.

The Eastern Sunsets route will visit the tropical island of Ko Samui, tranquil Kuantan with picturesque fishing villages, and includes an overnight stay in Bangkok. The Western Tropics itinerary features historic Melaka, Malaysia's bustling capital of Kuala Lumpur, the island of Langkawi with hidden coves and deserted beaches, Asia’s most popular holiday resort Phuket, and the colonial outpost of Penang.

The Pacific Sky dining and entertainment options include two main dining rooms, a 600-seat Broadway-style show lounge, nine bars, and a deckside nightclub. Additional dining options include a 24-hour pizzeria and ice cream parlor, lunchtime hamburger, hot dog and pasta bar on deck, plus steaks and snacks at the outdoor grill. The ship’s children’s activity center offers a youth program, a cinema screening recent release movies, two large outdoor swimming pools plus a special pool for children, a health center and spa, fitness center and outdoor jogging track, Internet facilities and a library.

Currency used onboard will be in Australian dollars, with early booking fares beginning at $1,995 for seven-day sailings and $2,690 for 14-day cruises and includes airfare from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver or Honolulu.

Victoria Cruises also is beefing up its offerings in Asia on its Yangtze River cruises, hiring Concepts By Staib Ltd., run by internationally acclaimed chef Walter Staib, to expand its menus for its 2006 sailing season with more Western-style specialties to further appeal to the Western travelers.

Currently, Victoria’s dining menus feature authentic Chinese cuisine with a mix of popular Western dishes served buffet-style for breakfast and lunch and banquet-style for dinner. Concepts by Staib will present a series of Western dishes that complement the existing Chinese food.

“With the upgrading of our fleet’s physical product and enhancing our shore excursions over the past few years, we knew expanding our menu of excellent cuisine to include more Western-style selections was the next natural step to advancing our overall cruise offerings and remaining competitive,” said Benson Wu, vice president of Victoria Cruises.

The new dining specialties that cruisers in 2006 will be able to enjoy will be taken from a selection of dishes that include tomato and basil salad, chicken tenderloin-wrapped shrimp, herb-roasted chicken, roast duck with honey glaze, roast beef with herbed crepes, ravioli Marinara and desserts from apple cake to sticky buns.

The move comes as Victoria Cruises is set to welcome the Victoria Anna to its lineup in April 2006, the largest ship in the company’s fleet boasting the highest passenger capacity and the most suites of all vessels on the Yangtze.

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