Full of Eastern Promise
Stephanie Voyager takes to the high seas on a two-week cruise, picking up the boat in Hong Kong, visiting Vietnam and Cambodia, returning via Thailand
More people are now considering cruising as a holiday option. Once the bug hits, they seem to become devotees. The trick is to research the different cruise lines and find the one that suits you best.
This means co-ordinating your preferences with an appealing destination, and with the ship being where you want it to be at the time of the year that you wish to travel. My criteria were also that the trip would have some kind of stimulation other than a glitzy cabaret and casino.
As you join the ship, wherever it may be, for a section of its voyage, it does not necessarily have to be a British-owned company. I was pointed in the direction of Swan Hellenic, who pride themselves on their Discovery Cruises, which have the added bonus of being all inclusive.
That is, the excursions are all included in the price, although there are additional trips for which an extra charge is made. Their market is mainly for retired people, although I did have a
shock when I initially checked in at Heathrow to see so many people arriving in wheelchairs.
However, I soon found that many of my co-passengers had more energy than I. Fortunately, there was also a smattering of younger people on board, including a couple with a child.
Minerva is quite small, by today's standards, only holding 300 passengers, which is its attraction to a lot of its clientele. Decorated in country house style, it boasts an excellent library, including a well-stocked reference section.
Two dining rooms give you the option of the more formal waiter service or canteen-style help yourself. The main attraction of the latter is that it leads onto the open deck area which, in my opinion, is the nicest place to eat.
A bonus point for the eating arrangements is that you are not given a specific seat, but sit in the next available place. In this way, you have the opportunity of getting to know your fellow passengers.
An added bonus to the interesting places we were visiting were the lecturers on board. Specialists in their field, they covered the history, archaeology, modern conflict, variety of cultures and beliefs, art and architecture of the Far East, the area I had chosen to visit.
Web site created by Mark Griffin