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All Things Monkey – 5th May

There was ”monkey business” on the show today as Greg and Gary took us on a journey to Nagano to see the famous Snow Monkeys.  The Jigokudani Monkey Park lies around 30km from the city of Nagano and is home to a large population of Japanese Macaques, commonly referred to as ”Snow Monkeys”.  During the winter months the monkeys descend from the surrounding steep cliffs and forest to sit in the warm waters of the onsen before returning to the security of the forests in the evenings.  No (non-human) primate lives in a colder climate.  Travel Masters will be taking a small group of lucky travellers to see this charismatic monkeys in January 2019 as an optional extension to the ever popular Harbin Ice & Snow Festival in China.  If you would like to join them in this amazing combination tour, click here for more details

Now lets talk cruising, and although Jigokudani is not on any cruise itinerary, Japan certainly is.  We featured a Japan cruise last week, onboard Diamond Princess (click here for the offer), and we have another one this week, but includes Japan as just a small portion of an amazing trip through the Indian Ocean and South East Asia.

You start with the flight from Australia to Dubai on the 29th March 2019 and then on to board the wonderful MSC Splendida.   Over the next 29 days, MSC Splendida will carry you in stylish luxury to the most desirable cruise destinations in the world, while being a beautiful destination in her own right.  You’ll love the live music and the extraordinary variety of designer-themed bar sand restaurants with many gourmet choices to explore, from authentic Mediterranean specialities to spicy Tex-Mex. Complete the night with a world-class show in The Strand Theatre, a winning streak in the Royal Palm Casino or dancing in the Club 33 Disco.   There’s also a vast array of sports facilities including four swimming pools, a jogging track, squash court and ultramodern gym.

MSC Splendida

After the MSC Splendida spends the night in Dubai you set sail for Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.  While there you may explore the Emirates Palace hotel and the even more spectacular Sheikh Zayed Mosque, while the various attractions of Yas Island, home to the vast Ferrari World theme park, lie just down the road.   The MSC Beach Experience on Sir Bani Yas means relax. It includes a delicious barbecue lunch of succulent burgers and other grilled delights, fresh salads and vegetables, pastries and fruit. And you can enjoy cocktails, ice-cold beers and soft drinks from the island’s six bars.

Stepping back in time, you visit Khasab in Oman.  Be sure to visit the Khasab Fortress, take a journey to the nearby town of Bukha or a relaxing few hours on an Arabian Dhow.  Muscat, the Capital City of Oman will provide you with a fascinating excursion opportunity to see the Grand Mosque, Sultans Palace and an intriguing walk around the Old Souk.

Muscat and the National Museum

Crossing the Indian Ocean you will arrive in Cochin, India for an overnight berth.  Spreading across islands and promontories between the Arabian Sea and the backwaters, Kochi (long known as Cochin) is Kerala’s prime tourist destination.  In Fort Cochin, spice markets, Chinese fishing nets, a synagogue, a Portuguese palace, India’s first European church and seventeenth-century Dutch homes can all be found within an easy walk. As you approach by cruise ship, the waterfront, with its sloping red-tiled roofs and ranks of peeling, pastel-coloured godowns (warehouses), offers a view that can have changed little in centuries.

Leaving India, and another sea day in the Indian Ocean is yours to enjoy before you arrive in South East Asia for the first of many ports of call in the region.  Penang, Malaysia is where the British established their first Malay port in the late eighteenth century, laying the foundations for the Georgetown of today, a fascinating blend of colonial, Indian, Malay and – especially – Chinese and Peranakan heritage.   the opportunity to visit this city that has seen a renaissance since its central old quarter, along with that of Melaka, were jointly made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, and makes a wonderful base to see all of Penang.


Port Klang is the gateway to Kuala Lumpur, your chance to take a selfie in front of the famous twin Petronas Towers.  Explore the colonial core around Merdeka Square and the adjacent enclaves of Chinatown and Little India, plus, to the east, the restaurants, shops and nightlife of the so-called Golden Triangle, the modern heart of downtown Kuala Lumpur.

Two days in Singapore is a perfect length of time to sample the Lion City.  Each of the original ethnic enclaves of Singapore boasts a fair amount of period architecture in the form of neatly restored shophouses, and retains its own distinct flavour: Little India has its garland-sellers and curry houses, Chinatown its calligraphers and fortune-tellers, while Arab Street is home to cluttered stores selling fine cloths and curios.  Optional excursions could see you spend time in the National Museum, Heritage Centre and Baba House, you could let your hair down on Sentosa and visit Universal Studios or simply lose yourself in the shopping utopia that is Orchard Road.


Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam is a fury of sights and sounds.  Few corners of the city afford respite from the cacophony of construction work casting up new office blocks and hotels with logic-defying speed.  the simple pleasure of absorbing its flurry of activity is something best done from the seat of a cyclo or a roadside café.   Visit the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Jade Emperor Pagoda to get a feel for the history of what was once referred to as Saigon.

If Singapore had a rival to the most electric city in Asia it would have to be Hong Kong – and like Singapore this cruise will give you 2 days to explore this city.   You may choose to visit Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, the Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island, Victoria Peak, Causeway Bay, Disneyland……….there is SO MUCH TO DO!

After the hectic speed of these spellbinding cities, you will crave peace and tranquillity…and what better place to provide this than Japan.  You sail into the Okinawan port of Naha, and island in the Ryukyu Islands.   You may decide to wander around the UNESCO World Heritage Shikinaen Gardens and the Shuri Castle, or take an excursion out to Ryukyumura Village to watch craftsmen create traditional pottery, clothing and blankets while local musicians play their sanshin guitars.

Okinawa, Japan

Finally you arrive in Yokohama, the port for Tokyo.  Once again the MSC Splendida will spend an overnight stay in port, giving you the full time to experience one of the worlds greatest cities.  MSC will have a choice of excursions for you to chose from, covering Tokyo, Yokohama or even out to Hakone and Mt Fuji.

Your cruise is over, and its time to fly home.  Of course you can stay a little longer in Japan and maybe take a trip out to Kyoto – home to Geisha and Tea Ceremonies, up to Sapporo on the island of Hokkaido or to Nara for the temple and roaming deer.  Speak to the guys at Travel Masters and they can arrange it all for you.

This is an amazing 30 day voyage on board MSC Splendida, all the way from Dubai to Japan.  Inclusive of your flights from Australia and transfers between the airport and ship……

….all from just $5,299 per person!!!!  Upgrades to Ocean View cabin from $25pp per day, and Balcony cabins from $50pp per day!

Call Travel Masters on 1800 672 988 to grab that cabin!