Shorter flight times from Europe and the opening up of previously closed borders has made the Far East a very popular choice for a cruise holiday in recent years. Star Cruises has traditionally been the main operator in the area with some of the finest ships sailing from Hong Kong and Singapore. Today though, most of the key operators are positioning ships in Asian waters for around six months of the year. Thailand has for a long time been a favourite destination for cruising and land based holidays and many people choose Bangkok, Koh Samui or Phuket as a Cruise and Stay option. The region, thanks to its warm climate, attracts Europeans wishing to escape winter as well as Chinese and Japanese tourists who are experiencing cruising for the first time. Australian passengers also frequent the area, thanks to its proximity to home when compared with the other main affordable cruise areas of the world. Shore excursions sometimes require rather long road journeys, especially when visiting Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok or Tokyo. A cruise in the Far East also provides magnificent opportunities to those seeking to view the enormous development that has taken place in such cities as Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City and Yokohama. It has been suggested that the 2008 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games were probably the last to be seen on a grand scale. All cruise itineraries visiting Tianjin have shore excursions arranged to view the Bird's Nest Stadium and its surrounding sights. Visa procurement, along with expensive accommodation and air fares make touring the region very difficult for most people. A cruise, however, offers exceptional value for money as well as an opportunity to see many countries and their fascinating cultures. With a cruise there is no need to change accommodation or worry about costly, time consuming, visa formalities.