Singapore's new Marina Bay Cruise Centre is set to welcome some of the world's most modern cruise ships as leading companies such as Royal Caribbean, Costa, Carnival and Cunard all send newer, bigger vessels for voyages out of the Lion City.
The terminal which opened in June has seen the arrival of eight ships, including the 15-deck Voyager of the Seas. Royal Caribbean alone will make more than 20 calls at Marina Bay Cruise Centre by the end of the year.
Within three years, 1.5 million people are expected to visit Singapore by cruise ship - up from one million in 2011 - as vessels carrying up to 6800 passengers include the city on their itineraries. Many ships will use the recently renovated Singapore Cruise Centre.
Itineraries to South-East Asia, China and Japan have never been more popular but voyages from Singapore have been something of a tradition for WA cruisers, as it was largely SuperStar Gemini, as far back as the late 1990s, that put the fly-cruise holiday on the map. As many as 70,000 West Australians each year would fly north to board the "local" favourite for the popular roundtrip Straits of Malacca cruises to Penang, Phuket, Malacca and Port Klang (Kuala Lumpur).
Gemini is retired but other ships are offering interesting voyages to exotic destinations. These itineraries are served by some of the most modern ships on the water and are competitively priced with the short five-hour flight between Singapore and Perth included in some packages. singaporecruise.com.sg
Here's a selection of voyages from Singapore:
Between October and April, Legend of the Seas will embark on its final season of short cruises from Singapore before relocating to the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Two-night Getaway Cruises which call at Malacca cost from $238, with five-night Spice of Southeast Asia cruises to Kuala Lumpur, Phuket and Langkawi from $543. A seven-night Borneo Explorer Cruise visits Kota Kinabalu and Bandar Seri Begawan and costs from $1092.The 11-deck Legend of the Seas has six pools and whirlpools, eight bars and lounges, a Broadway- style theatre, restaurants and an ice-cream bar, a 12-hole mini golf course and a rock climbing wall.
In October 2012 and 2013, Voyager of the Seas will embark on 14-night cruises south to Australia for its season of itineraries from Sydney. This year's cruise departs Singapore on October 22 and visits Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Port Hedland and Fremantle with inside cabins starting from $1915. The ship is bigger than Legend and has 15 bars, clubs and lounges and 10 pools. Features such as the Royal Promenade shopping street, Johnny Rockets Diner and the Portofino Italian restaurant have been installed during a recent revamp that has added many of the attractions found on the world's biggest cruise ships.
Mariner of the Seas will offer short cruises next June including a four-night Isles of Southeast Asia voyage which visits Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi with fares from $519 before embarking on a 10-night Exotic Asia Cruise to Shanghai on June 8 with calls at ports in Vietnam, Japan and South Korea. Fares are from $1082. The Mariner of the Seas carries more than 3100 passengers and has a climbing wall and ice rink. royalcaribbean.com.au
Costa is another line with a rapidly expanding fleet and as more ships are launched to cater for the European and Middle Eastern markets, so other vessels are sent to Singapore. From November, Costa Victoria will offer itineraries including a seven-night cruise to Malaysia and Thailand from $799 and a 14-night Jewels of the Far East cruise through the Straits of Malacca to Langkawi, Penang and Kuala Lumpur before returning to Singapore and then heading to Kuantan, Koh Samui and Laem Chabang (Bangkok). Cabins are from $1469.On November 21, Costa neoRomantica will embark on a 22-night voyage to Australia calling at Semarang, Bali, Lombok and Komodo Island, Darwin, Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. On January 28, the ship will leave on a 21-night voyage, The Enchantment and Wonders of the East, visiting Malaysia and Thailand as well as Colombo, Cochin, the Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius with fares from $1961. Costa neoRomantica was restyled this year at a cost of more than $100 million, making it a floating five-star resort, according to Costa.
In May, Costa Atlantica will offer three, four and seven-night Straits of Malacca cruises including stops at Malacca, Penang, Langkawi and Phuket. Fares are from $529. The ship's interior is inspired by Italian art and cinema and passengers have the choice of four restaurants, 12 wine bars, a fully equipped spa centre and a multi-purpose sports court and running track. costacruise.com
MS Amsterdam will leave Singapore on a 41-day Grand Asia and Australia voyage which visits ports in Indonesia before visiting Sydney and New Zealand and cruising the South Pacific to Fiji and Honolulu, eventually arriving in San Diego. Fares start from $7792 for the full cruise on the 1380-passenger ship which houses a multi-million-dollar art collection, a host of restaurants and a swimming area with a retractable roof.
The line will also offer cruises on Rotterdam and Volendam. The latter will embark on 11 and 14-day Far East Discovery Cruises to Hong Kong between December and February with fares starting from $1298 for an itinerary which includes stops in Thailand and Vietnam.
The 28-day Thailand, Vietnam and China Discovery, departing on February 4 and ending a month later in Kobe, is a great chance to explore East Asia including exotic ports such as Sihanoukville in Cambodia, Shanghai and Dalian in China and Nagasaki in Japan, with fares from $3548. The garden- themed Volendam is known for extravagant flower arrangement in its public rooms. These include a Culinary Arts Centre which hosts interactive cooking lessons and the Crows Nest which is a nightclub after dark. hollandamerica.com
Celebrity Millennium is fresh from a $140 million revitalisation which added new dining options and AquaClass staterooms, that come with private balconies and in-room facilities including bathrobes, slippers, aromatherapy products as well as free access to specialty restaurant Blu, and the Persian Garden and Relaxation Room.
The ship will embark on a host of South-East Asia cruises including a 14-night itinerary visiting Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong with departures in December, February and March from $1389. Celebrity Solstice will be a first-time visitor to Australian shores when it arrives in Sydney after a 16-night cruise which leaves Singapore on November 23. The 2850-passenger ship has a Lawn Club where passengers can play bocce or have a barbecue, as well as a glass-blowing studio and 10 restaurants. It will cruise via Bali, Darwin, Cairns (Yorkey's Knob) and Brisbane. Fares are from $2155. celebritycruises.com
Azamara Club Cruises
The 694-passenger luxury ship Azamara Journey will offer 14 and 15-night cruises from Singapore and a 17-night and 14-night cruise from Hong Kong to Singapore between December and April. Fares on an eight-night cruise to Vietnam and China start from $1995 for an interior cabin. The ship has two restaurants, a Spa and Wellness Centre, and a piano bar and wine bar. azamaraclubcruises.com
Luxury line Seabourn will have four of its six-ship fleet cruising from Singapore over the next two summers. These smaller ships have a high crew-to-passenger ratio and the vessels can enter ports that are out of bounds to bigger liners. Seabourn Quest will still be less than two years old when it leaves Singapore on March 23 for a 41-day world voyage through Asia and India to Turkey, Greece and Italy via the UAE, Oman, Egypt, Jordan and Israel. The all-suite ship carries just 450 passengers with fares from $18,597.
Seabourn Odyssey is also a new ship and will visit five ports in the Indonesian archipelago on 10-day cruises departing Singapore on December 11 and March 15 with fares from $3165. The vessel has one of the biggest spas at sea, two swimming pools, six whirlpools and a marina which allows passengers to enjoy water sports on the ship. seabourn.com
Princess Cruises will have a massive presence in Singapore with ships including Ocean, Sun and Dawn Princess offering itineraries in the next 18 months. Fares start from $2099 on a 14-day Treasure of Asia cruise to Fremantle on Dawn Princess departing on May 27, visiting Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia. The 15-deck Dawn Princess has a host of restaurants and pools, a theatre and outdoor cinema.
A 31-day Asia and Africa voyage on board Ocean Princess and departing Singapore on April 6, 2014 offers the chance to explore further afield with visits to countries as diverse as Oman and South Africa and stops at Indian Ocean islands such as Mauritius and Reunion. Ocean-view cabins are from $7294. princess.com
Passengers can cruise on one of the world's biggest and grandest ocean liners, Queen Mary 2, when it leaves Singapore on February 9 on 24 and 26-night voyages to Brisbane and Sydney. Queen Mary 2 has all the elegance you would expect of a Cunard liner and is still the biggest passenger ship to have visited Australia. It has the biggest ballroom and library at sea, 10 dining rooms, five swimming pools and a planetarium. The cruise to Sydney stops at Koh Samui, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Cairns and Brisbane and costs from $4622. cunard.com
Luxurious small ships Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper will cruise north to China and south to Indonesia on voyages of between 7 and 11 days with fares from $3199 on Shadow's week-long roundtrip Malacca Straits cruise. More than 300 crew are onboard to serve 382 passengers on a ship which has ocean-view cabins with butler service, personalised stationery, walk-in robes, marble bathrooms and a wine restaurant by luxury French brand Relais & Chateaux. The equally opulent Silver Whisper heads for Mauritius on March 8 visiting along the way, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India and the Maldives with fares on the 16-day voyage from $6999. silversea.com
Passengers on Crystal Symphony will be treated to spacious suites, cuisine including classic Italian through to Nobu-inspired Japanese, complimentary 24-hour in-room dining, lavish Broadway- style productions, and rotating music ensembles. The ship will embark on just one itinerary, a 16-day Treasures of South East Asia cruise on March 7. Ports of call include Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi and Hong Kong on the itinerary which starts from $7565 per person. crystalcruises.com
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Pagoda & Palaces is a 16-night voyage that Seven Seas Voyager will cruise from Singapore on February 11 with stops at Koh Samui, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Huang Pu and Hong Kong. The striking karst islets in Vietnam's Halong Bay will be a highlight seen from the all-suite ship which holds 700 passengers. All shore excursions are included in the price of the voyage which costs from $11,199. rssc.com
Classic International Cruises
Flagship Athena will again be based in Fremantle this summer. The ship will arrive on the west coast after a seven-night cruise which departs Singapore on December 11. classicintcruises.com
Star Cruises, the line that really put fly-cruise itineraries from Singapore on the radar, still offers a good selection from the Lion City. These voyages have been a mainstay since the days of Superstar Gemini, when West Australians accounted for a massive 40 per cent of the ship's market. Many cruised on the vessel year after year - some took the Straits of Malacca cruises scores of times and formed lasting friendships with other passengers, crew and people at each port they visited.
Star's recipe for success lay in the attraction of smaller, more intimate ships with more casual arrangements such as "freestyle dining" which allowed passengers to eat at different tables rather than a fixed place every night. The tradition of cruising from Singapore has continued on SuperStar Virgo which, despite carrying only 1870 passengers, has great facilities including Japanese, Chinese and Continental restaurants, an Indian buffet and a champagne bar.
Each Friday, it departs Singapore on two-night round trips, returning each Sunday for a mix of Straits of Malacca cruises varying between three-night itineraries to Penang and Phuket and five-night cruises which also include Kuala Lumpur. An ocean-view cabin on the November 25 departure of the five-night cruise is available from $2668. starcruises.com
All prices are per person, twin-share.