Singapore may be one of the busiest ports in the world, but barring the island-hopping across places like Ubin and Kusu, sailing beyond day trips is quite understated among local travellers. But there’s something about being out there in the big blue, and making the journey the experience itself.
Cruise holidays once had a reputation for casinos and retiree clientele, but they’re quickly starting to grow on young travellers on the lookout for novelty. Now, what’s there to do onboard that fascinates them so? How far out from Singapore can you venture? How long does it take? Are there special arrangements, like special travel insurance for a cruise, that have to be made before departure?
This article will tell you all that, and why your next vacation should be a cruise holiday.
Cruise routes from Singapore
There are several cruise operators that depart from Marina Bay Cruise Centre and Singapore Cruise Centre. Aside from mainstream brands like Royal Caribbean, Star Cruises and Princess Cruises, the likes of Seabourn and Silversea are upmarket options that offer a more luxurious experience.
Depending on the ports of call, cruise holidays can span from three to 50 nights. The Singapore-Malaysia route that stops over at Penang takes three nights, and is popular among time-strapped travellers. But if you would like to explore Southeast Asia like a true nomad, an 11-night itinerary can easily cover Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.
Beyond Southeast Asia, cruises that go to Hong Kong, Korea (Busan) and Japan (Nagasaki) take around 15 nights on average. But if you’re not interested in heading north, those two weeks might be better spent en route to India, Sri Lanka, and even Dubai!
Now venturing beyond Asia by cruise isn’t the most efficient use of annual leave, but for those in between jobs with plenty of time to spare, a 36-night cruise to Cape Town in Africa might just be the ultimate chill holiday. Alternatively, you could spend that time on a Pacific route towards Fiji and Auckland, or spend months journeying to the likes of Greece and Barcelona.
The perks of a cruise holiday
1. You won’t have to plan a single thing
Vacations are fun, but planning them isn’t easy. From picking a hotel in a prime location to mapping out all the attractions and purchasing bus/train tickets so you won’t get stranded overseas, it can be a logistical nightmare that fills your browser with Google Maps tabs, and email inbox with booking confirmations.
Enter cruise holidays – where a single booking unlocks a plethora of recreational activities you can navigate within the ship’s confines. We’re talking mini golf courses, rock walls, ice skating rinks and even a surf simulator. And when you’re done working up an appetite, the F&B options are varied enough for a different dinner menu every night. And of course, there are the entertainment shows and large swimming pools.
Everything onboard a cruise is a curation to bombard you with choices. If it’s an impromptu getaway, you wouldn’t even have to lift a finger to plan anything!
2. You’ll get to explore multiple cities with ease
Can’t decide if you should go to Japan or Korea? Now you can do both and even pop by Taiwan while at it. Depending on your itinerary and its ports of call, you could very well be city-hopping across a continent or region. You could be soaking up the Sakura season in Japan today, and having a street food feast at Myeongdong two days later.
More importantly, cruise holidays also do away with the cumbersome procedures of crossing borders and transferring from one hotel to another. This means no long queues at airport customs, or waiting around for transfers and sticky check-in/out timings. No packing and unpacking whenever you reach a new hotel – your cruise ship is your hop on/off transport and your base camp.
3. It’s perfect for different travelling styles
It takes a herculean effort to craft an itinerary for different travelling styles. Sometimes people wind up going their own ways, and not bonding much by the end of the day. Other times, unproductive time spent waiting around for one another leaves people dissatisfied. There may not be a perfect solution, but cruise holidays come pretty close.
One can spend some me-time poring over a book at the cabin balcony, while others can hit up the bar to socialise with fellow travellers. There are duty-free stores for shopaholics, and rock walls for the adrenaline junkies. With water parks, spa treatments and mid-day performances, all generations at a family getaway will be well-occupied, before coming together for a nice dinner and movie under the stars before the day ends.
4. There are themed experiences for all ages
Shake your experience up entirely by embarking on a themed cruise. For families, the Cartoon Network cruise comes with Powerpuff Girls and We Bare Bears-themed rooms, and even a Johnny Bravo burger joint that will let you relive your childhood from the 90s. Alternatively, the Carnival Spirit boasts a full-fledged waterpark with enough rides to leave you sunkissed by the time you arrive at your destination in Sydney.
Experiential cruises are also becoming a big hit among young adults, with a 4-day dance music festival happening on It’s The Ship every year. Meanwhile, foodies will find their calling to be the Silversea Culinary Cruise, a 14-day gastronomical adventure that will take your tastebuds through the food and wines of every port of call.
Sail the seas
Finding yourself in the middle of the ocean, with no land in sight or address to call home, is a refreshing change of view from the usual skyscrapers and crowds. While there’s wifi onboard, the inevitably slow service can be treated as a “mandated” detox from technology. After all, you’ve got better things to do, like digging into buffet spreads and ziplining from one end of the ship to another.
But don’t forget your usual precautions on holiday in the comforts of your cruise ship either. Since most of the exciting activities are outdoors, be sure to purchase your travel insurance before you board the ship. Besides, there’s no excuse to forget it when it’s one of the few arrangements you need to make!