From the Antarctic to the waterways of Indonesia, these cruises show that travel is more than simply the end destination.
Exploring a new place in depth – really getting to know all of its quirks and charms – is one of our favourite aspects of travel. But sometimes going on a journey that takes us through a variety of places, giving us a fleeting taste of each, is an even better introduction to an unfamiliar country. And what better way to do so along a picturesque river or across the ocean? Here are four cruises we can’t wait to put on our calendars:
Aqua Mekong’s design is decidedly sleek and modern, featuring all the clean lines of a contemporary Southeast Asian home on land. All 62.5 metres of the Aqua Mekong were designed meticulously by Noor Design, an architectural firm based in Saigon. Jam-packed daytime schedules include daily excursions into nearby towns for an up-close-and-personal taste of local culture. One will find all sorts of points of interest, including a local market tour in Sa Dec, temple and house visits, and 16km village bike rides on the itinerary. Meals are prepared by a talented staff who whip up delectable dishes from a menu created by chef David Thompson of Michelin-starred Thai restaurant Nahm.
Sailing through the East Indonesian seas, Komodo National Park and the Raja Ampat region, Alila Purnama (which translates to the “Full Moon”) is a luxurious 46-metre phinisi vessel that accommodates up to 10 guests for an exclusive, intimate experience. Reflecting Alila’s commitment to sustainability, the vessel’s furniture is created entirely from teak, rattan and other locally sourced materials. It’s also completely custom-made and oozing with style. Book the master suite, which boasts 180-degree views of the water and the landscape beyond.
Exactly a year ago, I visited Myanmar and was smitten – walking through Yangon's charming streets and cycling through Bagan's living history made it so memorable. For my next trip, I'd like to try Belmond's Road to Mandalay cruise, which starts from Bagan and sails along the Ayeyarwady River to Mandalay. It's a journey Belmond pioneered back in 1996 (celebrating its 20th anniversary this year) that remains as timeless – and mystical – as ever.
This luxury cruise – a custom-built, 52-metre long traditional phinisi sailing vessel – accommodates up to 10 guests. Five exquisitely designed cabins are created for ultimate comfort – take the Master Cabin on the private deck for example: a cocooning space that boasts a king-size bed and windows offering a sweeping, picturesque sea view. Stay tuned for its upcoming Voyage to the Spice Islands expedition that will take off from October 21 to 31 this year, taking travellers through the Spice Islands and Raja Ampat, a region famed for its biodiversity.