With less than three weeks to go until the silly season kicks off, many of us are wondering what to plan for the Christmas break. As an alternative to your stereotypical villa or hotel-style retreat, why not consider a holiday on the water? Though it’s possible to cast off from Hong Kong and Macau, your best best is to jump on a short flight to be transported to the pristine waters found in South East Asia. Popular cruising destinations include Phuket, Indonesia, Myanmar and Cambodian waters (just to name a few!). Below are several yacht charter and cruise escape options that are sure to provide you and your family with a week to remember.
Private yacht charter or luxury cruise?
Generally speaking, a luxury yacht charter is more suited for larger groups, as the hire cost is much higher than a room on a cruise ship. It does, however, provide you with more flexibility than a cruise, as it offers a more tailored approach to your dream trip. From the meals on board to the island destinations you visit and the activities you partake in, the entire itinerary is to your discretion and able to be altered at any given time. There is an array of choices from sailing to super yachts, to suit your requirements, and most charter yachts come with an all included and trained crew.
If there’s just two or three of you travelling, a cruise is likely to be the more affordable option. Unlike private charters, most luxury cruise holidays come with a team of trained crew and a destination itinerary in place, so you can just relax and enjoy the journey. The boats are often larger too, so though you’ll be sharing with a small number of other guests, there’s more to do on-board and a scheduled list of optional daily activities, such as island tours, snorkelling and scuba diving.
Aqua Mekong Cruises
The Aqua Mekong has been around since 2007 and began as a luxury cruise experience designed to explore the Amazon River. It has since grown to service South East Asia with 3, 5 or 7 day cruises starting at the Tibetan Plateau, flowing through Cambodia and Vietnam and finishing in the South China Sea.
This leisurely luxury river escape offers guests five-star hotel-style accommodation, a comprehensive and exclusive Southeast Asian on-board dining experience and connects guests with the day-to-day Vietnamese way of life – including an afternoon spent grazing with Buddhist monks and local farmers. Stepping off the cruise is of course optional but most guests who book this holiday opt to absorb the land side culture, too.
Taking guests on a voyage of discovery around breathtaking Indonesian islands, the Alila Purnama offers five well-appointed five-star double suits, yet still manages to maintain its voyage-like ship appearance, with custom teak decking and polished timber finishes. The luxury liner transports guests through undiscovered waters, anchoring at Raja Amat and Komodo Islands, providing the option of hopping on or off at your leisure to scuba dive, snorkel and enjoy some of the world’s most pristine marine life in a subtropical climate. A floating subsidiary of the Alila Hotel Group, the Alila Purnama comes with all the mod cons for the modern luxe traveller.
Step aboard the Belmond Orcaella, an intimate cruiser that glides between Myanmar’s two main rivers: the Chindwin and Ayeyarwady, over 8, 9, 11 or 12 night tours. With 25 well-appointed and private cabins, this ship combines on-board pleasure with land-side excursions and events. Get in touch with the locals by joining in on villager ceremonies, visits to local schools and intimate food tastings. If you’re tired and crave the need for some rest and relaxation, stay put in your floor-to-ceiling juliet balcony room and soak up the river views with cocktail in hand! A variety of spa and relaxation treatments are also available on board, and attending scheduled activities is not mandatory.
Northrop & Johnson
Northrop & Johnson (N&J) has a portfolio of more than 5,500 vessels on its books, based across the globe. They also sell yachts, too, if you’re feeling particularly flush. A variety of both motor yachts and sail boats are on offer, ranging from 50ft to 300 ft, to suit your number of guests and, of course, your budget. Its team of advisers in Hong Kong can provide you with advice on a variety of charter aspects, include on-board catering, itinerary planning, crew selection and a breakdown of suggested recreational activities during your time on-board.
If you’re a little pressed for time, and don’t quite have that spare week to jet away, then consider Riviera Orientale – a local based yacht charter provider that transports you from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong Island to the tranquil ones that surround it! Ranging in length from 40ft to 100 ft, the company offers daily (half or full day) and weekend charter options, and boasts a portfolio of crewed yachts ready to go! It also offers a variety of luxury concierge services to support your pre and post boarding requirements, including private airport transfers and day spa treatments.
By Noelle Walker.