84 Small Ship Cruise Lines Covered and Counting...

East Asia

China is a vast country, and a major draw is a cruise along Yangtze River through the Three Gorges combined with to a land itinerary. Oceangoing ships cruise coastal ports that often encompass Japan, South Korea, and Southeast Asia. Japan is where history and ancient customs are revered along with modern, out-of-the-box thinking. The draws are shinto shrines and temples, stunning formal gardens, samurai culture, pearl cultivation, traditional arts, museums and peace parks dedicated to the atomic bomb attacks of WWII. For South Korea, two major attractions are the UNESCO World Heritage site at Kyongju for the 1,000-year-old capital of the Shilla Dynasty, while Jeju Island is covered in forests, craters and lava tubes. Taiwan and the Philippines are on a limited number of itineraries.


Travelers have the choice of an oceangoing cruise calling at such ports as Qingdao, Shanghai, Xiamen, and Hong Kong or combining a China land trip with a 3- to 7-day Yangtze River cruise.


Long and thin, cruises are an ideal way to explore the string of Japanese islands to visit traditional towns and cities, castles, shrines, fabulous gardens (best in the spring and summer), and Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two Atomic bomb cities.

Russian Far East

Cruises crossing the northern North Pacific between Alaska and Japan may venture to remote parts of the Russian Far East (Siberia), combining islands and the mainland, to visit relatively isolated ethnic groups, wild landscapes, and wildlife.

South Korea

East Asian cruise itineraries call at Busan on the southeast coast for its street life, huge produce markets, temples and burgeoning modern city sights and access to the Silla Empire’s Buddhist temple complex at Gyeongju. The port and beach resort of Incheon is the gateway to Seoul, the country’s high-tech capital.


The port of Keelung gives easy access to Taipei, the capital, and its National Palace Museum, bustling markets, Chinese temples and nearby mountain terrain and hot springs. In the southwest, the burgeoning modern city of Kaohsiung, a huge commercial port, offers riverside walks and lively markets.