Head to head: Asia’s premium cruise lines


It is a new age of cruising in Asia and long gone are tacky cabins, cruises to nowhere and garish entertainment. Nothing illustrates this more than the launch of Dream Cruises, Asia’s first Premium line.

Premium stands between family value and luxury – and is a great way to get the best of both worlds, in our view.

Cruise&Travel Asia compared three premium cruise lines on offer in Asia  – Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and the brand new Dream Cruises (launching in November).

All three offer plush staterooms, private VIP areas, a multitude of restaurants and dining areas and amazing entertainment, and duty-free shopping options. See how they compare.

Princess Cruises
Princess Cruises is one of the world’s most popular brands. Whether you choose a short cruise from Singapore to explore Southeast Asia, or you’re after a longer cruise around the Japanese archipelago, there is something for everyone. Out of the Princess Cruise fleet, the Diamond Princess, Sapphire Princess, Sun Princess and Dawn Princess frequent the Asian waters. The Majestic Princess, built specifically for the Chinese market will be launched next year.

Cabins: Princess Cruises has a number of cabin types, suited to all budgets. For those with a tighter budget, the interior staterooms have plush bedding and 100 per cent Egyptian cotton sheets so you’ll have a five-star snooze. You can opt for oceanview staterooms which has a view of the sea. The ultimate cabin onboard most Princess Cruises’ ships is the Premium Mini Suite with Balcony. It has a separate seating area, balcony with patio, a bathroom with tub and shower as well as a luxurious queen sized bed.

Food: Prepare yourself for a sumptuous feast as Princess Cruises has great specialty restaurants. The line has partnered with Australian celebrity chef, Curtis Stone to create Share. You’ll find charcuteries, handmade pastas and much more. You can also fine on Italian fare at Sabatini’s, steaks at Sterling Steakhouse and refined Japanese at Kai Sushi.

Facilities: The cruise line has a focus on world-class spa facilities at the Lotus Spa and Diamond Princess has the only Japanese onset-style bathhouse on a cruise ship. For those who want to work out, there are Zumba classes or you can test your gold skills at the nine-hole putting green. Movies Under the Stars are shown every evening on the top deck, complete with popcorn.

Princess Cruises also has great shopping onboard where guests can buy luxury cosmetics, jewellery, watches and much more. All Princess ships have a casino where you can play table games or the slots.

Sail for three days from Singapore onboard the Diamond Princess to Malaysia. The cruise calls at Penang and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia before heading back to Singapore. The cruise is priced from US$589 per person, twin share. For more information, click here.

Royal Caribbean
The American-based line has made a bold move to take over the cruise market with its super-sized ships. This April, Singapore welcomes Ovation of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the southern hemisphere. But other ships like Mariner of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas are also known for its great onboard activities and exotic itineraries.

Cabins: Onboard Quantum-class ships, guests can choose from Virtual Balcony interior staterooms that give you a real-time view of the ocean and destinations, to the decadent Royal Loft Suites, which have one bedroom and two bathrooms. This two-deck-high stateroom has a separate living and dining room and a large private balcony with whirlpool and dining area.

Food: Royal Caribbean offers local dishes like congee and stir-fried noodles for breakfast and in the main dining room, kung pao chicken, gado-gado and tom-yum soup. On Quantum-class ships, guests can sample food from British celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver who partnered with the line in 2014 to open Jamie’s Italian. Guests can also get a steak from Chops Grille Steakhouse, or antipasti from Giovanni’s Table or fusion Japanese Izumi.

Facilities: Royal Caribbean’s new Quantum-class ship has amazing technological activities like the North Star, an elevated glass capsule, Two70 transformation venue, Zip Line, surf and skydiving simulators, ice-rink and bumper cars. There is also fabulous duty-free shopping in the Royal Promenade.

Sail for a three-night tour of Malaysia onboard the futuristic Ovation of the Seas for US$820.50 per person, twin share. The cruise departs Singapore and visits Kuala Lumpur. For more information, click here.

Dream Cruises
Launching at the end of the year, Dream Cruises is the first premium cruise line dedicated to the Asian market. Owned by gaming and hospitality conglomerate Genting Hong Kong, Dream Cruises will launch its first ship the Genting Dream in November 2016. World Dream will be launched in 2017.

Cabins: Guests who book on the Genting Dream can book a comfortable Inside Statetoom with the option of twin or double beds. Or if you want to spend a bit more, Genting Dream offer Verandah Staterooms which have a spacious design and balcony. There are also 100 interconnecting staterooms for families and groups.

Food: The new Genting ships will have over 35 restaurants and bars making it a foodie’s paradise. Some of the highlights include the Genting Palace which serves fine dining Chinese cuisine, the Umi Uma Japanese restaurants which are designed by Nobu, Makan Makan which serves traditional Southeast Asian street food and many other food offerings.

Facilities: The Dream Cruises ships will have fantastic spa facilities. The Aeris Spa series that will have eastern and western treatments. There will also be a bowling alley, karaoke rooms as well as the famous Zouk nightclub which will have special pool parties. There will also be dedicated kids clubs as well as a rock climbing wall and a golf green.

You can sail on Genting Dream from Hong Kong and sail to Nansha and Sanya in China as well as Da Nang and Halong Bay in Vietnam. The cruise is priced from US$3,700 per couple. For more information, click here.