My wish to go on a cruise one day is no secret, and I am referring to a vacation on board a cruise ship. Recently, my attention was brought to a different type of cruises to secret paradises, which made me refocus my target. I have, of course been on numerous river cruises around the country. However, these secret cruises to explore remote paradises are an upgrade to those that I have experienced thus far.
And this is where Secret Retreats come into the picture, where close to 100 independently owned boutique hotels, restaurants and cruises have combined to offer unique opportunities to voyage Asian waters far from the usual cruising.
Secret Cruises curated collection of vessels combines the epitome of luxury travel with exclusive discovery encountering simple villages along timeless waterways, exploring deserted tropical islands and navigating lush rainforests teeming with wildlife.
Jungle cruises in Borneo voyage through three different Kalimantan Rivers aboard a choice of vessels operated by WOW Borneo. By working with local Dayak people, the cruises offer an intimate encounter with Kalimantan’s forests, wildlife (including an orangutan rehabilitation sanctuary), black water lake systems and traditional villages.
A fleet of four vessels presents options for private charter or join-in cruises.
The Spirit of Kalimantan is a traditional Kalimantan barge with three cabins available for private charter.
Ruhui Rahayu is a rustic 22-metre long boat with just one cabin.
Sekonyer, launched in August 2017, is a converted traditional local klotok vessel with three luxurious air conditioned cabins and a sublime upper viewing deck used for join-in cruises.
Rahai’i Pangun is a converted traditional river boat with six cabins also for group cruising.
For discovering fabled historic and spiritual sites like Vat Phou in Laos, Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Bagan in Myanmar, Secret Retreats offers a fleet of four vessels for voyages along both Asian Mighty Rivers, the Mekong and the Irrawaddy.
Designed to reflect the British colonial spirit of India with its hand-painted walls and Hindu motifs, The Jahan cruises between Saigon and Siem Reap, home to the world famous Angkor Wat. Featuring a sundeck with large Jacuzzi, spa, gym, observatory, elegant lounge, restaurant and outdoor bar, each of the 26 cabins has its own private balcony.
On a leisurely 3-day Mekong journey between Pakse and Champasak in Southern Laos, The Vat Phou bears witness to one of the region’s most remarkable treasures, the UNESCO-recognised Vat Phou Temple, considered the birthplace of Khmer architecture. Featuring 12 cabins, the river cruise passes through timeless landscapes, including the stunning “4,000 Islands” and Southeast Asia’s largest waterfalls at Pha Pheng.
Along the northern reaches of the Mekong, the custom-built luxury river boat Luang Say cruises between Huay Xai and Luang Prabang on a two-day voyage with overnight accommodation in Laotian riverbank bungalows at Luang Say Lodge. This journey includes stops at villages to discover how local handicrafts and rice whiskey are made, as well as Pak Ou Caves, which contain thousands of Buddha images.
Cruising between the fabled plain of temples of Bagan and Mandalay, the elegant 23-cabin Anawrahta offers the finest on board experience along Myanmar’s Irrawaddy. Built to resemble a British colonial paddle steamer, the vessel takes guests back in time to an era of bygone elegance, with gleaming white rails, polished lacquer and intricate woodwork.
Sailing through the Indonesian archipelago is a true adventure with mostly private charters where itineraries can be tailored according to personal interests. Secret Cruises offers five options to explore Eastern Indonesia.
The 5-cabin Silolona and 3-cabin Si Datu Bua are converted traditional Indonesian phinisi boats, as sailed by the Bugis seafarers from South Sulawesi. Complete with exquisite culinary experiences and a well-equipped dive facility, they cruise East Indonesia from April to November, and up in the Andaman archipelago from December to March.
Alila Purnama is a luxurious 5-cabin phinisi providing modern and elegant accommodation for up to ten passengers to cruise around Komodo, Flores and Raja Ampat.
Blending authentic Indonesian tradition with contemporary allure designed by a French interior architect, the 7-cabin magnificent 32-metre yacht, Nyaman Perjuangan, was launched in May 2017, cruising around Komodo National Park.
Salila Expeditions offer adventure seekers seafaring voyages through remote parts of Indonesia in the comfort of a luxury private 10-cabin yacht, from Flores in the Lesser Sunda Islands laden with beaches, to the aromatic ‘Spice Islands’ of the Moluccas, famous for their nutmeg, cloves and mace.
“Secret Cruises define a new way to explore Asia. With the complete privacy of chartered yachts, soft adventure experiences and exploration of remote areas, they offer unique experiences for guests far from the well-trodden tourist trails,” said Secret Retreats Managing Director Stéphane Junca.
Complete conditions and schedules for all cruises are available on https://www.secret-retreats.com/cruises or through the Secret Retreats Concierge team: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image credit: Secret Retreats
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