Cuddle a Giant Panda with Crystal Cruises
Next Spring, Crystal Cruises is giving its guests the chance to cuddle a Giant Panda, seek solitude at the Dalai Llama's summer palace, soak up the spirituality of Tibet's holiest sites or learn about Tibetan culture through song, dance...and yak meat. The mysteries of one of the world's most isolated cultures will be on full display next spring when ultra-luxury Crystal Cruises offers guests the rare opportunity to add a five-night Extended Land Programme to Tibet onto their Asia cruise. Crystal Symphony's 9th April Hong Kong to Beijing all-China voyage and 16th April Beijing to Tokyo China and Japan sailing each offer the add-on post- and pre-cruise, respectively. Round-trip from Beijing, guests will fly first-class to Chengdu, China and Lhasa, a Tibetan city perched at 12,000 feet that literally means "place of the gods".
Highlights of the journey include:
- Chengdu's Giant Panda Research Base, where guests can safely snuggle with baby pandas while learning about the centre's hugely successful conservation and breeding efforts.
- Potala Palace, a 7th century UNESCO World Heritage Site, visible from every direction, that served as the Dalai Lama's main residence until the 1959 uprising.
- Drepung Monastery, once the world's largest monastery and home to more than 10,000 monks, seemingly precariously set on a hillside and accessible only by a steep, unpaved road.
- Jokhang Temple, the spiritual centre of Tibet, enshrining the country's most precious treasure, the original gold Sakyamuni Buddha statue dating back 1,300 years.
- Barkhor Marketplace, the site of many Tibetan protests, as well as a busy commerce centre, striking an intriguing contrast between deeply rooted spirituality and the bustling nature of market economics.
- Tibetan-style dinner, showcasing traditional song and dance while sampling a variety of yak-based dietary staples, from meat to tea.
- Sera Monastery, where guests can watch monks prepare for their monastic exams with renowned mock debates in the picturesque courtyard.
- Norbulingka, another UNESCO site that boasts distinctly Tibetan architecture and has served as the administrative and spiritual centres, as well as the summer palace, for past Dalai Lamas.
- Jinli Street in Chengdu, an ancient market dating back to the Qing Dynasty, filled with everything from the aroma of spicy barbeque and authentic Sichuan favourites to local artists' works and traditional lantern performances.
"With Tibet being such a remote, restricted and still-developing land, the advantages of visiting with Crystal are priceless," says Philip Ordever, vice president of international sales and marketing. "From complex social situations - such as how to navigate sacred sites or pointing directions with one's lips rather than one's fingers - to how to dress or simply call home, Crystal's legendary Six-Star service will be there to guide travellers every step of the way."
As with all of Crystal's Extended Land Programmes, luxury accommodation, meals and transportation for the "Timeless Tibet" programme are included in the £4,775 per person, double occupancy fare. Accommodation includes one night at the Sofitel Hotel Chengdu, three nights at the St Regis Lhasa Resort and one night at the China World Hotel Beijing.
Crystal Symphony's 13-night 9th April cruise visits Hong Kong, Shanghai, Dalian, Xiamen and Beijing, with all-inclusive fly/cruise prices starting from £4,721per person plus a one-night complimentary pre-cruise hotel stay. The 16th April 15-night itinerary calls in Beijing, Dalian and Shanghai as well as Nagasaki, Osaka, Shimizu and Tokyo with all-inclusive fly/cruise prices starting from £5,535 per person plus a one-night complimentary pre-cruise hotel stay. The cruises offer savings of £1,613 and £1,097 respectively if booked by 31st October.
Crystal's passion for creating exclusive, eye-opening luxury shore-side experiences are cornerstones of its Crystal Adventures programme, helping earn the line top ratings for two decades.
To book contact The Luxury Cruise Company