Giant Pandas in Chengdu. Sumo wrestlers in Tokyo. Feng Shui in Hong Kong. These are some of the experiences available on several new Crystal Adventures shore excursions in Asia in early 2015. As you sail through exotic lands aboard the luxury cruise Crystal Symphony, you can choose from many tried-and-true land excursions, as well as these new ones:
CRYSTAL BOUTIQUE ADVENTURES
Exclusive to Crystal Cruises’ guests, Crystal Boutique Adventures are limited to small groups (six to 25 people), providing one-of-a-kind experiences that aren’t available to the average traveler. In Asia, we’ve added five new specially arranged excursions.
Dim Sum Making & Mixology at Ritz-Carlton. Hong Kong is renowned for its dim sum, and you’ll participate in a hands-on class in Tin Lung Heen, the hotel’s two-star Michelin restaurant, at the direction of Chef Lau. Afterward, dine on the morsels while you enjoy beverages created especially by the hotel’s award-winning mixologist at Ozone, the highest bar in the world, as you take in panoramic views of Kowloon, Victoria Harbor and Hong Kong Island.
Shanghai: A Day in the Life. During this rare experience, you’ll immerse yourself in the everyday life of a Shanghainese. Feel like a local as you participate in a tai chi class in the park; shop at the wet market; take a cooking class featuring local fare and lunch; join a calligraphy and paper cutting workshop; and enjoy tea with a local family in their home.
Sumo Stable. During this adventure, you’ll pay an early morning visit to the Tokyo Sumo Stable. There, you’ll observe “asa-keiko,” the traditional training and practice routines of Japan’s famed and elite wrestlers. A Sumo official will meet with the group to provide details about the sport and answer questions.
Sushi Making Workshop. On this adventure you’ll disembark the ship early in the morning to shop for sushi-making ingredients at the local Otaru market. You’ll see how the fish are delivered and bought, and help choose the ingredients for the workshop. Then, under the tutelage of a local Otaru chef, you’ll make — and eat — a sushi and sashimi meal, complete with sake tasting.
Taste of Kyoto. Participate in a cooking workshop after a trip to the market with a local chef for ingredients. You’ll help prepare a Japanese lunch consisting of traditional fare, using cooking techniques like tempura and teppanyaki. After, enjoy sake tastings as you dine on the dishes you prepared.
Among the new excursions is a two day, one-night Crystal Overland Adventure in China, which provides an up-close experience with pandas.
Giant Pandas: The Treasures of Chengdu. Travel to Chengdu by plane, where you’ll tour the UNESCO City of Gastronomy, visiting its historic highlights, including traditional tea houses, antique shops, Shufengyayun Theater, hotels, nightclubs and dining outlets. The next day, you’ll visit the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where you’ll have the rare opportunity to get up close and personal with a panda.
CRYSTAL ADVENTURES SHORE EXCURSIONS
We’ve introduced several regular Crystal Adventures shore excursions in Asia, too, and they span the region and the range of cultural opportunities.
Putrajaya in the Moonlight. Embark on an evening lake cruise where you will enjoy Putrajaya’s magnificent architecture that’s all the more striking in the evening. The architecture styles include neoclassic, Moorish and Islamic, with graceful domes and arched facades. More than 70 percent of the city’s space is devoted to greenery and water, earning it the nickname of “intelligent garden city.”
Fort Hill & Fireflies. From Kuala Lumpur, journey to the town of Kuala Selangor, where you’ll visit a fortified hill, home to the remains of Fort Altingsburg and a troop of free-roaming monkeys. After dinner, you’ll board a small boat, where you’ll float among mangrove trees and witness the enchanting blinking of one of the world’s largest firefly colonies.
Ko Pha Ngan Island Swim & Snorkel. From Koh Samui, Thailand, you’ll travel by speedboat to Ko Pha Ngan Island, famous for its sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and the “Full Moon Party,” a monthly dance and music festival that takes place during the full moon. Snorkel at Ko Ma, sightsee on the northeast part of the island, and swim at Long or Bottle Beach (depending on sea conditions).
The Mystical Feng Shui of Hong Kong. The 3,000-year-old principles of feng shui are alive and well in Hong Kong, and on this excursion, you’ll learn about how these principals are utilized to maintain harmony and balance. Among the places you’ll visit are the old Kai Tak Airport, now the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal; the bustling commercial district of Wanchai on Hong Kong Island; the China Resources Building; and the Central District, which play off one another in their use of feng shui.
The Architecture of Shanghai with Patrick Cranley. Join noted scholar and guide Patrick Cranley for an informative and engaging look at Shanghai. He’ll take you through the city’s older Bund and French Concession area, as well as the vibrant, newer World Financial Center in the Pudong district.
Geoje Island Impressions. South Korea’s Geoje Island, near Pusan, is home to the Korean War’s Geojedo, P.O.W Prison Camp, which was built by U.N. forces in 1951 and held 170,000 Chinese and North Korean prisoners. After a stop at Windy Hill, a bluff overlooking the ocean, visit Sinseondae Observatory, with its sweeping views.
“Book Now” fares are available through January 2, 2015.