Passage to India: A Cruise from Singapore to Mumbai
Plus a Journey through Rajasthan
Sail from cosmopolitan Singapore and follow in the wake of early explorers as you sail exotic seas to Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and the exotic ports of India. Explore India’s Golden Triangle with visits to Jaipur, Agra with its Taj Mahal, and the bustling capital city of New Delhi.
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For centuries, the treasures of Asia beckoned European explorers and traders who sought to discover the riches of these exotic lands. From the cosmopolitan city-state of Singapore, a kaleidoscope of history and culture, set sail aboard the M.V. Aegean Odyssey for Malaysia and beyond. Discover the historic city of Malacca before sailing on to fascinating Malaysian state of Penang. Cruise to the island of Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, to admire ancient temples and learn about its British colonial heritage. Cruise along the Malabar Coast of India to see Cochin, Mangalore, Goa and Mumbai, where you’ll leave the ship. Travel on to explore India’s Golden Triangle and observe the stunning beauty of Jaipur the largest city in Rajasthan, the imposing Taj Mahal in Agra and the bustling capital city of New Dehli.
As a Smithsonian Journeys guest, you will receive two exclusive private lectures by the expert onboard. Additionally, there will be a dedicated Smithsonian Journeys travel director, who will handle every detail, allowing you to enjoy your trip to the fullest. You will also be invited to two private receptions just for Smithsonian Journeys travelers.
Day 1-2 – Depart the U.S.; Cross the International Date Line
Travelers depart their gateway city and cross the International Date Line as they fly to Singapore. Meals appropriate to the time of day will be served in flight.
Day 3 — Singapore
Arrive in Singapore and transfer to the deluxe InterContinental Hotel Singapore. After checking-in, there is time to relax and explore the hotel. Gather this evening with fellow travelers for a Welcome Reception.
Day 4 — Singapore
An orientation excursion of Singapore begins with a drive around the Civic District past the Padang, the Cricket Club, Parliament House, Supreme Court and City Hall. Singapore was part of British Malaya and after World War II, Singapore became an independent nation and republic. In the Kampong Glam district, admire the Sultan’s Mosque with its unmistakable golden dome. Continue to the heart of Chinatown and see the streets where old traditional buildings are lovingly restored into restaurants, teahouses and shops. Little India completes the cultural kaleidoscope with its bustling streets showcasing aromatic and exotic spices, vegetable vendors and busy curry houses. The afternoon is free of planned activities so that you can follow your own path and explore on your own. (B)
Day 5 – Singapore and the M.V. Aegean Odyssey
After a leisurely morning depart on an excursion of Singapore city highlights. Begin with a cruise on the Singapore River. Sail beneath the sweeping arches of Esplanade Bridge to arrive at Merlion Park. Continue by coach to see historic buildings in the heart of the Colonial District. Visit Thian Hock Keng Temple a Hokkien temple dedicated to the goddess of the sea. Conclude the tour with a stroll through the National Orchid Garden then transfer to the pier to embark the M.V. Aegean Odyssey. (B, D)
Day 6 — Malacca
Discover the history of Malacca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as you visit a ruined Portuguese Fort, picturesque Dutch Square and St Paul’s Hill, that boasts its sweeping view of the straits that gave this city its name. Malay history is said to have begun with the founding of Malacca in 1403. This once-sleepy fishing village became a stopover for traders from Asia and Europe. Continue to the oldest part of Malacca to visit the Nanking-style Cheng Hoong Teng Temple, one of the oldest Chinese temples in Southeast Asia. Afterward, you will have time to stroll along Jonker Street, an intriguing area dotted with antique shops, craft stores and colorful restaurants. This evening join the Captain of the ship at a Welcome Aboard Reception. (B, L, D)
Day 7 — Penang
A choice of included excursions is available today.
Round Island Excursion
Set out for, the site where Capt. Francis Light first landed. Built to provide the town protection against the local pirates and marauding Frenchmen, its cannon still points towards the North Channel. Next, explore the Chew Jetty, an early Chinese settlement established by immigrant workers, where houses are built on stilts perched over the water. Continue with a drive along the coastal road to see Penang Bridge, the longest bridge in Southeast Asia en route to Snake Temple. Snakes, mainly Wagler pit vipers, believed to be the disciples of the deity Chor Soo Kong are kept in the temple. The incense smoke keeps them docile.
Georgetown Highlights Excursion
Drive through the streets of the city and along the Road of Harmony, which is always bustling with activity. Lining this road are various places of worship including the Anglican St. George’s Church, the Chinese Kuan Yin Temple and the Kapitan Keling Mosque. Arrive at Penang Museum, which displays a fine collection of old photographs, maps, charts and other historical artifacts. Continue to the Thai temple of Wat Chayamangkalaram, which houses a 108-foot-long figure of the Reclining Buddha, and the Burmese Temple across the road. Continue on Gurney Drive, perhaps one of the most well known places in Penang. Often referred to as The New Esplanade Gurney Drive is a deluge of hawker delights and exciting restaurants that come alive at night. Visit the Craft Batik Workshop, where the intricate and timeless art of printing cloth with wax and dyes is demonstrated. Escape from the hustle and bustle of city life to the tranquil and green surroundings of the Botanic Garden. In a deep valley at the feet of jungle clad hills, the gardens are bound by tropical forest and cascading streams. You might see wild monkeys as they roam freely in their natural habitat. (B, L, D)
Day 8 — At Sea
Delight in a full day of cruising the Indian Ocean. Attend lectures by expert speakers. Take the time to relax, read a favorite book or join other passengers in one of the planned shipboard activities. This evening join Smithsonian Journeys Travelers at an exclusive Reception. (B, L, D)
Day 9 — At Sea
Enjoy the planned activities offered aboard ship today. You might visit the 1,000-volume library that features books, maps and other travel materials particular to this cruise as well as other fascinating places. (B, L, D)
Day 10 — At Sea
The day is at leisure to enjoy the activities aboard ship as you continue your cruise through exotic seas to Colombo, Sri Lanka. Visit the fitness center, pamper yourself at the spa or watch an Asian cooking demonstration. (B, L, D)
Day 11 — Colombo
Explore the vibrant Sri Lankan capital of Colombo. Visit historic Wolvendaal Church, the oldest protestant church in use. Continue to the Pettah Bazaar and renowned Independence Square, where this former British colony — then called Ceylon — was given self-rule in 1948. Admire the colorful murals and statues of the Lord Buddha at the Asokaramaya Temple, built more than a century ago. End the tour at Sri Lanka’s largest museum, the Colombo National Museum, which houses an impressive collection of historic treasures. (B, L, D)
Day 12 — Colombo
A choice of included excursions will be offered today.
Kandy & the Temple of the Tooth Excursion
Begin with a scenic drive through the stunning countryside of Sri Lanka en route to the Temple of the Tooth, which guards a tooth of Buddha that, according to legend, was taken as Buddha lay on his funeral pyre then was smuggled into Sri Lanka. Explore the temple, one of the most treasured sites in Buddhism. Continue to the Peradeniya Botanical Garden, which occupies about 150 acres and boasts an impressive collection of palms and orchids, among other flora.
Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage Excursion
Admire the sweeping views of Sri Lanka as you drive to Pinnawela. Here, the Department of Wildlife Conservation has established the elephant orphanage to protect un-weaned baby elephants found wandering in the forests. From five baby elephants in 1975, the sanctuary has grown into the world’s largest herd of captive elephants. Watch the elephants bathing and socializing at the Oya River. Be sure to bring a camera to capture the antics of these majestic animals. Afterward, see the elephants up close and perhaps watch some of the elephants being fed.
(B, L, D)
Day 13 — At Sea
Settle into a deck chair and enjoy a glorious day of cruising toward the port of Cochin, India. This evening gather with Smithsonian Journeys Travelers at a private, pre-dinner Reception. (B, L, D)
Day 14 — Kochi
Centuries of invaders, traders and rulers have shaped the culture and of the Indian state of Kerala's premier city of Kochi. Palaces, mosques, churches, and an active synagogue mark the periods in its history. Begin exploring with a drive to Ft. Kochi, located in the historic center, and visit the oldest European church in India, St. Francis’ Church, where the explorer Vasco da Gama was once interred. Just outside the church, see the bamboo and teak poles of the city's often photographed Chinese fishing nets and experience the lively Fish Market. Continue to the Mattancherry District where the old merchant houses were once home to a flourishing Jewish community. Visit the Dutch Palace, built by the Portuguese in 1555, and renovated by the Dutch in 1663. Tour a Synagogue, built in 1568, with its hand-painted blue-and-white tiles from China and sparkling, oil-burning chandelier from Belgium. Stroll along historic streets, lined with spice and antique shops. The first wave of Jewish migration to Kochi dates to the 1st century but long before that it is said the ships of King Solomon traded here. (B, L, D)
Day 15 — Mangalore
Discover the tile-roofs, cashew gardens, Hindu shrines and Catholic churches of Mangalore where Indian and Portuguese heritage intertwines. Fronted by the Arabian Sea and backed by the Western Ghat mountains the city takes its name from the goddess Mangaladevi. For centuries Mangalore has been an important seaport on the Malabar Coast. Today, the area exports 75% of India's coffee and the bulk of its cashews. Visit a local processing plant and learn about this popular nut, brought here in the 16th century by the Portuguese. Continue to the beautiful Hindu Temple dedicated to the Goddess Shiva. The founder, Narayana Guru, is considered a saint for his work on behalf of India's most downtrodden and the temple is a site of daily pilgrimage. When you visit St. Aloysius Chapel, you'll see why it is so often compared to the Sistine Chapel. Remarkable biblical frescoes and oil paintings cover virtually every square inch of the interior ceiling and walls. Created over a period of two years by the Italian artist, Brother Antonio Moscheni, this church is one of India's hidden treasures. (B, L, D)
Day 16 — Marmagao
There’s a choice of included excursions today.
Temples & Spices Excursion
Depart the ship and head out of this historic Portuguese city to see large, elegant homes dating back to colonial times and pass numerous brilliant green rice paddies. In the lush valleys and forests of Ponda are hidden a number of Hindu temples, built in the 17th and 18th centuries by people who tried to practice their traditional religion away from the persecution of the Portuguese. Set on wooded hill, and surrounded by farmland, Mangueshi Temple is considered the most important Hindu Temple in Goa. Admire a seven-story octagonal tower, full of niches where oil lamps are placed during festivals and important occasions. Explore nearby Sahakari Plantation for a guided walking tour by an expert through the world of black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, nutmeg and other spices.
Excursion of Old Goa & Latin Quarter Walk
Marvel at two magnificent churches of Old Goa. St. Cajetan Chuch, modeled on St. Peter's in Rome, has a hidden crypt where in 1992 the bodies of former Portuguese governors were found in lead coffins waiting to be sent back to Lisbon and the 16th-century Basilica of Bom Jesus, where St. Francis Xavier, Goa’s patron saint, is entombed in a marble mausoleum. Both churches are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Continue on a walking tour of the capital’s fascinating Latin Quarter. Some of India’s most architecturally beautiful places can be found in Old Goa. Continue the tour with a short orientation drive through Panjim, the relaxed state capital. Later, walk through one of the city’s most charming neighborhoods, the Fontainhas Latin Quarter built by the Portuguese. Before dinner, gather with fellow shipmates for a Farewell Reception. (B, L, D)
Day 17 — Mumbai
Immerse yourself in the swirling contrasts of India's economic powerhouse, home to nearly 20 million people, global corporations and the Bollywood film industry. See the colonial heritage as you drive from the pier past such Victorian landmarks as Rajabhai Clock Tower, Mumbai University, the High Court, Crawford Market and the marvelous Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. Stop at Dhobi Ghat to watch men flogging clothes in the stone tubs of an immense open-air hand laundry. Visit the charming residence of Mahatma Gandhi, Mani Bhawan, a museum dedicated to the leader's life and work. Capture the flavor of spiritual India at the ISKON Krishna Temple. Then ascend Malabar Hill to the Hanging Gardens for panoramas of the entire city. Continue past the Parsi Tower of Silence to explore India's ancient heritage at the Prince of Wales Museum with its lovely gardens, grand loggias and fine collection of sculptures, miniatures and Eastern art. On the return, enjoy a photo stop before the 262-foot-high Gateway of India, overlooking the Arabian Sea, built to mark the 1911 visit of King George V and Queen Mary. (B, L, D)
Day 18 — Mumbai and Jaipur
Disembark the ship and transfer to the Mumbai airport. On the way see and visit the Dabbawalas that deliver cooked lunches to thousands of workers without aid of computers or other modern technology. Depart on an afternoon flight to Jaipur the capital of the state of Rajasthan. Accommodations are reserved at the Jai Mahal Palace Hotel. In early evening visit the Birla Temple and attend a ritual prayer ceremony or “aarti.” (B, L)
Day 19 — Jaipur
Begin your day by traveling to Galtaji, a shrine overlooking Jaipur’s eastern city limits. Also known as the Monkey Shrine lively macaques populate this shrine, illustrating the curious mixture of human religious devotion and acceptance of animal neighbors that is typically Indian. Travel by Jeep for a visit to the Amber Fort whose massive gateways, pillar-studded pavilions and palaces project the power and wealth of the Mughals. Then immerse yourself in modern-day India by exploring the local bazaar and return to the hotel in a tuk-tuk or motorized rickshaw. The balance of the day is free to follow your own path. (B, L)
Day 20 — Jaipur to Agra
Board the Shatabdi Express Train for Bharatpur. After arrival, drive to Fatehpur Sikri a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the imperial capital of Emperor Akbar who ruled during the later half of the 16th-century. The exceptionally preserved ruins of Fatehpur Sikri include the Palace and the Royal Mosque, where Akbar prayed for an heir. It happened that he would have three sons and Akbar chose Sikri as his first capital. Built from sandstone quarried on site, its finest monuments include the Diwan-e-Khas and the Turkish Sultan’s House. Continue to the Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Road Agra for an overnight. The epitome of Mughal architecture the Taj Mahal a World Heritage Site offers stunningly simple proportions. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan as the tomb for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal no expense was spared for this monument to love that took 20,000 workers to complete. (B, L, D)
Day 21 — Agra and New Delhi
In early morning view the magnificent Taj Mahal at first light. After breakfast visit the remarkable Agra Fort a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Of the original 500 buildings only the Jahangiri Mahal or women’s quarters still stand. It was constructed in a local style to suit the needs of Akbar’s Hindu wives. Enjoy striking views of the Taj Mahal and the fort’s powerful Mughal-style colonnades. Continue from Agra to Delhi where you will check in at the luxurious Taj Palace Hotel. (B)
Day 22 — New Delhi
Today visit the Red Fort, which was built in the 17th- century, when the new Mughal leader moved the capital from Agra to Delhi. This opulent architectural masterpiece, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, blends Islamic, Persian, Timurid and Hindu elements, and it is named for its imposing sandstone walls. Board cycle rickshaws and ride along the Chandni Chowk main road to visit Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque, whose courtyard can accommodate 20,000 people. Next, travel to Rajghat Gandhi’s final resting place, where he was cremated after his assassination in 1948, and see his memorial and its eternal flame. This evening gather with new friends and fellow Smithsonian Travelers for a private Farewell Reception. (B, L)
Day 23 — New Delhi and Return to the U.S.
Visit the red sandstone Humayun’s Tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the finest Mughal building in Delhi. It also was the prototype for the Taj Mahal. Then depart for Nizamuddin Durga, a peaceful oasis in the midst of a busy neighborhood. Marvel at the shrine’s elaborate marble screens as you enjoy a Performance of Sufi Devotional Music. Depending on your flight schedule, there will be time to pursue individual interests. Please note that some homeward flights may be scheduled to depart New Delhi after 12 o’clock midnight making the departure date March 13.
Note: Itinerary sequence and/or included tours and scheduled events may change due to operational consideration.