This winter and spring, 17 cruises onboard Compagnie du Ponant’s Le Diamant will sail to Asia, including ports in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, China, South Korea and Japan.
Reminiscent of the line's Song of Flower, the 226-guest ship's 113 state rooms and suites all have panoramic ocean views. While only a few have private verandas, all guests rooms feature individually controlled air conditioning, a choice of king or twin beds, as well as L'Occitane amenities, a flat-screen satellite TV, DVD/CD players, a direct-dial satellite telephone, Wi-Fi, a mini-bar and a safe.
Ship amenities include three restaurants with a 1:2 staff-to-guest ratio, two lounges, four bars and a theatre. Guests can unwind in the library, peruse the boutique and enjoy the beauty and fitness area with a massage room. Then, passengers take a dip in the swimming pool and stroll along the full-circle promenade deck. Once docked, passengers can take the ship's zodiacs (inflatable boats) along the bay or nearby beach.
From November 8, 2010 to May 4, 2011, "Indian Flavors" will take passengers on an 11-night voyage around the Indian peninsula and Sri Lanka. Departing from Mumbai, the ship will visit Goa, home to 16th and 18th Century colonial churches, then Kochi, featuring St. Francis, the oldest European church in India, a 16th Century synagogue and the Dutch Mattancherry Palace. Three ports in Sri Lanka will introduce passengers to the natural bays, beach and 17th century Dutch fortress at Galle. Pre-cruise, guests will have three days in Mumbai to visit the Jain temple, Dhobi Ghaat and the Gandhi museum. Post-cruise, disembarking in Chennai, passengers can visit Kanchipuram and the Ninth Century temple of Ekambaranathar, dedicated to Shiva, during a two-day post-cruise extension.
Departing Phuket November 23, "Diamonds of Siam and Pearls of Malacca" takes passengers on a nine-night voyages to Singapore through five ports in Malaysia, Belawan on Sumatra and Singapore. First sailing to Malaysia's Langkawi archipelago, the ship next stops in Penang before crossing the straight to Belawn, home of the Bataks, before stopping in Kuala Lumpur and disembarking in Malacca. Pre-cruise, guests can see Bangkok's Grand Palace, Emerald Buddha, Wat Po and the city’s floating markets. Post-cruise, travelers can take advantage of the over-nights itinerary to sight-see.
Five itineraries take voyagers along the coast of vietnam, including optional side-trips to Cambodia's AngkorWat. Departing December 2, "From the Mekong Delta to Halong Bay," Le Diamant departs Singapore on a 14-night cruise to Hong Kong through six ports in Vietnam. Stopping first in Ho Chi Minh City, guests will a cruise up the Mekong River, visit Nha Trang, featuring Hindi and Buddhist Temples, before going towards Quy Nhon, to see the Cham Temples. Afterwards, passengers can walk through the 18th Century architecture in Hoi An and through the Imperial City of Hue, dating back to the Ngyuen Dynasty. Finally, Le Diamant will sail around Halong Bay's tall limestone rocks and quiet coves, then tour Hanoi, "city of lakes," featuring ancient temples, pagados and French colonial architecture, before disembarking in Hong Kong. There, guests will have two days to explore the city, including its harbor, shopping and restaurant scene. Similar trips will be available December 16 and 28, January 9 and February 26.
Four China itineraries (January 21 and 31 and February 8 and 16) will take visitors along the coast from Hong Kong to Shanghai, two of which will include a visit to Seoul. Departing Haiphong, the 10-night "Secrets of Vietnam and the Chinese Empire" starts with an optional trip to Hanoi, then through Halong Bay and Hong Kong to Xiamen in Fujian Province. Alternatively, passengers can choose instead to take a three-day trip to see Xian, including the island of Gulang Yu, lined with cobblestone streets, featuring 19th century British colonial architecture. Next, the ship will stop at the island of Putuoshan in the Zhoushan archipelago, populated by fishing villages and sprinkled by Buddhist temples throughout the mountain area. Concluding the trip before Shanghai is Ningbo, one of China's oldest cities, home to the Tian Tong Buddhist temple, first built in 300 AD. In an optional extension, passengers can stay in Shanghai and Beijing to visit the Forbidden City and the Great Wall. Similarly, the 10-night "Cities of Vietnam and Chinese Dynasties" is offered, leaving February 16.
On January 31, the eight-night "Chinese New Year in the Land of the Dragon" depart from Shanghai to Tianjin. Heading up the Yangtze River to Janjing, chosen capital by the founder of the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, where guests can visit his tomb at Purple Mountain, before arriving at the seaside town, Qingdao, home to Taoist temples. Next, Le Diamant will cross the Yellow Sea to Inchon in South Korea, before arriving in Seoul, where guests can see the city's ancient palaces, fortress gates and traditional markets. Coming back to China, the ship will stop at Tianjin that features 19th century English, French and German colonial mansions, as well as antique shops. In a similar eight-night itinerary, "From the Great Wall to the Yangtze," departs February 8, which guests can choose to extend, pre- and post-cruise in Shanghai and Beijing.
Heading out of Shanghai towards Japan are the two 10-night itineraries, "Land of the Rising Sun," visit seven ports. Departing March 23, the ship's visits include Inchon, Nagasaki, Kagoshima, Umajima, Hiroshima, Unoko and Himaji to end in Osaka. The April 2 itinerary is the same program, reversed, from Osaka to Shanghai.
Wrapping up next spring, Le Diamant will sail through Asia, stopping in the Philippines and Borneo. Cruises start at $2,820 per person, including double occupancy for a Category E stateroom on the 10-night Haiphong to Shanghai cruise (January 9), and up to $8,995 per person, for a double in the Owner’s Suite on the 14-day Singapore to Hong Kong cruise December 2. All prices include all wine, beer, mineral water, soft drinks and coffees accompanying meals. Agent commissions offered by Compagnie du Ponant range between 10 and 15 percent.