82 Days

Roundtrip Los Angeles

Sep 30, 2018 | aboard Amsterdam

Inside Starting from:
WAS $17,256 NOW $13,799 CAD
with Air*, Taxes & Fees Included
RT LA map 9-30


  • FREE Roundtrip Air*
    • For select gateways only
    • Low air add-on available for other gateways, please ask for details
  • FREE Transfers in Los Angeles
    • (from airport to cruise terminal; cruise terminal to airport)
  • FREE Shipboard Credit
    • Inside & Oceanview: $400USD/Cabin
    • Vista Suite & up: $1,000USD/Cabin
  • FREE Day Tours
    • 5 Guided City Tours in: Tokyo, Beijing (Great Wall of China), Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney
    • Valued at $2,700CAD/cabin
  • FREE China Visa Service & Fees
    • Valued at $500/cabin
  • FREE Pre-paid Gratuities
    • For Neptune suites only, valued at $3,400CAD/cabin
  • Travel Insurance (Trip Cancellation & Trip Interruption)
  • Government Taxes and Fees
Cruise Connections Exclusive Price/person (CAD)
INCLUDES: Air* + Transfers | Taxes & Fees | Travel Insurance
Cabin Category Inside Obstructed Oceanview Oceanview Vista Sutie Neptune Suite
Total Fare $17,256 $18,712 $23,953 $34,873 $61,384
Special Offer from
(Gateway: Vancouver)
$13,799 $17,199 $19,499 $28,099 $52,399
Special Offer from
(Gateway: Toronto)
$13,899 $17,299 $19,599 $28,199 $52,499
Savings (per couple) $6,914 $2,826 $8,709 $13,549 $18,016

Low Air-add-on available for other gateways, please call for details.


Limited Inventory

Date Port Arrive Depart
Sep 30, 2018 Los Angeles, California   5:00 PM
Oct 01- 05, 2018 At Sea    
Oct 06, 2018 Dutch Harbor, Alaska 8:00 AM 5:00 PM
Oct 07, 2018 At Sea    
Oct 08, 2018 Cross International Dateline    
Oct 10, 2018 At Sea    
Oct 11, 2018 Petropavlovsk, Russia 6:00 AM 8:00 PM
Oct 12- 13, 2018 At Sea    
Oct 14, 2018 Kushiro, Japan 8:00 AM 5:00 PM
Oct 15, 2018 At Sea    
Oct 16- 17, 2018 Yokohama, Japan 8:00 AM 6:00 PM
Oct 18, 2018 Shimizu, Japan 7:00 AM 3:00 PM
Oct 19, 2018 Kobe, Japan 9:00 AM 9:00 PM
Oct 20, 2018 Kochi, Japan 9:00 AM 6:00 PM
Oct 21, 2018 Scenic Cruising Kanmon Strait    
Oct 21, 2018 Fukuoka (Hakata), Japan 12:00 PM 11:00 PM
Oct 22- 23, 2018 At Sea    
Oct 24- 25, 2018 Tianjin, China 7:00 AM 6:00 PM
Oct 26- 27, 2018 At Sea    
Oct 28- 29, 2018 Shanghai, China 8:00 AM 6:00 PM
Oct 30, 2018 At Sea    
Oct 31, 2018 Naha, Japan 7:00 AM 6:00 PM
Nov 01, 2018 Ishigaki Island, Japan 8:00 AM 5:00 PM
Nov 02, 2018 Keelung, Taiwan 8:00 AM 6:00 PM
Nov 03, 2018 At Sea    
Nov 04- 05, 2018 Hong Kong, China 7:00 AM 6:00 PM
Nov 06, 2018 At Sea    
Nov 07, 2018 Nha Trang, Vietnam 8:00 AM 5:00 PM
Nov 08, 2018 Phu My, Vietnam 6:00 AM 6:00 PM
Nov 09, 2018 At Sea    
Nov 10- 11, 2018 Singapore 8:00 AM 5:00 PM
Nov 12, 2018 At Sea    
Nov 13, 2018 Semarang, Java, Indonesia 8:00 AM 6:00 PM
Nov 14, 2018 At Sea    
Nov 15, 2018 Bali, Indonesia 2:00 AM 8:00 PM
Nov 16, 2018 Komodo Island, Indonesia 12:00 PM 6:00 PM
Nov 17, 2018 At Sea    
Nov 18, 2018 Darwin, Australia 10:00 AM 8:00 PM
Nov 19- 21, 2018 At Sea    
Nov 22, 2018 Cairns, Australia 8:00 AM 9:00 PM
Nov 23- 24, 2018 At Sea    
Nov 25, 2018 Mooloolaba, Australia 8:00 AM 9:00 PM
Nov 26, 2018 At Sea    
Nov 27- 28, 2018 Sydney, Australia 8:00 AM 6:00 PM
Nov 29- 30, 2018 At Sea    
Dec 01, 2018 Noumea, New Caledonia 8:00 AM 5:00 PM
Dec 02, 2018 Easo, New Caledonia 8:00 AM 5:00 PM
Dec 03, 2018 Mystery Island, Vanuatu 8:00 AM 5:00 PM
Dec 04, 2018 At Sea    
Dec 05, 2018 Port Denerau, Fiji 8:00 AM 5:00 PM
Dec 06, 2018 Suva, Fiji Islands 8:00 AM 5:00 PM
Dec 07, 2018 At Sea    
Dec 08, 2018 Apia, Upolo, Samoa 8:00 AM 6:00 PM
Dec 08, 2018 Cross International Dateline    
Dec 08, 2018 Pago Pago, American Samoa 8:00 AM 6:00 PM
Dec 09, 2018 Crossing the Equator    
Dec 08- 13, 2018 At Sea    
Dec 14, 2018 Honolulu, Hawaii 7:00 AM 11:00 PM
Dec 15, 2018 Lahaina, Hawaii 8:00 AM 11:00 PM
Dec 16- 20, 2018 At Sea    
Dec 21, 2018 Los Angeles, California Disembark 7:00 AM  

Dutch Harbor, Alaska, US

The volcanic Aleutian Islands stretch between the United States and Russia in the Bering Sea. The archipelago’s largest community goes by two names—Unalaska and Dutch Harbor—though you may hear really old-time Aleut speakers say “Ounalashka” too. Want to sound like one of the fishing port’s 4,300-odd residents? Just stick with “Dutch.” In the easternmost arc—the Fox Island subgroup—this flourishing town depends more on the fish-processing industry than on tourism. In fact, Dutch Harbor netted 762 million pounds in 2014, maintaining its “most seafood landed” status for the 18th consecutive year. But visitors may be more familiar with its fame from Deadliest Catch, a TV series about the brutal struggle to harvest Alaskan king crabs—a task often called the world’s most dangerous job. While its stark natural beauty is the main draw, Dutch woos tourists with the oldest Russian-Orthodox cruciform church in North America (note the darkened icons, damaged while locals were exiled to WWII internment camps). Learn more about the Aleutians’ war—Japanese forces invaded the area, making it the only occupied American soil during the conflict—at the National Historic Area.

Cross International Dateline

Travelers flying or cruising across the Pacific Ocean get to experience the only-one-place-in-the-world feeling of adding or losing a day within the span of a second. The International Date Line is the longitudinal boundary between where one day starts (to the west) and another day ends (to the east). It runs roughly along the 180th meridian of longitude in the middle of the ocean—with some exceptions in the southern Pacific, where sovereign islands opted for one side over the other for commercial reasons. The Date Line was initially proposed by astronomers from 25 countries at a conference in 1884, but took until the early 1900s to become standardized globally. After a few adjustments, the position of the Date Line was formalized in 1921.

Petropavlovsk, Kamchatskiy, Russia

While sailing on behalf of Russia in the 1740s, Danish explorer Vitus Bering—yes, the same person after whom the strait is named—landed at the site that would become the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. His jaw likely dropped at the stunning backdrop of the Koryaksky and Avachinsky volcanic peaks. (More recently, UNESCO included the two peaks as part of Kamchatka’s World Heritage Site of volcanoes.) If it were located anywhere else, Avacha Bay, where Petropavlovsk sits and which also hosts a submarine base, would be overrun with visitors. In the Crimean War, it was almost overrun by less benign visitors: Anglo-French forces in an unsuccessful siege. The city’s defenders are today memorialized with a graceful chapel in the wooded Nikolskaya Hill Park.The fact that the city is not visited by more travelers each year is probably because it lies on the remote 1,200-kilometer-long (750-mile) Kamchatka Peninsula, and more specifically along the Ring of Fire. Indeed, Avachinsky erupted as recently as 2008. You won’t have to face crowds to see Petropavlovsk’s iconic landmark, the dramatic rock stacks called the Three Brothers that sit at the entrance to Avacha Bay, or to embark on one of the whale-watching tours that depart from the port.

Kushiro, Japan

Don’t come to Kushiro expecting blue skies and a blazing sun. This town of roughly 200,000 people in southeast Hokkaido is known instead for its misty appeal, often shrouded in a fog that adds to the port’s atmosphere. But the natural and cultural attractions that await nearby are brilliant in any weather. Japan’s largest undeveloped wetlands—Kushiro Shitsugen National Park—sprawl across some 270 square kilometers (104 square miles) just north of town. This is the place to see the revered Japanese crane, also known as the red-crowned crane. Options for visiting the park include canoe tours through the marshlands or visits to the accessible boardwalk trails at the official visitor center. The Kushiro area is home to another natural wonder farther north at Akan National Park, where you can admire volcanoes and pristine crater lakes and dip into one of the area’s onsen, or natural hot springs. Hokkaido’s most beautiful lake, Lake Mashu—reputedly the clearest lake in the world—will make your head spin with its pure beauty. There are sulfur-spewing volcanoes to visit here as well. When you’re back in town in Kushiro, don’t miss a visit to the Washo market for fresh sushi and sashimi or the fisherman’s wharf for some souvenir shopping.

Yokohama, Japan

Until the mid-19th century, Japan lived in isolation, closed off from the rest of the world, and Yokohama was a mere fishing village. But in 1853, American naval officer Matthew Perry demanded the country open to foreign trade, and Yokohama was changed forever. The city quickly emerged as an international trading center, and while today it is often overshadowed by nearby Tokyo, it continues to be one of Japan’s liveliest, and most international, destinations. With its microbreweries and international restaurants, Yokohama has a decidedly different feel from many other Japanese cities. From Yokohama, it’s a quick trip to peaceful Kamakura, home to Daibutsu, Japan’s second-largest bronze Buddha, and to the important Shinto shrine Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. Head to Hakone National Park on a clear day and you’ll be rewarded with picture-postcard views of majestic Mt. Fuji. Tokyo is the largest city on earth and packed with some of the world’s best shops, museums and restaurants, big and small. While the bright neon lights and the bustle of contemporary Tokyo may be what comes to mind when you think of the city, there is another side. Tokyo's historic gardens and neighborhoods of traditional homes on narrow lanes speak to a timeless Japan that has survived into the 21st century.

Shimizu, Japan

Widely regarded as one of Japan’s most beautiful ports, Shimizu affords peerless views of Mount Fuji on a clear day and claims the scenic Miho-no-Matsubara pine forest as a backdrop (both are UNESCO World Heritage sites). The port’s temperate climate and rich culture—heavily connected to the surrounding Shizuoka region—have made it one of the country’s prime sightseeing destinations. A few of the main attractions include Kunozan Toshogu Shrine, designated a National Treasure by the Japanese government, Sumpu Castle (built in 1586) and Shizuoka Sengen Shrine, where warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu, who ushered in the Edo period, held his coming-of-age ceremony. Tokugawa shoguns ruled Japan for 250 years, until 1867. The broader region offers plenty in the way of picturesque coastal landscapes, tea plantations and a wealth of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, while the port itself—famed in the 1900s for its tea exports—is today best known for its prodigious tuna haul, the biggest in Japan, samples of which can be enjoyed in many of the port’s fantastic restaurants along with other local delicacies such as sakura shrimp and shirasu (whitebait).

Kobe, Japan

One of the greatest things about Japan is its attention to detail. Nothing is too small for consideration. Nailheads on temple walkways are hidden by inlaid metal covers. If the train schedule says the train arrives at 11:05, it will not be there at 11:04; and if it’s more than 10 minutes late, you can get the rail line to give you an excuse form to present back at the office, explaining your tardiness. Shops sell combs and hairpins made with the same patterns and in the same way as 500 years ago. So maybe this attention to detail explains what happened in 20th-century Kobe. Some farmer was looking at his cow, thinking, “What possibilities of perfection am I missing?” Cows were still a new thing; they were banned as food almost until WWII, so cow rules were in flux when this farmer began massaging his herd with sake. The cows got pleasantly drunk on local beer and listened to classical music—and in return for the pampering, they produced, and continue to produce, heavily marbled, melt-in-the-mouth cuts of meat that can easily sell for a hundred bucks a dish. Like everything else in town, Kobe beef is all in the details. Among the Japanese, Kobe is considered exotic: “If you can’t go to Paris, go to Kobe.” And it does make a nice break from Osaka’s relentless pace. Order a steak, find a window booth and watch the details.

Scenic Cruising Kanmon Strait

The Kanmon Strait is a narrow channel of water that separates two of Japan's main islands, Honshu and Kyushu. The channel has long been important to maritime transportation and cargo ships, as it connects the Sea of Japan and the Inland Sea. Passenger and car ferries link the port cities of Shimonoseki and Kitakyushu, as do trains and bridges. The battle between the U.S. and Japanese navies that presaged the Shimonoseki Campaign in 1863 took place here, and eventually led to Japan's opening up to Western powers. The cannons used during the campaign can today be seen near Shimonoseki’s port, where you can also dine at gourmet restaurants serving local delicacies such as fugu (blowfish), shop at venues like the Sea Mall, and connect with ferry service to Busan, in South Korea, and the island of Kyushu.The port at Kitakyushu (Moji Port) is equally historic and attractive, serving as a gateway to Honshu and Kyushu for centuries as well as an important international trade hub since the late 19th century. Although more industrial than Shimonoseki, it has many Western-style buildings, including the neo-Renaissance Mojiko Station, constructed in 1914, as well as other tourist attractions such as a developed promenade and the Kawachi Fuji Gardens. A highlight of the Kanmon Strait is an annual fireworks display—the largest in Japan—with more than 13,000 rockets fired from both sides of the strait. The spectacle draws more than a million visitors every August.

Fukuoka (Hakata), Japan

Fukuoka, Kyushu's largest city, was once two separate entities: Fukuoka in the west and the merchant area of Hakata to the east. Joined together in 1889, the contemporary city—population 1.5 million—has a lively, modern atmosphere, an array of impressive architecture by international starchitects, including Rem Koolhaas, César Pelli, Emilio Ambasz and Aldo Rossi, and a number of cultural attractions and museums such as the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum. Modern developments like Canal City—a mixed-use complex designed by American Jon Jerde that contains hotels, cinemas, restaurants and shops—lend the city space a futuristic air, as does the striking 234-meter (768-foot) Fukuoka Tower, which is covered in mirrored glass and has an observation deck. On the historical side, sites like the Kushida Shrine and the ruins of Fukuoka Castle offer traditional and cultural insights. The pond in the center of Ōhori, Fukuoka's largest park, was once part of Fukuoka Castle's moat, and you'll find gardens, a zoo, an amusement park and a car museum in Uminonakamichi Seaside Park.

Tianjin (Beijing), China

When it comes to culture and history, few cities compete with China’s capital, Beijing, roughly two hours north of the port of Tianjin. Its Forbidden City is unparalleled: This massive former imperial complex is home to the Palace Museum and its collection of nearly 1 million Chinese antiquities. At the Summer Palace, you can stroll the same covered walkways that emperors and their courts did. The Temple of Heaven is a handsome Taoist place of worship surrounded by a large public park where you will see locals making offerings, practicing tai chi and flying kites. And, of course, there is the Great Wall, at a staggering length of 21,000 kilometers (13,000 miles) a true wonder of the world. Though Tianjin often plays second fiddle to Beijing, this city has a number of important cultural sights of its own. At the Confucius Temple, learn about the great philosopher's teachings and do as the locals do by writing prayers or wishes on small plaques. You can learn about the city’s history at the excellent Tianjin Museum and at the Shi Family Mansion, the stately former home of one of Tianjin’s leading families.

Shanghai, China

Shanghai is one of Asia’s most dynamic cities, and one of juxtapositions. It’s divided in two by the Huangpu River—to the west is Puxi and to the east Pudong. Puxi is the city’s downtown and its historic center; on this side of the river, much of the city was historically divided into the famous foreign concessions, and it’s here that much of the shopping, dining and nightlife is concentrated today. Shanghai has more than 30,000 restaurants, from humble soup dumpling spots to formal affairs helmed by Michelin-starred chefs. Its museums, particularly the Shanghai Museum with its 120,000-strong collection of antiquities, are equally impressive. Pudong is where the city’s major skyscrapers stand, among them the Jin Mao and Oriental Pearl towers. Nowhere is Shanghai’s rich history and bright future more evident than along the Huangpu River. Stand on the Puxi side and, with the Bund—along which curve Shanghai’s stately early-20th-century heritage buildings—behind you, you can gaze across the river at some of the world’s tallest buildings, soaring skyscrapers that glow nightly, their lights reflected in the river.

Naha, Japan

Naha, the capital of Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture and its biggest city, also serves as the region’s key political, economic and transportation hub. With a fascinating past as the capital of the Ryukyu Kingdom and a working port that dates back to the 15th century, this city of 300,000 residents manages to be both a compelling city and a laid-back one. Because it was largely destroyed during World War II, there aren’t many old buildings here; however, a few restored remains from the Ryukyu Kingdom era provide historic interest, including Shuri Castle, the royal residence, and its extraordinary gardens—both of which are included in a local group designated together as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other legendary sites include the Royal Mausoleum (burial tombs set inside caves) and the Shurei Gate, so magnificent that its image appears on the 2,000-yen note. There are also a few contemporary hotspots, namely Kokusai Street, which offers almost two kilometers (1.25 miles) of shops, cafés and restaurants, and the nearby Makishi Public Market, which has dozens of food vendors hawking delicious treats. If you want to explore farther afield, Naha is the ideal jumping-off point for excursions to the rest of Okinawa.

Ishigaki Island, Japan

Talk with the Japanese a while about the Japanese and you’re going to hear the word shimagunikonjo. The breakdown is simple: shima—island; guni—nation; konjo—consciousness. In one word, it's the firm belief that people who live on islands are different from people who live on continents, and anyone who’s done both is likely to agree. American culture may be the strongest influence in Japan now, but the Japanese will understand the motivations of the Brits a whole lot better. Islands require a different mind-set than continents. Islands require manners. But what if your island was never meant to be part of another bunch of islands? That’s what’s happened with today’s Okinawa Prefecture. The people who’ve always been there are Okinawan, one of the healthiest, longest-living people on earth. But now they’re part of Japan and seriously outnumbered by the Japanese. (And they’re not at all happy that the Japanese interlopers gave so much of their land over to U.S. military bases.) Signs of Okinawan culture can be subtle but are easier to pick out in more remote islands of the chain, like Ishigaki. Traditional buildings are a mixture of Chinese and Japanese influences. In the markets, you’ll find fu chanpuru (an Okinawan stir fry dish) and whole-wheat soba, which the Japanese won't touch. The ryuso robe holds on despite crowded kimono stores. The few people left who speak Uchinaguchi are praying for a movement like the Hawaiian renaissance to bring the culture back. The tipping point is close. A trip to Ishigaki now is to witness either the beginning or the end.

Keelung (Taipei), Taiwan

Keelung City’s sheltered harbor and its location on Taiwan’s north coast have meant that, over the centuries, it has been ruled by the Spanish, Dutch and Chinese. While there are plenty of good coffee shops, markets and museums in the compact downtown and you can enjoy delicious seafood dishes at the Night Market, the city is today principally a gateway to Taipei for many travelers. Taiwan’s capital is just a half hour away by car or around 45 minutes by train. Long a small outpost of the Chinese empire, the city began to grow in the 19th century, when settlement from the mainland was encouraged. Then, from 1895 to 1945, the city (and all of Taiwan) was occupied by the Japanese. At the end of World War II, Taipei was handed over to the Republic of China, led by Chiang Kai-shek. In the decades since, it has seen an explosion of growth, but traditional temples and world-class museums still sit amid the skyscrapers. The modern metropolis also has top restaurants, food markets and upscale shopping. The Taipei Metro makes it easy to explore the city, or you can take an excursion to the countryside: A national park and a protected forest make for excellent day trips from both Taipei and Keelung.

Hong Kong, China

Among the world's most glamorous and cosmopolitan cities, Hong Kong sits on the southern coast of China at the Pearl River estuary of the South China Sea. It comprises Hong Kong Island, where the Central Business District and most affluent areas and attractions are, and, on the mainland, Kowloon and the New Territories. Hong Kong is a regional and global hub for banking, shipping, fashion and food, boasting more than 60 Michelin-starred restaurants. Its five-star hotels are among the most elegant to be found anywhere; many are set in the towering skyscrapers that carpet Hong Kong Island's steep slopes and light up its skyline so beautifully.Officially known as Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy relative to the rest of China, even after it was reunified with China in 1997 after 156 years of British rule ended.Many cruises in Southeast and East Asia start or end in Hong Kong, and it's definitely a great city in which to spend a day or two sightseeing and finding cultural things to do before or after the voyage. Smaller cruise ships can dock right in Victoria Harbour, for front-row seats of the stunning skyline. Unfortunately, pollution is a problem, and sometimes the views are obscured because of it.

Nha Trang, Vietnam

In Nha Trang, on the southern Vietnamese coast, you'll find a magical combination of historic sites along with a stunning beach. You can while away a day here soaking up the sun, sand and sea, alternating snorkeling or scuba diving sessions with naps in the shade, lulled to sleep by the sound of the surf. And while warm, clear waters and a white-sand beach dotted with restaurants and bars would be enough for most visitors, the city has worthy historic sites that make it more than just a beach town. Exploring Nha Trang beyond its beach brings you a better understanding of not only the city's history but also that of Vietnam as a whole, from long before the nation was formed through its colonial period. Work your way forward from Buddhist temples like the 7th- to 12th-century Po Nagar Cham Towers and the late-19th-century Long Son Pagoda, to the city's early-20th-century French Gothic–style cathedral. By day's end, you'll likely find yourself drawn back to the water. Take a walk along the Hon Chong promontory, enjoying the view of the islands in Nha Trang Bay as you watch the sun melt into the sea.

Phu My, Vietnam

The real draw of the port of Phu My is actually 80 kilometers (50 miles) away, in bustling, frenetic Ho Chi Minh City. Here, motorbikes hurtle down the wide streets and crossing the road is like a real-life game of Frogger. Its hectic pace is somewhat tempered by tranquil parks, peaceful pagodas and timeless alleyways. Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is a fascinating mix of high and low, old and new. On its streets, French-colonial architecture vies for attention with glistening modern skyscrapers; sleek designer malls sit alongside bustling local markets; and glamorous fine-dining restaurants are just around the corner from street-food stalls. The best way to explore the city is on foot. Most major tourist venues are in compact District 1, which is easy to get around. Or hop on the back of a xe om (motorbike taxi) to see the city like a local. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll be swept along in the pulsating energy of it all.


City-states are rare in the present day—and none are quite like Singapore. In the 20th century, the Southeast Asian nation hurtled itself into the modern world, and it continues to expand its state-of-the-art transportation system and build its edgy skyline. Yet Singapore's urban plan wisely maintained its intimate neighborhoods, many with streets lined with colorful shophouses (a type of building unique to parts of Asia, with businesses located on their ground floors and residences above). Add the city’s mix of ethnic groups—mainly Malays, Chinese and Indians—and you get a vibrant cultural scene that attracts a cosmopolitan, international community. Singapore's food scene—which is arguably the world's most dynamic and runs the gamut from beloved street hawkers to Michelin-starred venues—would merit a trip alone, as would its never-ending shopping options. But the city is also packed with world-class museums, many designed by celebrated architects, and it hosts many major international events, such as the Formula One Grand Prix. Yet only about half of the 720-square-kilometer (278-square-mile) island is developed, which leaves plenty of room for parks and open spaces such as the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, where an old-growth forest still thrives.

Semarang, Java, Indonesia

For most visitors, the biggest thrill about arriving in Semarang is the chance to take a day trip to Borobudur, the Buddhist temple and UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates to the 8th and 9th centuries. But there's plenty to keep you busy in and around the city itself, too. Home to over 1 million people, Semarang occupies a strategic location on Java's north coast and is among Southeast Asia's most interesting ports. The city's colorful patchwork of colonial architecture, Chinese temples and striking mosques tells the story of the diverse cultures that wrote Semarang's history and speaks of its present, too. Spend some time strolling the atmospheric Outstadt, the old Dutch quarter. Lined with old Dutch warehouses and town houses, this neighborhood once held its own with Surabaya and Jakarta as one of Dutch Indonesia's most vital trading ports. Today, almost a third of the city's population is Chinese; you'll find some excellent Chinese food around town as well as important historical sites like Gedung Batu—the city's oldest Chinese temple complex on the outskirts of town—which is well worth a visit.

Benoa (Denpasar), Bali, Indonesia

Indonesia is made up of more than 13,000 islands, but even with all that competition, Bali manages to stand out. Beautiful temples and shrines of all sizes are spread across the island, tucked down narrow alleyways, hidden within the jungle or serenely presiding over scenic locations, like the dramatic Pura Tanah Lot atop a rock formation just off Bali’s western coast. Bali is well known for its arts—traditional music and dance, painting, wood and stone carvings, silver jewelry and ikat and batik textiles. The island’s artistic center is the village of Ubud, and its art markets and boutiques carry beautiful Balinese pieces to take home. When it comes to dining, whether you’re craving a burrito or satay, you can find a restaurant that serves it. Don’t leave the island, however, without sampling Balinese cuisine. Local cooking, which reflects Chinese and Indian influences, uses blends of aromatic spices to season grilled meats (though not beef—Bali is an island of Hindu culture in mostly Muslim Indonesia), fresh seafood, rice and vegetables with delicious results.

Komodo Island, Indonesia

Indonesia is easily one of the most exotic destinations on Earth. But coming into port in Komodo—located between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores, in the eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago—feels like arriving on an entirely different planet. The major draw here is, of course, Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and biosphere reserve since 1992. The region is home to roughly 5,700 Komodo dragons, which are, in fact, lizards—and the largest lizards in the world at that, growing to lengths of three meters (almost 10 feet). The dragons are best seen during tours that head to the islands of Komodo and Rinca, which along with the island of Padar make up the park. In addition to marveling at the feeding habits of the dragons (they can often be seen preying on Komodo's native Timor deer and water buffalo), visitors are impressed by the diversity of Komodo's landscapes. On the one hand, there are pristine white-sand beaches and even pink-hued ones, lapped by clear blue water. Offshore coral reefs are home to over 1,000 species of tropical fish as well as whales, dolphins, dugongs, manta rays and sea turtles. But there are also rugged and sheer cliffs here and hot and dry regions with savanna-like grasses. Prepare to feast your eyes on one of the world's truly special untamed places.

Komodo Island, Indonesia

Surrounded on three sides by the turquoise Timor Sea, the Northern Territory’s capital is closer in both distance and temperament to Southeast Asia than it is to most of Australia’s major cities. The lifestyle here is tropical, which means a relaxed atmosphere, balmy weather, fabulous fusion food and vibrant outdoor markets. This cosmopolitan city has fewer than 140,000 residents, but they include some 50 nationalities. After heavy bombing in World War II and a disastrous cyclone in 1974, Darwin has been largely rebuilt, and it's modern and well planned. In the downtown area you'll find everything from great shopping to a crocodile park. You can trace the region's dramatic history at innovative museums and gallery-hop to see indigenous art. After your sightseeing stroll, have a late lunch at one of the many excellent restaurants. The food options range from authentic Malaysian dishes like laksa, a spicy noodle soup, to a plethora of fresh seafood—mud crab, barramundi and more. You may find it hard to leave this laid-back lifestyle, but there's much more to see close by. Darwin is the gateway to two famous national parks, Kakadu and Litchfield, as well as the spectacular Aboriginal-owned Tiwi Islands. Make sure you take the time to "go bush," as they say in Australia—that is, get out of town and relax. There's no better place to do it than this glorious part of the country.

Cairns, Australia

The gateway to Australia's Great Barrier Reef and the tropical north of the country, Cairns sits on the east coast of the Cape York Peninsula in northern Queensland. This laid-back city is popular with travelers who depart from here for days of sailing, diving, snorkeling and trekking through nearby parks—a celebrated launching pad especially for those who want to explore the reef, the Daintree Rain Forest and other attractions of this part of Queensland. And what better place to start one's adventure? The residents of Cairns are welcoming, the beach life fantastic and the climate consistently sunny and warm. Wend your way due east of Cairns, and you'll find yourself on the Great Barrier Reef, the world's longest coral reef and also the world's largest living organism. Famously visible from outer space, it's often been described as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The Kuranda Scenic Railway is a different sort of wonder—an engineering marvel from the 19th century that passes through rain forests on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites before reaching the village of Kuranda. Green Island, a 6,000-year-old coral cay, is an easy day trip from Cairns with opportunities to snorkel and swim; Port Douglas, an hour north of Cairns, is a favorite with visitors thanks to its top-notch restaurants, art galleries and boutiques. Finally, hop on a six-person cable car known as the Skyway Rainforest Cableway for a bird's-eye view of the stunning natural appeal of the region.

Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australia

Once a sleepy fishing village, then an earthy-crunchy surfer hangout, Mooloolaba has poshed up along with the other towns along Australia’s Sunshine Coast. But despite being one of Queensland’s top holiday destinations, Mooloolaba manages to balance the chic boutiques with plenty of subtropical unspoiled beaches. The origin of the town’s mouthful of a name is unclear: It comes from the Aboriginal words mulu (snapper fish) or mulla (red-bellied black snake). About 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Brisbane, it sits between the Coral Sea and the Glass House Mountains. Fittingly, two of its biggest attractions celebrate the wildness beyond the town’s boundaries: Sea Life Mooloolaba and Australia Zoo, which is still run by the family of \"Crocodile Hunter\" Steve Irwin. The Esplanade, running along the city’s main beach, looks to manmade pleasures like art, fashion and organic farm-to-table cuisine. Yet across the channel, the rugged beauty resumes with a headland park and lighthouse, followed by even more sweeping and glorious coastline.

Sydney, Australia

If you want a snapshot of Australia's appeal, look no further than Sydney: The idyllic lifestyle, friendly locals and drop-dead natural beauty of this approachable metropolis and its attractions explain why the country tops so many travelers' wish lists. But Sydney is more than just the embodiment of classic antipodean cool—the city is in a constant state of evolution. A list of what to do in Sydney might start with the white-hot nightlife, with its new cocktail bars and idiosyncratic mixology dens. Inventive restaurants helmed by high-caliber chefs are dishing up everything from posh pan-Asian to Argentine street food, while the famous dining temples that put Sydney on the gastronomic map are still going strong too. The famed harbor is among the top sights—home to twin icons the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, it is the stepping-off point for some of the city's best cultural attractions and sightseeing. In one day you can sail around the harbor, get a behind-the-scenes tour of the opera house and climb the bridge, with time to spare for people-watching over a flat white at a waterfront café. Speaking of water, when you plan what to do in Sydney, you will want to include the iconic beaches, where surfers, office workers and tourists alike converge on some of the most gorgeous shoreline scenery anywhere. Bondi, Bronte and Clovelly are all within easy reach of the Central Business District, as is Manly, a charming seaside town located a short ferry ride from Circular Quay. Beyond the city you'll discover UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the chance to encounter Australia's cuddliest wildlife—a perfect way to round out your envy-inducing Sydney photo collection.

Noumea, New Caledonia

Back in the days when European countries were establishing colonies all over the globe, the standard reason for territory-grabbing was riches: gold, silver, cumin. The French took a different approach. They grabbed what was pretty and proceeded to teach the locals how to bake outstanding baguettes. In fact, once they'd gained a foothold, they ignored the palm trees, the lagoons, the beautiful sharp mountains, and began creating mini-Frances wherever they could. Nouméa is a French city with Polynesian accents, cooled by ocean breezes and set among tropical flowers the size of dinner plates. With one of the healthiest reef systems left on earth, the island’s lagoons, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, hold more than 9,000 species of fish and marine life. The Kanaks, the native people to whom the French first gave cooking lessons, already lived lives rich with fish, taro and coconuts fresh from the tree. And, although the two cultures didn’t always get along, they agreed on one thing: Stick with the prettiest real estate you can find.

Easo, Lifou, New Caledonia

Easo is the capital of Lifou, the largest and most populated of the Loyalty Islands. Home to around 10,000 Kanak people, it’s a simple, relatively undeveloped and largely unspoiled place, famed for two things: a sandy palm-fringed beach that fans out on either side of the main dock, and a very friendly atmosphere. Cruise ships are often welcomed to this island paradise with traditional tribal dances as well as a colorful local market that pops up to sell food, drinks and crafts. The island itself offers a diverse landscape that ranges from the steep cliffs of the northern coast to the pristine white-sand beaches and stunning turquoise waters along the southern coast. The island’s many walking paths and trails take in pretty churches—including the famous missionary chapel, the Chapelle Notre Dame de Lourdes—and pass scenic observation points, not to mention a wide variety of wildflowers and plants. Visitors can also tour vanilla plantations to learn about this venerable spice and its production, or make day trips to the nearby island of Tiga.

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Offering an alluring blend of nature and tranquility, the small island of Anatom (aka Aneityum) is one of the South Pacific's lesser-known but dependable tropical hotspots. The southernmost island of Vanuatu, its diminutive size (159 square kilometers, or 61 square miles) and lack of modern amenities—there's no Internet nor even running water or electricity—lends the place something of a Robinson Crusoe-esque atmosphere. Although it's possible to walk around the entire island in less than an hour, there is much to explore in a day trip. As well as taking advantage of the many soft, sandy beaches and the sparkling azure waters and coral reefs, it's possible to hike the many trails that crisscross the island's sandalwood-studded and mountainous interior. In addition, you can visit the village of Anelghowhat (or Anelcauhat) on the south side of the island, which has discarded whaling-industry equipment, former irrigation channels and the ruins of missionary John Geddie's church. It's also possible to visit picturesque Port Patrick, climb to the top of the extinct volcano Inrerow Atahein, or Inrerow Atamein (853 meters, or 2,800 feet), and admire various waterfalls dotted around the island, such as the impressive Inwan Leleghei. Off the shore of Anatom is the unpopulated Mystery Island, where cruise ship tenders moor and passengers get to spend some quality beach time on a deserted island paradise. Islanders from Anatom paddle out to meet the visitors and set up temporary shops near the dock, where they grill fish and sell a few snacks and souvenirs.

Port Denerau (Nadi), Fiji

Cruise passengers typically get only a quick fix of Fiji's largest island, Viti Levu—the South Pacific nation has a total of 333 islands, many mere specks on a map—but between meeting the local Fijian people, the modern retail complex at Port Denarau and easy access to a range of activities, a single day here can be surprisingly fulfilling. Home to both native Fijians, who are of Melanesian heritage, and descendants of indentured Indian laborers brought here more than a century ago, the country is known for both its scenic beauty and its hospitality (the exuberant greeting, Bula!, will quickly become your new favorite word). Denarau Island, a resort complex not far from the international airport at Nadi, features a Westin, Hilton, Radisson and Sofitel, along with a golf course. This makes Port Denarau a convenient gateway to pampering (a few hours in a spa, perhaps?), adventure (some of the world's best soft coral diving) and abundant nature (both rugged rain forest and cultivated gardens). From sipping kava, an intoxicating ceremonial drink, to letting the sweet chords of \"Isa Lei,\" the islands' traditional farewell song, wash over your body, mind and soul, you'll enjoy this little tease of Fijian life and leave wanting more.

Suva, Viti Levu, Fiji Islands

In the time before time, the people who would become the Fijians were shaped of wet earth, pulled from the sea on a giant fishhook and given more than 300 islands to live on. Or if you want to be a little more prosaic, the people of Fiji were part of the great Lapita migration, which began somewhere around Taiwan and headed east. The first boats to arrive stopped migrating when they found this maze of islands formed by the earth turning itself inside out with volcanoes. The new Fijians spent a couple centuries involved in internecine war and developed the bad habit of using clubs to bop all strangers. But strangers kept showing up for the simple reason that Fiji, especially the southeast coast of Viti Levu, was geographically wonderful: the kind of spot that made mariners chuck their anchors and start trying to make a living as a settler. And who knows, maybe the Fijians just had tired arms, but by the time missionaries came, powers had shifted and the bopping had stopped. Today that southeast corner of the largest island in Fiji, the city of Suva, holds three-quarters of the nation’s population. It’s also shielded by shimmering green mountains opening to a calm sea, a land lush with afternoon rains.

Apia, Upolo, Samoa

The remote Polynesian nation of Samoa, surrounded by dragonfly-bright seas, boasts a dramatic volcanic landscape with vibrant green jungles. The country has two major landmasses: Upolu, the most populous of the Samoan islands, and Savai'i, the third-largest Polynesian island. Samoa's capital, Apia, sits midway along Upolu's north coast. This sprawling metropolitan area features a waterfront promenade and Beach Road, an avenue curving along the harbor where the Royal Samoa Police Band marches and hoists the national flag at Government House on weekday mornings. Check out their sharp ensembles, which feature navy lavalava (kilts) and robin's-egg-blue dress shirts. Adventurers will want to make a splash at Palolo Deep National Marine Reserve near Apia harbor, while bookworms make a beeline to the home and grave of Robert Louis Stevenson. But perhaps the best way to experience fa'a Samoa (the Samoan Way) is by visiting the small villages scattered throughout the two islands. Here, you'll see locals still living in traditional fales—round thatched homes with no walls, all the better to enjoy the ocean breeze—and cooking on umus, "ovens" of hot stones placed in shallow holes in the ground.

Pago Pago, Tutuila, American Samoa

Pago Pago’s small size belies its historic stature and epic setting. The city—or more accurately, cluster of several fishing villages—lies along the shore of Pago Pago Harbor, which was carved from thousands of years of volcanic-crater erosion on Tutuila Island. The fjordlike harbor, one of the most stunning in the South Pacific, is bordered by steep and lush hills and dominated by Rainmaker Mountain. The protected harbor site was selected in 1872 by Commander R.W. Meade for a fuelling station for the U.S. Navy. Meade negotiated the real estate deal with a Samoan high chief and the resulting naval base at Pago Pago was in use from 1900 to 1951. Pago Pago itself is tranquil as far as capital cities go, though there is commerce and activity in the areas of Fagatogo and Utulei. The hills near the seafront are dotted with houses, while a variety of shops line the street that runs in front of the dock itself. The best views of the harbor and downtown can be had from the summit of Mount Alava in the National Park of American Samoa.

Crossing the Equator

The equator is an essential component of our planet’s geography—even though it’s just an imaginary line drawn on a map. In addition to being the widest spot on the planet—a full 43 kilometers (27 miles) wider than at the poles—this is also the planetary dividing line for the Coriolis effect, which explains why cyclones rotate clockwise north of the equator and counterclockwise south of it. It’s also the place best suited for launching spacecraft because the gravitational pull gives rocket ships an extra boost out of the stratosphere. And for a bit of light-hearted fun, if you’re onboard a craft where any of the crew are crossing this imaginary line for the first time, you’ll likely witness a King Neptune (or Crossing the Line) ceremony. This ancient naval tradition puts newbies, or “Pollywogs,” through a series of pranks and tests to prove themselves worthy of being a son or daughter of Neptune, the Roman god of the sea.

Honolulu, Hawaii, US

Sitting pretty on Oahu's south shore, the capital of Hawaii—and gateway to the island chain—is a suitably laid-back Polynesian mash-up of influences and experiences. Modern surfing may have been invented along the crescent beach of Waikiki long before the glossy high-rise hotels arrived to dominate the shoreline, but the vibe is still mellow and it's still the go-to neighborhood. These days, the city adds dining, shopping and cocktails to its repertoire, all done with a view of the iconic Diamond Head in the distance. But away from the Waikiki crowds, you get the scoop on the "real" Hawaii: brick Victorian buildings, including America's only royal palace; thriving Chinatown nightlife; sacred temple remains on distant bluffs; and the wartime memories of the attack on Pearl Harbor, including the USS Arizona Memorial. Of course, the real Hawaii can't be quantified so easily. It's everywhere—in the volcanic nature of the soil, in its lush bounteous flora, and in the positive spirit of the people, who know there's real raw magic in their gentle islands.

Lahaina, Hawaii, US

Most of Polynesia has stories of the cultural hero and demigod Maui. In Hawaii, he's given credit for fishing up the islands from the ocean floor. He's also the one who caused the sun to move more slowly and who lifted the sky so people had room beneath. It's a long and complicated tale, snaking through dozens of variations. But to the rest of the world, the word Maui just means the perfect island paradise, and Lahaina is the gateway to its most photogenic areas. So how beautiful does a place have to be to win the title of paradise of paradises? Well, start with enormous stretches of beach, some full of surfers, some off bays packed with whales, some sporting nothing but your own footprints. Toss in two volcanic craters, one with a road that takes you from sea level to 3,055 meters (10,023 feet) and through tunnels of jacaranda trees. Then there's the rain forest, which you can experience on a scenic drive so full of twists and turns and waterfalls that 83 kilometers (52 miles) can take most of the day. At the end, though, you're rewarded with yet more falls, plus cool ponds perfect for a soak. Yeah, Maui knew what he was doing when he pulled this island out of the sea.


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