Cruise Critic contributor Gayle Keck recently sailed aboard Zaandam’s 14-day Asia Explorer Voyage. Below is an excerpt from her article.
“This cruise is like dim sum,” a fellow passenger on HAL’s Zaandam tells me. “I get to sample lots of places, to see where I’d like to come back for a longer stay.” That’s true for many cruisers, of course, particularly where exotic itineraries like this one are concerned. For others, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, with little possibility of a return trip. In my case, it’s just the opposite. I’ve been to all five countries where the Zaandam is putting in — but never by ship. For me, this is a 14-day “greatest hits” voyage, a review without a test (yes!), a chance to see these destinations from a completely different perspective, approaching them by sea.
The cruise departs from Singapore and heads up into the Gulf of Thailand, calling on the island of Koh Samui and Laem Chebang (near Bangkok), then down to Cambodia’s only deep-water port, Sihanoukville. From there, we’ll travel around the southerly tip of Vietnam and up into the China Sea, with stops near Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Nha Trang. We’ll take a little detour to call on Sanya, on China’s Hainan Island. Finally, we’ll visit Halong Bay, which is also the closest port to Hanoi, before the cruise ends in Hong Kong. For the 2013 cruise season, Volendam, the same class of ship as Zaandam, will sail a similar itinerary. Sanya, China, has been replaced by Da Nang, Vietnam.
For me and many of my shipmates, the cruise’s appeal is the mix of world-class cities and lower-key beach ports on the itinerary, as well as the chance to visit so many countries without bouncing back and forth from a major airline hub like Bangkok. And, let’s be honest: the chance to eat lots of local Asian food was a big part of my saying yes to this Far East adventure.
To read the full article click, HERE.