As a feature writer for Porthole Cruise Magazine, I spent a great deal of 2018 at sea. While mainstream cruising is covered in great detail by writers from all backgrounds, it’s been my mission to seek out off-the-radar cruise itineraries that go virtually unnoticed. Here’s a synopsis of year-end reflections with all eyes pointing to an even more adventurous 2019.
The end of 2017 saw us exploring South America with National Geographic in the Galápagos Islands, followed by an Amazon adventure on Aqua Expeditions. To cap that trip off we ventured into Antarctica on Hurtigruten’s Midnatsol. At the time, it felt like these would be the trips of a lifetime, but 2018 proved to be even better.
RELATED: Chills and Thrills with Hurtigruten
In March of 2018, a marathon flight to Hong Kong initiated a journey into Far East exploration. Boarding the Star Legend for an extended voyage introduced us to the upscale cruise style of Windstar Cruises. While larger ships tend to offer a plethora of activities and entertainment, it’s been our preference to indulge in more personalized experiences on smaller, more intimate ships. This itinerary led to first-time visits to Taiwan and lesser-known ports of call in China, as well as Beijing and Shanghai.
The Great Wall of China provided exceptional, cinematic visuals and was followed by a rail journey on the high-speed train to Xi’an. It would be unthinkable to travel all this way without witnessing the city’s immense display of unearthed terracotta soldiers. Boarding Century Cruises’ Paragon in Chongqing provided the opportunity of cruising the iconic Yangzi River.
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The summer was even more complex as a trans-continent itinerary saw us traveling to Indonesia. Authentic sailing on a traditional 24-passenger wooden phinisi with SeaTrek Adventures and an encore trip with Star Clippers gave us wind-driven opportunities to savor the spirit of Indonesian exoticism. A 4-day post-cruise stay at the gorgeous AYANA Resort and Spa and then transitioning to Bangkok’s Pullman Hotel G was perfectly positioned before a return to Switzerland for a cruise on the Rhine River with AmaWaterways. The summer’s finale came as Hurtigruten’s Fram became home for 14 days of remote exploration of the western coast of Greenland, reaching the northernmost outposts of the country.
The year’s fall expedition saw a repeat visit to Dubai for a nostalgic, pre-cruise stay at the QE2 Hotel before boarding the Azamara Quest for a seven-day cruise of the United Arab Emirates.
With Southeast Asia becoming our default destination, a stay at the contemporary X2 Chiang Mai River Resort in Thailand served as our embarkation point for a cruise down the Mekong in Laos aboard the brand new Sabaidee Pandaw. Prior to boarding the Silversea Shadow for 14 days of upscale bliss, the Sanchaya Hotel on Bintan Island, Indonesia, was a perfect escape from the kinetic streets of Singapore.
End of Year Festivities
With dreams of reclaiming our youth and a millennial lifestyle, we finished the year by sailing on a Christmas Market Cruise from Budapest with U By Uniworld on their new brainchild vessel The A. It’s a twist on river cruising geared for the younger demographic.
What a fabulous year 2018 has been and I hope your cruise experiences were as enjoyable as ours. The challenge has been laid out for exciting narrative … and Porthole will be featuring these adventures in upcoming issues. Make it your New Year’s resolution to subscribe now and even better, start planning your personal cruise experiences today.