Luxury Cruise Lines Set Sights on Pacific Journeys

Looking ahead to 2024, 2025 and 2026, luxury cruise lines are seeing strong traveler interest in far-flung destinations across the globe. So, they’re unveiling new voyages within the Pacific Ocean and Asia regions. Guests have new options for exploring Australia, Fiji, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Tahiti and beyond.

Around Japan

Creating much marketplace “buzz” this summer is Silversea Cruises’ new 728-passenger Silver Nova, with a sister Nova-class ship, Silver Ray, launching in 2024. Among Silver Nova’s line-up of voyages is a 14-day Japan circumnavigation, departing October 1, 2024. The ultra-luxury ship will sail roundtrip from Tokyo with calls at Osaka, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Kanazawa, Aomori and Hakodate, all in Japan, as well as Busan, South Korea.

But while the voyage is appealing, Silver Nova is even more so. Sporting extensive expanses of glass—40 percent of the ship’s total exterior—this snazzy ultra-luxury ship offers a light, airy and open interior. Most notable is its innovative, asymmetrical design. That’s most noticeable in Deck 10’s spectacular open-air pool area. Positioned along the starboard side, not in the deck’s center as on most cruise ships, the pool offers “close-up” ocean and destination views. Also, one deck up on the port side of Deck 11 is an infinity Cliffside Whirlpool, also offering incredible, close-to-the-water views. Guests can relax in comfortable loungers on both decks, while friendly servers circulate to take drink orders.

Silver Nova has 13 suite categories. Shown here is the Junior Grand Suite, which has a veranda with patio furniture and floor-to-ceiling glass doors. (Silversea)

Despite carrying 132 guests than Muse-class ships, Silver Nova’s guest-to-space ratio is also the highest in Silversea’s fleet. As we observed on our nearly full sailing last month, most cruise guests don’t “feel” the higher guest count. In fact, the ship never felt crowded. Many public spaces have been redesigned and enlarged (such as S.A.L.T. Bar and S.A.L.T. Lab, the latter with a new outdoor space). Plus, many public spaces have higher ceilings and natural light streaming in via windows; that’s the case for the ship’s theater, the enlarged S.A.L.T. Bar, and the line’s first-ever, three-deck atrium.

Luxury travelers can choose from among 13 suite categories, seven new to Silver Nova. We’d go for the best of the best—the 1,324-square-foot Otium Suite, nestled into a premium aft corner position. Enjoying 270-degree ocean views, guests can relax in a private whirlpool on the 431-square-foot balcony. Inside is a spacious living room area, separate large bedroom, master bathroom with a whirlpool and a walk-in shower, and more.

Silver Nova
Silver Nova's aft suites deliver 270-degree views. (Silversea)

The Spice Isles

Adventurous guests joining Scenic’s new 15-day “Secrets of Indonesia: Spice Islands & Raja Ampat” itinerary will sail on the new, 228-passenger Scenic Eclipse II, the ultra-luxury line’s second Discovery Yacht. Sailing roundtrip from Darwin in western Australia on October 11, 2025, the ship will explore Indonesia’s “Spice Islands,” home to nutmeg, mace, pepper and cloves, and also some of the most pristine reefs in the world—including the coral reefs of Raja Ampat.

During this Pacific journey, Scenic Eclipse II will call at such exotic destinations as the Banda Islands and Ambon, Maluku Islands, both in Indonesia, plus many others. Mountainous Kota Ambon is the sleek, stylish and most populous isle of the Maluka archipelago. Since the 14th century, it’s attracted Dutch and Portuguese explorers, seafaring merchants and spice traders. Travelers heading ashore will find unique shops and trendy coffee houses such as Rumah Kopi Sibu Sibu. We’d savor the coffee and try the fried bananas.

Suite-wise, the ultimate indulgence is an oversized Owner’s Penthouse Suite on Deck 9. Guests will relax on a spacious, curved exterior terrace with sun loungers and a private whirlpool. Inside, the spacious living and dining area offers comfortable seating, surround sound, a 70-inch HDTV, and a multi-seat dining table. Plus, a butler will pamper guests. Within the master bedroom area is a reading alcove, desk and 60” HDTV, a Scenic Slumber bed and dual walk-in closets.

The master bathroom offers dual-vanity mist showers with color light therapy, a therapeutic spa bath, steam room, KLAFS infrared seats, and a spa day bed for in-suite spa treatments (one complimentary per guest). This suite also has a library; butler bar with Illy coffee and specialty teas; wine bar and minibar restocked daily; and guest powder room.

Owner’s Penthouse Suite guests also receive many other services, among them guaranteed specialty restaurant dining; guaranteed preferred choice of shore excursions including Scenic Discovery excursions (Zodiacs, kayaks and e-bikes); and VIP bookings for spa treatments and helicopter and submarine experiences (added charges apply).

Grand Asia

For the ultimate Asia/South Pacific adventure, ultra-luxury, all-inclusive Regent Seven Seas Cruises will operate a 61-night “Grand Asia Exploration,” from Auckland, New Zealand, to Tokyo, Japan, on January 12, 2026. This two-month journey of the 746-passenger Seven Seas Explorer should appeal strongly to both “die-hard port collectors” and travelers loving in-depth journeys. Guests will have a choice of 153 free shore excursions.

As for itinerary highlights, Seven Seas Explorer will spend nine nights exploring New Zealand, either on port calls or during scenic cruising of fjords. Then it will head for Australia, visiting Hobart and Burnie in Tasmania, overnighting in Melbourne (plus spending a third day in Melbourne on a second call), and visiting Sydney, Penneshaw (Kangaroo Island), Esperance, Perth and other “Down Under” ports.

Bali Handara Gates
In Bali, Indonesia, Seven Seas Explorer will call at two different ports, providing for maximum destination immersion. Shown here is the Handara Gate in Bali. (Courtesy Regent Seven Seas Cruises )

Heading northward, guests will explore multiple Asian destinations with overnights planned for Bangkok (Laem Chabang), Thailand; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Shanghai, China; and Osaka, Japan. Other port calls are in Singapore, Cambodia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, and South Korea. At the small island of Bali, Indonesia, Seven Seas Explorer will even call at two different ports, providing for maximum destination immersion.

For example, in Bali (Celukan Bawang), guests can head to Bali Barat National Park, home to coral reefs, mangrove forests and 160 species of birds, or alternatively admire the water temple of Pura Ulun Danu Batur along Lake Bratan. Or, in Singaraja, travelers might peruse Dutch colonial period architectural remnants and the Royal Palace of Singaraja, still the home of the last Raja of Buleleng’s descendants.

Currently, the ship’s opulent, 4,443-square-foot Regent Suite (RS), as well as the spacious Grand Suites (GS), are showing “waitlisted.” At press time, several high-end suite categories were still available to book, though, including the sumptuous Master Suite (MS), spanning 1,895 to 2,108 square feet of space, and the 814-square foot Seven Seas Suite (SS). Both have butler service.

Fujiyoshida, Japan
Seven Seas Explorer’s “Grand Asia Exploration” should appeal strongly to both “die-hard port collectors” and travelers loving in-depth journeys. Shown here is the city of Fujiyoshida in Japan. (Courtesy Regent Seven Seas Cruises )

Tahiti & Tuamotu

New for 2025, Paul Gauguin Cruises—which recently celebrated the 330-passenger Paul Gauguin’s 25-year history in Tahiti—will set sail with a new 10-night “More Tuamotus & Society Islands” itinerary roundtrip from Papeete, Tahiti. Guests who love overnights in port will find those in Papeete, Bora Bora and, for the first time, Fakarava, in the Pacific Ocean’s Tuamotu Archipelago, a UNESCO-listed Biosphere Reserve. Other ports of call include Moorea, Raiatea, Huahine, Motu Mahana (the line’s private islet experience), and Rangiroa.

During a Bora Bora overnight stay, we’d suggest guests desiring a top-notch dining experience make a reservation for dinner at the suspended, over-water Lagoon Restaurant by Jean-Georges Vongerichten at the St. Regis Bora Bora. Diners will have striking views of Mount Otemanu. For casual dining with the locals, one tasty option on Moorea is Fare Manuia (“The Lucky House”). Order a wood-fired pizza and Hinano, a blonde Pilsner beer brewed in Tahiti.

Newly revitalized, Paul Gauguin itself has 200-square-foot to 588-square-foot accommodations, nearly 70 percent with private balconies. Public spaces include a full-service spa, three restaurants, open decks for sunning, and a watersports marina. We’d opt to stay in No. 701, the 534-square-foot Owner’s Suite (OS) with private veranda, or the slightly larger No. 7002. Two spacious Grand Suites (GS) —the Paul Gauguin Suite, No. 801, and the Flora Tristan Suite, No. 802 — are also a good option. All these top suites have butler service and can accommodate up to three guests.

Another small-ship line, Windstar Cruises sails a 14-day “Tahitian Treasures and Magnificent Marquesas” itinerary on July 4, 2024; September 26, 2024; three dates in 2025; and one in 2026. Sailing roundtrip from Papeete, Tahiti, in French Polynesia, this 312-passenger Star Breeze will call at Fakarava; Rangiroa; Motu Mahaea (off Taha’a), Bora Bora (overnight) and Moorea. In the Marquesas, guests will visit Omoa, Fatu Hiva; Atuona, Hiva Oa; and Taiohae, Nuku Hiva.

Don’t miss the complimentary “Windstar Destination Discovery Event” on a tiny islet near Bora Bora. Guests will enjoy a private feast on the beach, with a menu created by Windstar’s executive chef. After dinner, fire dancing by local residents with high-speed acrobatic moves and flame throwing will dazzle guests.

Luxury Travel Advisor would suggest checking out Star Breeze’s 575-square-foot Owner’s Suite with living and dining areas, a private veranda, master bedroom, master bath and guest bath. Also, we like the ship’s 400-square-foot to 530-square-foot Classic Suites and new 468-square-foot Deluxe Suites.

The Kimberley and Melanesia

In spring 2024, Seabourn’s 264-passenger Seabourn Pursuit, will sail from Antarctica across the South Pacific, visiting many South Pacific isles along the way. Between June and August 2024, it will begin the line’s first exploration of the Kimberley region in the Northern Territory and western Australia. What’s special? The iconic region has dramatic, red sandstone gorges, rivers, waterfalls, wildlife, and Aboriginal life and history.

Travelers who want a “deep dive,” though should consider the ship’s 25-day “New Guinea, Indonesia & Kimberley Expedition,” departing Broome in western Australia on August 1, 2024, and arriving late in the month in Sydney, Australia. On that voyage, guests will go ashore at numerous Australia destinations and The Kimberley. Plus, in Indonesia, guests will explore off-the-beaten-path spots including Gam and Wayag islands, as well as Misool, Yapap Lagoon.

At off-the-beaten-path Agats, a small Indonesian town in South Papua, guests will stroll raised boardwalks (necessary for avoiding high tides in the streets). They’ll also visit a few local markets, shops offering wood carvings and other handicrafts, and the Museum Kebudayaan dan Kemajuan Asmat with impressive art and artifacts including full-body dance outfits.

The Kimberley region, Australia
Seabourn will begin the line’s first exploration of the Kimberley region in the Northern Territory and Western Australia between June and August 2024. The iconic region has dramatic, red sandstone gorges, rivers, waterfalls, wildlife, and Aboriginal life and history. (Getty Images)

On Seabourn Pursuit, a sister to Seabourn Venture, guests will find the same luxurious yacht-like experience found on the line’s other classic vessels. But the expedition ships also offer robust expedition activities led by a 24-person expedition team comprised of scientists, scholars, naturalists, geologists and other experts.

Designed for travel in remote, diverse environments, both Seabourn expedition vessels are built to PC6 Polar Class standards and offer nearly 30,000 square feet of deck space. Certainly, guests seeking a “lap of luxury” experience should consider Seabourn Pursuit’s two-level Wintergarden Suites, which can accommodate up to six passengers. The upstairs bedroom has stellar views through two-level glass windows. Staying connected is easier than in the past as Seabourn has added enhanced Wi-Fi connectivity with SpaceX’s Starlink.

Japan to Hawaii

On May 22, 2025, Oceania Cruises’ 670-passenger Regatta will sail a 72-day “Asia and Oceania Odyssey.” Departing from Tokyo, Japan, to Honolulu, Hawaii, on May 22, 2025, this grand adventure will take travelers to other ports in Japan including an overnight in Osaka. In addition, guests will go ashore in Xiamen, Shanghai (overnight) and Hong Kong (overnight), all in China; Vietnam including Hue and overnights in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City; Sihanoukville, Cambodia; Bangkok (overnight) and Ko Samui, Thailand; and Singapore.

Heading south, Regatta will call at many Indonesian ports including Komodo and a triple overnight stay in Bali. Guests will also explore the Australian ports or Darwin (overnight), Cairns, Townsville and Thursday Island before crossing the Coral Sea to Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa and American Samoa. We particularly like that this voyage also offers guests multiple port calls in Tahiti and French Polynesia over a seven-day period.

Seabourn Pursuit
Seabourn’s Seabourn Pursuit will sail from Antarctica across the South Pacific in Spring 2024, visiting many South Pacific isles along the way. Shown here is the Discovery Center. (Seabourn)

Many days at sea are also included, giving guests plenty of time for spa treatments, sunning by the pool, listening to enrichment lectures, working out in the ship’s fitness center, wine tasting and other onboard activities. Then, the “Asia and Oceania Odyssey” voyage concludes with multiple days in the Hawaiian Islands (Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii). So, on this journey, guests can explore ancient and modern sites in Japan and China, delve into diverse cultures and eco-systems in Southeast Asia, visit off-the-beaten-path Australia outposts and “soak in” the beauty of South Pacific isles.

At press time, Regatta’s 322-square-foot Penthouse Suites (PH1, PH2 and PH3) on Deck 8 were still available. Guest perks include priority embarkation, a bottle of Champagne waiting in the suite on arrival, butler service, priority online specialty dining restaurant reservations and unlimited access to the Aquamar Spa Terrace. The suite also offers an Ultra Tranquility Bed; refrigerated minibar with free, unlimited soft drinks and bottled water; Belgian chocolates at turn-down; complimentary 24-hour room service; a flat-screen TV with DVD player and extensive media library; writing desk; Wi-Fi access; use of an iPad upon request; up to three free bags of laundry per stateroom and much more.

Smithsonian Journeys

If clients are seeking a week-long voyage to Japan’s isles, and perhaps then to travel independently on land, one good cruise option is Ponant’s new, seven-night “Cultural and Natural Treasures of Japan by Sea,” operated by the 264-passenger Le Soleal. Departing May 21, 2024, this voyage operates from Maizuru to Hakodate, both in Japan.

Sailing along Japan’s northern coastlines, travelers will discover Feudal castles, Buddhist temples and traditional tea houses. The ship will also call at Busan, South Korea. Throughout this Smithsonian Journeys sailing, which is tailored to English-speaking travelers, cultural immersion is “front and center.” One guest performer on this cruise is Reison Kuroda, a master of the shakuhachi, a traditional Japanese bamboo flute.

Le Soleal
Ponant’s Le Soleal can accommodate upto 264 guests in 132 staterooms & suites. (Ponant)

On Sado Island, Japan, guests will be treated to an exclusive performance of taiko drumming by the famed drumming group Kodo. Upon arrival in Sakaiminato, Japan, guests might tour a 17th-century castle built entirely of pine or learn the ancient craft of papermaking. Eco-wise, the islands of Sado and Honshu have gorgeous natural landscapes, including dramatic cliffs at Senkakuwan Ageshima Yuen Park and the three sacred mountains, called Dewa Sanzan.

All guests on this Smithsonian Journeys sailing will receive transfers to/from the ship; talks and discussions aboard ship by experts; and a shore excursion or activity during each call. As for where to stay, Le Soleil’s pinnacle Owner’s Suite was not available, so we’d suggest a 398-square-foot Prestige Suite. These suites have a king-sized bed or two single beds; bathroom with bathtub (except Nos. 605 and 625, which have a shower); private balcony; and panoramic sliding bay window.

A Buddha Temple
Ponant’s new, seven-night “Cultural and Natural Treasures of Japan by Sea,” operated by Le Soleal, will depart May 21, 2024, from Maizuru to Hakodate, both in Japan. Shown here is a Buddha Temple.  (Courtesy Ponant)

Tahiti to New Zealand

For an ultra-luxury voyage from Tahiti to the South Pacific, Crystal (under new A&K Travel Group ownership) offers a 16-night Papeete to Auckland, New Zealand, voyage. Departing February 21, 2024, the newly revitalized, 740-passenger Crystal Serenity will call at Rarotonga, Cook Islands, where guests can explore volcanic landscapes, as well as Tonga, Fiji and Vanuatu. At scenic Noumea, New Caledonia, the ship will overnight.

Luxury Travel Advisor sailed last month on Crystal Serenity. Totally refreshed, it exuded a light, airy, soft look and feel—with new soft goods, furniture, fittings, carpeting and wall coverings. Tillberg Design adeptly redesigned public spaces, while GEM tackled stateroom/suite redesign and, in some cases, expanded the accommodations. We particularly liked our Deluxe Veranda Stateroom’s new marble bathroom.

Our perspective? We believe both past guests and new-to-cruise or new-to-brand guests should like Crystal Serenity. Dining was superb, restaurants are redesigned, and Umi Uma is back with a new menu. However, the casino is gone, as a Crystal past guest survey revealed that only 5 percent wouldn’t book if the casino was removed.

Most notable, guests will discover a more intimate ship. Under previous ownership, Crystal Serenity was a 940-passenger ship; now it’s only 740. While much is new, repeat travelers will find splashes of nostalgia, such as the retention of the atrium’s colorful ceiling.

Shukkei-en Garden in Hiroshima
The Shukkei-en Garden in Hiroshima (Courtesy Ponant)

Suite-wise, guests have new choices including four (versus two in the past) top-end, Crystal Penthouse Suites; a new Single Guestroom with Ocean View category; and another new category, the 645-square-foot Junior Crystal Penthouse Suite. Also, there’s a new configuration for the popular 430-square-foot Sapphire Veranda Suite. Now, guests can choose either the classic (bathtub and separate shower) configuration or the new design (a massive shower with rainforest and hand-held sprays, but no tub).

The upscale Azamara also sails from Papeete to Auckland during a 15-night “South Pacific Jewels Voyage,” departing January 24, 2025. The 684-passenger Azamara Onward will call at Bora Bora, French Polynesia; Pago Pago, American Samoa; Apia, Samoa; Nuku’alofa, Tonga; Lautoka and Suva, Fiji; and the Bay of Islands, Russel, New Zealand.

Think of Azamara Onward as a floating luxury boutique hotel. With tasteful, contemporary design, the ship’s 560-square-foot “Club World Owner’s Suite Stateroom” includes a spacious living room with 55” flat-screen television; a separate master bedroom with a queen size bed and 40” flat-screen television; a marble master bathroom with a shower; dressing room with vanity and closet; floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors in the living room and master bedroom; writing desk; and a 233-square-foot private veranda.

The Adachi Museum of Art in Yasugi
The Adachi Museum of Art in Yasugi. (Courtesy Ponant)

More Pacific Voyages

Viking will operate a new 31-day “Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia,” between Auckland and Bali (Benoa) on three separate departures (February, November and December) in 2024, as well as March 7, 2025. Eighteen guided shore excursions are included within the cruise fare. For the March 7, 2025, sailing, some top suite categories were “sold out” at press time, but Penthouse Junior Suites (PS3) and Penthouse Veranda (PV1) categories still had availability.

Separately, on March 14, 2025, Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth will sail a six-night voyage from Singapore to Hong Kong, plus operate an 18-night Hong Kong to Yokohama voyage on March 20, 2025; the latter will explore the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.

The Junior Crystal Penthouse Suite on Crystal Serenity has separate diningand living areas and a private veranda. (Crystal Cruises)

For those who appreciate both plenty of sea days and Hawaii exploration, the new Explora Journeys will offer an 18-night roundtrip “Extended Exploration of the Hawaiian Islands.” It’s offered by the luxurious new, Explora I roundtrip from Vancouver, BC, Canada. Departing April 18, 2024, the new ship will call at the Hawaiian isles of Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii. Guests will have plenty of destination immersion opportunities with overnights in both Hilo, Hawaii, and Honolulu, Oahu. Explora I offers 461 spacious oceanview suites, which start at 377 square feet and range up to 3,014 square feet.

In addition, many expedition lines including Aqua Expeditions and others also sail to more off-the-beaten-path South Pacific isles. Exotic travel is clearly back, and as travelers begin looking at far-flung journeys to adventure, they’ll discover many new enticing Asia and South Pacific voyages to consider.

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