Passage to India
Sail from bustling Singapore and follow in the footsteps of early explorers to Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and the exotic ports of India. Discover 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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Sail the Spice Route to lush tropical islands, sacred caves and temples, colonial outposts and modern cities. Sample fine cuisine and shopping in sparkling Singapore. On Sumatra, visit an orangutan rehabilitation center and see the terraced rice paddies en route to Lake Toba in the volcanic highlands. Relax on Phuket's famous Patong Beach and shop the bustling Town Market, followed by three easygoing days at sea that bring you to Sri Lanka's famous elephant orphanage and splendid Buddhist monasteries and cave temples. Then it's on to India, a land big enough to embrace the peaceful Kerala backwaters near Cochin and buzzing Mumbai. Take advantage of your cruise to India and join an optional 6-night, land-based extension to India’s “Golden Triangle,” including the Taj Mahal. During your cruise enjoy Azamara Journey’s well-appointed spa and wellness facilities, complimentary amenities, inclusive gratuities and friendly international staff who are second to none.
February 19-20 – Depart the U.S.; Cross the International Dateline
Travelers depart their gateway city and cross the International Dateline as they fly to Singapore. Meals appropriate to the time of day will be served in flight.
February 21 - 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.
February 22 - 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)
February 23 – Singapore and the MV 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 MV Aegean Odyssey. (B,D)
February 24 - Malacca
Explore the history of Malacca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site during an excursion that will take you to St. Paul’s Hill to see the sweeping view of the strategic Straits of Malacca. This once-sleepy fishing village became a stopover for traders from Asia and Europe. Centuries of colonization influenced its culture and heritage. Begin with a visit to Dutch Square and see the 17th-century Stadthuys, once a governor's residence and now a History Museum, or the Istana Melaka Museum. Visit St Paul's Church, built to honor St Francis Xavier, who brought Christianity to Malacca. At Porto de Santiago, view the remains of a Portuguese Fortress whose thick walls once encircled the entire hill. Continue to the oldest part of Malacca to visit the Cheng Hoong Teng Temple, one of the oldest Chinese temples in Southeast Asia. Afterward, there'll be time to stroll toward 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)
February 25 - Penang
See the many facets of Penang, starting in Georgetown, a historic city on the Straits of Malacca and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Begin with a visit to the Chew Jetty an early Chinese settlement established by immigrant workers, where houses are built on stilts perched over the water. Next there’s a photo stop at Ft. Cornwallis, where Captain Francis Light landed in 1786. Visit the Thai temple Wat Chayamangkalaram with its Reclining Buddha covered in golf leaf. For centuries this region has produced colorful batik fabric. See a demonstration of this unique art form at a local batik workshop. The tour concludes at the Penang Museum with its collection of old photographs, maps and historic artifacts. See a profusion of architectural styles along the "road of harmony," home to the Anglican St. George's Church, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy Temple and the Kapitan Kling Mosque. (B,L,D)
February 26 - At Sea
Delight in a full day of cruising the Indian Ocean. Attend lectures by expert speakers scheduled on days the ship is at sea. Take the time to relax, read a favorite book or join other passengers in one of the planned shipboard activities. This evening join Smithsonian Travelers at an exclusive Reception. (B,L,D)
February 27 - 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 in Smithsonian’s world. (B,L,D)
February 28 - 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)
February 29 - Colombo
Experience the astonishing blend of modern and exotic in Sri Lanka’s commercial capital of Colombo, a city quite unlike any other. You’ll drive past Dutch and British colonial-era buildings, including the Wolvendhal Church and the old Town Hall, interspersed with Hindu Temples, the neo-classical National Museum and the Pettah Bazaar. Visit Independence Square where this former British colony of then known as Ceylon was given self-rule in 1948. Wind past the Cricket Stadium and through affluent Horton Place and Kottes. Admire the colorful murals and statues of the Lord Buddha at the Asokaramaya Temple, built over a century ago. After a refreshment break continue to the Janakala Kendraya handicrafts village to see local artisans at work. (B,L,D)
March 1 - Colombo
Drive from Colombo to the sacred city of Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its unusual beauty and the location of a temple containing a tooth of the Buddha. The scenic drive takes you through small towns that cultivate many varieties of exotic fruit, past plantations and rice paddies to Sri Lanka’s stunning hill country. Visit Peradeniya to visit the Royal Botanic Gardens. A visit to the Orchid House should not be missed. Continue to Kandy, founded in the 14th- century and the last capital of Sri Lanka’s kings. On the opposite side of this picturesque valley, take a guided tour of the monumental Temple of the Tooth where the sacred relic is enshrined. A visit will be made to the Kandy Museum. During the return drive to Colombo and the ship, you’ll make a stop at a Spice Garden and learn about Sri Lanka’s Ayurvedic herbal healing traditions. (B,L,D)
March 2 - 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 Travelers at a private, pre-dinner Reception. (B,L,D)
March 3 - Cochin
Centuries of invaders, traders and rulers have shaped the culture and of the Indian state of Kerala's premier city. Palaces, mosques, churches, and an active synagogue mark the periods in Cochin's history. Begin your sightseeing with a drive to Ft. Cochin, 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 Cochin dates to the 1st century but long before that it is said the ships of King Solomon traded here. (B,L,D)
March 4 - 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)
March 5 - Marmagao
Marvel at two magnificent churches of Old Goa, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, then take a walking tour of the capital's atmospheric Latin Quarter. Some of India's most architecturally beautiful buildings can be found in Old Goa. This walled historic precinct contains an archaeological reserve of churches that were influential in spreading Manueline, Mannerist and Baroque art to Asia in the 16th to 18th centuries. Designed to impress the local people into conversion, these magnificent churches testify to the wealth of Goa when it was the capital of the Eastern Portuguese Empire. Visit St. Cajetan Church, modeled on St. Peter's in Rome, with its hidden crypt where in 1992 the bodies of former Portuguese governors were found in lead coffins waiting to be sent back to Lisbon. Next, visit the 16th-century Basilica of Bom Jesus, where St Francis Xavier, Goa's patron saint, is entombed in a marble mausoleum. Continue your sightseeing with a drive through Panjim, the state capital. Enjoy a walking tour through one of the city's most charming neighborhoods, the Fontainhas Latin Quarter built by the Portuguese. Stroll along the narrow streets past wonderful old villas and savor the tranquil essence of Goa. Before dinner, gather with fellow shipmates for a Farewell Reception. (B,L,D)
March 6 - 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 manual 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)
March 7 – Mumbai and Jaipur
Disembark the ship and transfer to the Mumbai airport. On the way see and visit the Dabba Wala that delivers home-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)
March 8 - Jaipur
Begin your day by traveling to Galtaji, a shrine overlooking Jaipur’s eastern city limits. Lively macaques, with all their monkey antics, populate this Rama 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)
March 9 - Jaipur to Agra
Board the Shatabdi Express Train for the 3½-hour ride to 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)
March 10 – Agra and New Delhi
In early morning view the Taj Mahal from Mehtaab Bagn, the Moonlight Garden. 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 by motor coach from Agra to Delhi where you will check in at the luxurious Taj Palace Hotel. (B,L)
March 11 - 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 Farewell Reception. (B,L)
March 12 – New Delhi and Return to the U.S.
Today visit Nizamuddin Durga and attend a Sufi Musical Performance. Afterward visit Humayun’s Tomb a designated World Heritage Site. The afternoon is at leisure to explore Delhi independently. At the appropriate hour depart the hotel for New Delhi Airport for the flight to the U.S. Meals suited to the time of day will be served en route. (B,L)
Note: Itinerary sequence and/or included tours and scheduled events may change due to operational consideration.