Maiden Calls

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is a floating temple on Bratan lake in Bali. This Hindu-Buddhist complex is a must-see for heritage-loving cruisers visiting the port of Celukan Bawang.
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is a floating temple on Bratan lake in Bali. This Hindu-Buddhist complex is a must-see for heritage-loving cruisers visiting the port of Celukan Bawang.

For Wine Enthusiasts — Nelson, New Zealand: Viniculture enthusiasts have a new port experience ashore in Nelson along the northern end of New Zealand’s South Island. This port is a maiden call (within Silversea Cruises’ traditional fleet) on Silver Whisper’s 2017 World Cruise, departing January 6, 2017, from San Francisco to Monte Carlo. Top digs? For many, they’re the two spacious Owner’s Suites on Deck 7, which have private butlers and a slew of other perks. Separately, Silversea’s expedition ship, Silver Discoverer, also calls at Nelson on January 17, 2016.

The Crystal Penthouse on Crystal Symphony is spread over 982 square feet and offers a spacious living area.
The Crystal Penthouse on Crystal Symphony is spread over 982 square feet and offers a spacious living area.

In a flexible, new approach, Crystal Cruises will sail four 2018 World Cruise itineraries. Guests select either Crystal Symphony or Crystal Serenity for the full voyage or split their time between the two ships. Nelson is a maiden port for “World Cruise 1: Stunning Skies & Halcyon Harbors,” operated by Crystal Symphony from Cape Town to Miami on January 7. Luxury cruisers seeking the best will opt for the 982-square-foot Crystal Penthouse with Verandah (Category CP) accommodations, 1022 or 1023 on Deck 10; these suites have a spacious living area and separate dining area. The master bath boasts an ocean view, whirlpool tub, separate shower and marble floors.

So what’s special about Nelson? With sunny days and cool nights, this region is awash with vineyards. Neudorf Vineyards is famed for its chardonnay, but it also produces fine Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc vintages. At the family-owned Moutere Hills Vineyard & Café, cruisers might linger and order a wine platter with deli meats, artisan baked breads, seasonal fruit and cheeses. Alternatively, we suggest ordering Chef John McFeat’s signature Cajun-blackened king prawns with tomato salsa, fried spicy potatoes and garlic aioli.

Free Luxury Travel Newsletter

Like this story? Subscribe to The Dossier

Luxury Travel Advisor’s only newsletter, covering unique destinations and product news for affluent travelers. Delivered every Tuesday & Thursday.

The Nelson area’s largest wine producer is the Seifried Estate. Four vintages — Aotea by Seifried Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Seifried Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Old Coach Road Nelson Sauvignon 2015 and Seifried Winemakers Collection Nelson Sweet Agnes Riesling 2015 — all earned gold medals at this year’s Berliner Wein Trophy in Germany. The estate’s Petite Fleur Vineyard Restaurant is owned by German-born Chef Horst Wellmeyer and his partner Justine Robertson from New Zealand. Have a small group? If Petite Fleur is notified in advance, it can arrange a special tasting platter to accompany the estate’s wines.

Besides a “blackboard” menu, Petite Fleur has some savory themed “platters.” For example, the German platter offers pan-fried pork belly, bratwurst, chorizo and herb sausages served with spaetzle and condiments, while the French platter has cheese choux pastry, chicken liver pâté with a fig glaze and gingerbread, traditional Marseille-style seafood soup and a home-made French crêpe with mushrooms and ham.

For Scuba Divers — Gizo, Solomon Islands: Gizo, a port destination on Ghizo Island (the two are pronounced the same but spelled differently), is a maiden call on Crystal Symphony’s 129-day World Cruise 3, “Storied Treasures and Captivating Journeys,” departing from Cape Town, South Africa, to Rome on January 7, 2018. Going ashore at Gizo, American guests will likely be interested in the area’s World War II history. Near here, PT-109, the U.S. patrol torpedo boat captained by the future President John F. Kennedy, sank in World War II after being split in half by a Japanese destroyer; Kennedy heroically saved most of his crew, and they were eventually rescued.

A few parts of the ship were pinpointed in 2002 by explorer Robert Ballard, famed for his discovery of Titanic. While those few remains are too deep for recreational diving, the Gizo area has a good mix of other, more accessible World War II-era dive treasures, including American Corsair and Hellcat fighter aircraft and the large Japanese transport ship Toa Maru. The region’s coral reefs also boast high fish counts, so cruisers can expect to see a good array and quantity of marine life.

In and around Toa Maru, just a 20-minute boat ride from Gizo, divers will see a coral garden, marine life, including turtles and rays, and artifacts from the sunken vessel, including saki bottles, medical supplies, office equipment, a motorbike and a tank. Experienced divers can opt to explore some of the ship’s rooms including the workshop, dining room and crew quarters, although divers enter at their own risk.

During a full-day Gizo port call, divers can book a morning dive, then have lunch on a secluded beach prior to a second, afternoon dive. Kennedy Island (also called Kosolo or Plum Pudding Island) attracts both snorkelers and novice divers who train here; shallow reefs occupy one side of the isle, drift diving is possible on the other side.

Cruisers not into water activities might, alternatively, book a World War II or birding tour. In Gizo itself, shoppers will find small shops and an open-air market. Local crafts to buy include woven bags, mats and baskets, as well as wood and stone carvings. For a great selfie, cruisers might pose with the sign at PT-109, a casual bar and restaurant serving beer, crayfish and grilled lobsters.

The Jagalchi Fish Market in Busan, South Korea, was set up by women fish mongers during the Korean War.
The Jagalchi Fish Market in Busan, South Korea, was set up by women fish mongers during the Korean War.

For “Local Color” Markets — Busan, Korea: Busan, South Korea’s second largest city, once called Pusan, is a city of contrasts with ancient temples, skyscrapers and “local color” markets. In 2017, Busan will be a maiden call for Queen Mary 2’s 132-night World Cruise, sailing roundtrip from New York City, or alternatively, 118 nights roundtrip from Southampton or 108 nights from Cape Town to New York. This Cunard Line flagship will visit 40 ports in 23 countries with the chance for luxury cruisers to visit 33 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and enjoy nine maiden calls, including Busan.

This will be the ship’s first World Cruise voyage after a 25-day drydock refurbishment to add 15 more single staterooms, 30 more Britannia Club balcony staterooms and an expanded kennels area. Luxury cruisers who book Queens Grill category suites — ranging from 506 square feet to 2,249 square feet — can enjoy the exclusive Queens Grill restaurant. These suites also have a large sitting area, private balcony and butler service.

When guests visit Busan, we suggest they head straight for the bustling Jagalchi Market, established by women fish mongers during the Korean War. Today, it’s called “Aunt’s Market”and you’ll still hear and see vocal female merchants selling fresh eel, shellfish, flounder and exotic seaweed; the market also has many dried seafood items. One Busan thinly sliced raw fish specialty is “hoe” (pronounced “hweh”). Similar to Japanese sashimi, it’s typically eaten with Korean kimchi and a fermented spicy red pepper paste. If you see fresh fish or seafood you like, you can purchase it, and one of the on-site market eateries will cook it.

Another market not to be missed is the vast, meandering Gukje Market (International Market) with shops and stalls selling Korean and western apparel, gifts, electronics, handicrafts, kitchenware, fresh produce and much more. Despite myriad shops and narrow alleyways, Gukje is designed in a grid, and alleys readily identify their wares — such as art alley, shoe alley and bag alley. If you desire to browse even more shops, visit nearby Bupyeong Market.

For a cultural infusion, cruisers can take a tour of the ancient capital Gyeongju, home to the Bulguksa Temple complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located on Mount Tohamsan, it consists of stone bridges and staircases, as well as historic pagodas and rebuilt wooden structures.

Heritage Buffs — Celukan Bawang, Bali, Indonesia: Along Bali’s northern coast, laid-back Celukan Bawang is a large cargo port. The plus is that this rather sleepy region lacks the hordes of visitors heading for southern Bali. This port is another maiden call on Silver Whisper’s 2017 World Cruise, plus Seabourn Cruise Line’s new Seabourn Encore will also call at this northern Bali port on its 60-day “Arabia, India & Asia Exploration” voyage departing Piraeus (Athens) Greece on December 4, 2016, and ending in Sydney, Australia; Verandah Suites (V5) were still available for booking at press time; they include a living area, queen-size bed or two twin beds, dining table for two, walk-in closet, interactive flat-screen TV, fully stocked bar and refrigerator, makeup vanity, and spacious bathroom with separate tub and shower.

A “must-see” for many heritage lovers is the extensive Hindu-Buddhist complex of Pura Ulun Danu Bratan at Lake Bratun. Shadowed by mountains, this floating water temple complex is simply breathtaking. For many, it provides the quintessential Balinese experience. Closer to Celukan Bawang is the neighboring city of Singaraja, which, simply put, looks quite different than other Balinese destinations. With a colonial-era feel, it has wide streets, traditional homes set in gardens and some Dutch-era architecture. If you’re visiting on a weekday, we’d suggest popping into Gedong Kirtya library where thousands of lontar — manuscripts made of palm leaf — are lovingly collected, copied and preserved.

Nearby, the Royal Palace of Singaraja (Puri Agung Buleleng) is open to visitors and still home to the former raja’s descendants. When it’s time for a casual lunch with Balinese and Indonesian cuisine, one option is Warung Bambu Pemaron in Lovina. Simple bamboo architecture nicely sets the mood. Why not try the Betutu-style steamed duck, lobster cooked in curry sauce (if available) or the traditional Indonesian rijstafel? The restaurant also will set up cooking classes with advance reservations.

For Scenic Beauty — Burnie, Tasmania: On the 114-day World Cruise of Crystal Symphony departing on January 7, 2018, cruisers will sail from Cape Town to Miami with several maiden calls, including Burnie. Among lines visiting in 2016 or 2017 are Seabourn Cruise Line’s Seabourn Odyssey, Silversea’s Silver Whisper, Regent Seven Seas’ Seven Seas Voyager, The World (a condo ship with luxury rentals), Holland America Line’s Noordam and Maasdam and Princess Cruises’ Sun Princess.

The Cradle Mountain Huts Overland Track Walk helps cruisers discover Tasmania’s World Heritage-listed Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
The Cradle Mountain Huts Overland Track Walk helps cruisers discover Tasmania’s World Heritage-listed Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.

Top eco-site is the wild, rugged Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with glacier lakes, mountains, alpine grasses and a rainforest. Many cruisers visit Dove Lake on tours or opt for a guided hike along Cradle Mountain’s walking “tracks.” Keep your eyes peeled for such birds as the Tasmanian thornbill, scarlet robin and the white-bellied sea eagle. Many cruisers might be curious to see a Tasmanian devil, a carnivorous marsupial that’s the size of a small dog. While devils do inhabit the park, they’re nocturnal. So you might visit Wing’s Wildlife Park to see them and other rescued Australian wildlife, including wombats and kangaroos.

Another fun, eco-activity is Stanley’s famous Circular Head or the “Nut,” a soaring, volcanic formation. Travelers may walk up the steep pathway or board the Nut Chairlift for a five-minute ride to the top. Once there, the reward is panoramic views of Bass Strait and Rocky Cape National Park.

Scenic beauty aside, Burnie is renowned for its skilled craftspeople, farmers, cheesemakers, whiskey distillers and millworkers. Visitors can delve into the region’s strong craft and trade traditions at the “Makers Center” within Burnie’s visitor center; taste artisan cheeses at the center’s Cheese Shop; sample single malt liquor at a local distillery; or learn how natural substances (like apple pulp or rainforest leaves) are used at Creative Paper, Australia’s largest hand-made paper mill.

Closer to Home

Not all maiden calls for World Cruises are in exotic locales. One in North America is Sept-Ils in the Côte-Nord region of Quebec. Translated “Seven Islands,” it’s nestled along the northern shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Oceania Cruises’ Insignia will make a maiden call at this destination during its 180-day World Cruise departing roundtrip from Miami, FL, on January 6, 2017. While ashore, cruisers might visit the Sept-Ils’ historic district and Musée Régional de la Cote-Nord; tour Aluminerie Alouette, an aluminum smelter; or ride on the scenic Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway.

This new World Cruise route for Oceania heads from the Caribbean and Pacific Riviera to the South Pacific, Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to Canada and New England. We like the aft-facing Owner’s Suites on Decks 6, 7 or 8 with nearly 1,000 square feet of space and private butler service. Among the exclusive World Cruise shore experiences are a Polynesian Lagoon Luncheon, dinner in the sky on the Singapore Flyer and an evening at the Seville Fair.

Suggested Articles:

Small-yacht expedition company Kontiki Expeditions has announced its two launch itineraries along Ecuador’s coast. Here's what guests can expect.

In the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, Rue Cler feels like village Paris, lined with shops selling various foods that spill out into the street.

The Seychelles will begin welcoming visitors from across the globe, irrespective of their vaccination status, March 25, 2021. Learn more here.