Cruise to Phuket, Thailand — The Pearl of the Andaman

Whether your goal is to cruise the whole wide world with Holland America Line or to have a beautiful beach vacation, Thailand should be on your travel list!

When you cruise to Thailand be prepared for paradise. And Phuket, called the “pearl of the Andaman” is Thailand’s crown jewel and one of Asia’s most popular beach destinations. Enjoy the day relaxing on the world-famous Patong Beach, taking advantage of the crystal waters for a dive, or head into the surrounding hills for an eco-tour.

Foodies will delight in the traditional Thai flavors, among the most balanced of any cuisine. You’ll see how the flavors are informed by the colors and climate of the islands. Do not miss an opportunity to taste some local curries or pad thai! Holland America Line offers a Thai Cooking Class excursion that is a fantastic opportunity to take some new skills home as a souvenir.

Beautiful Phuket, photographed by Joanne Gardner.

Beautiful Phuket, photographed by Joanne Gardner.

One of the most popular shore excursions in Phuket is the Siam Elephant Safari. This tour takes you by motor coach into the Chalong Highlands for panoramic views over Phuket island before visiting the elephant camp site. There you’ll get up close in personal with these gorgeous creatures learning about their lives and the conservation projects in place to protect them and their environment. The tour culminates with an elephant ride through the countryside. By the end of the tour you’ll feel like an elephant yourself — in the sense that you’ll never forget the time spent in the highlands outside Phuket!

Amsterdam’s Future Cruise Consultant Joanne Gardner recently took this tour when she was at Phuket, and she shared this about her experience:

“Today was elephant riding day and we were all very excited. Siam Elephant Park was a delightful surprise in how well it was laid out and run. We learned about Thai cooking, Thai tea and coffee, using a water buffalo in the rice paddy, how to shred a coconut and what to do with all of the parts, watched how they trained the young elephants and then had our ride through the jungle. Such a fun day and we all have a photo on an elephant to prove it. – Joanne

Elephant riding in Phuket. Photos by Joanne Gardner.

Elephant riding in Phuket. Photos by Joanne Gardner.

Other guests choose to explore the port on their own. Just minutes from the tender dock is beautiful Patong Beach, a popular destination with the motto ‘mai pen rai,’ or ‘don’t worry, be happy!’ Patong Beach is an exciting resort community with plenty of shopping and dining. Take a stroll through the shops or pull up a beach chair and enjoy the powder-white sand beaches. Either way you’ll be sure to have a fabulous afternoon.

Jan and Dick Yetke have cruised to Phuket with Holland America Line before, so on their most recent trip they decided to take in the port by foot and tuk tuk.

Photos of Patong Beach courtesy of  Jan and Dick Yetke.

Photos of Patong Beach courtesy of Jan and Dick Yetke.

The tender dock is a floating dock that ends with a ramp that leads onto the beach. We walked up to the road and got a taxi into town – Patong Beach. Got out kind of in the middle of all the activity there.  There are big shopping malls there too but they are a few blocks off the waterfront. After that, we continued our walk along the coast road. Every couple stores there was a massage place. Amazing!!! We walked about half way back to the ship and then opted for a tuk-tuk type taxi vehicle which is a very cheap mode of transportation. There were a couple vendor tables on the sand just before the dock ramp and I had some Bhat (local money) left which I was able to spend. 
Some of our ship friends took an elephant ride tour which they enjoyed. We have done that years ago.  But other friends went on a tiger experience and I would have loved that. They actually got to pet the tigers! I will look into it for next year. They said it was great! — Jan and Dick

"James Bond Island" is a distinct feature of Phang Nga Bay.

“James Bond Island” is a distinct feature of Phang Nga Bay.

If you’ve been to Phuket before and want to experience something different, Phang Nga Bay is an iconic feature of Thailand. There you’ll see dramatic limestone outcroppings in contrast to the cool blue waters. You may recognize “James Bond Island,” a hallmark of the bay and film location for 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun. A cruise around the region in a traditional Thai boat is a great way to take it all in.

HAL features a number of itineraries that stop in Phuket with varying lengths and destination. From the 14-day Asia Adventure Holiday or the 90-day Passage to the Far East, there are plenty of options to explore Thailand’s largest island.

You can reserve your spot on any of the tours mentioned by pre-booking your them online.

What’s the first thing you would want to do after stepping off the tender at Phuket? Let us know in the comments below!


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