Kota Kinabalu cruises

The capital of the state of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu provides a gateway to an adventure-fuelled destination. The city is decorated with dense jungle, stunning beaches and towering mountains. Kota Kinabalu sits on the island of Borneo and is a wild and intriguing place. It is home to diverse flora and fauna and stunning scenery. Those looking to get active during their time in and around the city will be blessed by a range of activities, while alluring beaches will appease those looking to relax.

History and heritage

Kota Kinabalu’s name is borrowed from Mount Kinabalu, a sacred and iconic mountain located 60 miles east of the city. The area was once known as Jesselton and in the 15th century it was under the rule of the Bruneian Empire. This rule lasted until the late 1800s when the British North Borneo Company landed.

Under British rule, the area became a major trading post, with exports including rubber, honey and wax. The city slowly grew around this industry, becoming more and more like it is today. In 1963 Malaysia gained independence from the British and four years later the name ‘Kota Kinabalu’ was applied to the area once known as Jesselton. Today, the city serves as the proud capital of the Malaysian state of Sabah and functions as the primary entry point for tourists visiting the north of Borneo.

Discover Kota Kinabalu

While the city itself is widely recognised as a tourist hub and a base for further exploration around the island, Kota Kinabalu is home to a number of interesting attractions. One of the best places to start is with a visit to the Atkinson Clock Tower. Built in memory of Francis George Atkinson, the first district officer of the area once known as Jesselton, the pretty clock tower is a nod to a significant colonial past. Further up the hill from where the clock tower is located, you will encounter the Signal Hill Observatory. The platform here offers the finest view across the city and the ocean.

The varied range of temples and places of worship in Kota Kinabalu symbolise the diverse population in Malaysia. Among the mosques, Hindu temples, churches and Chinese temples are some beautiful examples of authentic architecture. The Sacred Heart Cathedral is one of the largest in Sabah, while the Sabah State Mosque boasts a dome and minaret decorated in real gold. Pah Toh Tze Chinese Temple presents a whole other ideology in itself and is very beautiful.

Diversity is also embedded in the cuisine on offer across the city. Chinese, Malay, Javanese and European influences are found here, and one of the best ways to get a rounded impression of these flavours is by heading to a kedai kopi, a simple buffet-style eatery. Among the most popular dishes to try are wan tan mee, koay teow and laksa.

It is easy to embrace the notion of action and adventure when on a Kota Kinabalu cruise. Water sports are popular in the area surrounding the city, with superb diving and snorkelling trips widely available. Pulau Manukan beach offers some of the best underwater adventure, though others would be forgiven for just wanting to soak up the sunshine on the soft sand. 

Excursions

Please note: The shore excursions listed are typical for this port. The full programme of shore excursions available for your cruise will be displayed on Cruise Personaliser at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

  • Kinabalu Park

    An opportunity to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kinabalu Park and learn about the unique plants found here.

    Kinabalu Park

    The jagged granite peaks of Mount Kinabalu tower at over 13,000 feet above one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world. Nominated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Kinabalu Park is a natural wonder that offers visitors a glimpse into the fascinating and often unique world of plant life within the Park.

    Enjoy a scenic walk through the stunning Montane Oak and Chestnut Rainforest, before returning to the Park headquarters to view some of the 1,200 species of orchids, 9 species of carnivorous pitcher plants and 25 species of rhododendrons.

    During your tour a delicious luncheon will be served at a local hotel.


    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot and involves approximately 1½ hours of walking over some rough and uneven ground, as well as some steps to negotiate. The journey to Kinabalu Park is approximately two hours each way.

    Tour code

    KKU_008

    Features

    • Activity high

      Activity Level: High

    • Meal included

      Meal Included

    Duration

    8½ hours

  • Dalit Orang Utan Nature Reserve

    Visit the Dalit Nature Reserve to catch a glimpse of its resident Orang Utans.

    Dalit Orang Utan Nature Reserve

    Relax onboard your coach as a scenic drive takes you to Dalit Nature Reserve. During the journey, you’ll pass the City Mosque and the Tun Mustapha Tower, one of the tallest buildings in Kota Kinabalu.

    The Dalit Nature Reserve is a conservation effort between the Sabah State Wildlife Department and Shangri-la hotel group. Encompassing 64 acres of the Shangri-la Rasa Ria Beach Resort, the reserve aims to conserve nature and rehabilitate Orang Utans.

    This little piece of Borneo Jungle is currently home to two baby Orang Utans. Upon arrival you’ll be greeted by a ranger, who will lead you along a trail to the viewing platform. Have your cameras ready to capture memorable photographs as you meet these auburn haired babies. Unable to survive on their own until around the age of six, the baby Orang Utans are taught how to be independent here, from the basics of how to climb trees to how to search for food in the jungle. They share 96.4% of the human genetic makeup, they’re the largest tree climbing animal in the world and you’ll learn many more facts and figures during your visit. It’s an incredible experience to observe these curious creatures, showing off and playing like children, in their natural environment.


    ACTIVITY EXCURSIONS
    You and all those in your party should be aware that, in undertaking activity excursions, you will be involved in a degree of physical exertion and/or activity such as hiking, biking, snorkelling, kayaking, diving etc. By booking the excursion you confirm that you and all those in your party are in good physical and mental condition, with no history of conditions such as seizures, dizziness, fainting, heart condition, respiratory problems or back/neck problems (by way of example only). You should also ensure that no one in your party is taking medicine that carries a warning about impairment of physical or mental abilities. If you are pregnant this type of excursion may not be appropriate for you. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are fit and well enough to take part in the activities booked and you are reminded to take care for your own safety. Because of the risks associated with activity excursions, you may be asked by the excursion provider to sign a document which may affect or limit the excursion provider’s liability. Comfortable flat walking shoes are recommended.

    LIABILITY
    Cunard will arrange for the excursions to be performed by the relevant excursion provider. Cunard does not provide or supply the excursion services. Cunard will exercise reasonable care and skill in the selection of the excursion provider, but will not in any circumstances have a greater liability than the excursion supplier and Cunard shall not be responsible for the negligent acts/omissions of the excursion supplier. Please note that in relation to all excursions Cunard is not responsible or liable for any loss, damage, or injury sustained by you unless such loss, damage or injury arises out of a breach of legal duty of Cunard.

    TRAVEL INSURANCE
    Before booking any activity excursions it is essential that you ensure your travel insurance extends to cover the specified activity. It is your responsibility to obtain adequate insurance.

    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. In the event of inclement weather, the visit to the Orang Utan Nature Reserve may be cancelled. The tour would then be replaced with 006 Essence of Borneo and the difference in price of the tour credited to your onboard account. Guests are required to sign a waiver prior to entering the nature reserve. In order to reach the Orang Utan platform there is an uphill walk of around 15 minutes, including 100 steps to negotiate. The trail is over uneven ground, which can be slippery when wet. The sighting of wildlife is not guaranteed. Children under the age of six are not permitted to participate. Please ensure to wear flat, comfortable walking shoes. A hat, sunscreen and insect repellent are recommended. Space on this tour is limited, therefore booking early is recommended.

    Tour code

    KKU_010

    Features

    • Activity high

      Activity Level: High

    Duration

    4 hours

  • Colours of Borneo

    Experience the rustic side of Kota Kinabalu as you take a short ride on a thatched roof raft on a mangrove river and try batik painting.

    Colours of Borneo

    A unique opportunity to become acquainted with local life and to explore the different aspects of Borneo. Your scenic city drive will take you past the City Mosque, Tun Mustapha Tower and the University of Malaysia.

    Enjoy a short cruise on a unique local thatch roof raft through mangroves, learning about the importance of the mangrove forest. Learn the art of Batik painting before enjoying a snack of ‘Roti Canai’; Malaysian bread. Share a cup of Teh Tarek literally translated as ‘pulled tea’, a popular drink amongst the locals, as you immerse yourself in the sounds of nature around this rustic setting.

    Round off the tour with a visit to a pottery store to admire the local Borneo motifs used in ceramics, which have great significance in the local cultures.


    This excursion will operate by coach, on foot and by bamboo raft. There is minimal walking on this excursion, however there is a wooden walkway to the jetty with five steps.

    Tour code

    KKU_001

    Features

    • Activity low

      Activity Level: Low

    • Refreshments included

      Refreshments included

    Duration

    4 hours

  • Kota Kinabalu Highlights

    Take in the highlights of the city’s landmarks, before visiting the Heritage Village at the Sabah Museum.

    Kota Kinabalu Highlights

    A scenic drive will provide you with an overview of the beautiful city of Kota Kinabalu. As you journey through the town you’ll pass major landmarks such as the stunning State and City Mosques, Tanjung Aru Beach and the city’s highest building, the Tun Mustapha Tower.

    The Heritage Village provides visitors with a wonderful impression of the people and architectural styles of North Borneo. Each tribe has built their houses using local materials available in their area such as bamboo, tree bark and Nipah leaves with their own unique layout and design. A highlight of your visit will be the native houses, and the skull hut where you’ll learn more about the headhunting practice.

    Inside the Sabah Museum, admire the unique handmade baskets and musical instruments. Complete your excursion with a visit to a water village to learn about the simple life enjoyed by the residents.


    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot and involves approximately one hour of intermittent walking and approximately 50 steps at the Heritage Village. Guests are not permitted to bring cameras into the main museum, but will be able to leave them at the desk upon arrival. The Heritage village undergoes maintenance work from time to time to replace materials.

    Tour code

    KKU_004

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    Duration

    3½ hours

  • Essence of Borneo

    Learn about the culture and wildlife of Borneo on this fascinating tour.

    Essence of Borneo

    Visit Sabah’s only zoological park, Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, to see Borneo’s most notable animals such as the Orang Utan, Proboscis Monkeys, Asian Pgymy Elephants and the colourful Hornbills. Spread over 300 acres of valley and hilly terrain, the park aims to educate the public on wildlife and environmental conservation, research into captive management, rescue native animals for treatment or rehabilitation and reproduction of endangered species.

    Complete your Borneo experience with a stop at the Heritage Village to learn more about the ethnic groups found in Borneo. Gain a closer view of Sabah’s cultural diversity highlighted by the distinctive local architectural style and the unusual materials they use, such as bamboo, tree bark and Nipah leaves. Learn about the traditions of headhunting at the Skull Hut and the traditions and lifestyle of the different groups.


    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot and involves approximately two hours of walking and over 50 steps at the Heritage Village. Guests wishing to visit the main museum building will do so unguided and the use of cameras is not permitted. Sightings of all animals mentioned are not guaranteed and the order of highlights may be reversed to prevent overcrowding. The Heritage village undergoes maintenance work from time to time to replace materials.

    Tour code

    KKU_006

    Features

    • Activity high

      Activity Level: High

    Duration

    4½ hours

  • Borneo Traditional Living

    Visit the Mari Mari Cultural Village and discover the cultural diversity of North Borneo's different tribes.

    Borneo Traditional Living

    A scenic drive takes you to the Mari Mari Cultural Village, where you’ll gain an insight into the history, customs and traditions of Borneo.

    During a guided visit around the cultural village and the different tribal houses, you’ll discover how these indigenous tribes of Borneo learned to adapt before electricity was introduced to their land. Each tribe found different ways to carry out simple tasks such as cooking using bamboo, starting a fire without matches, making ropes from tree bark and even using local plants to create a refreshing drink!

    Round off your tour with a refreshing soft drink, before being treated to a delightful musical performance.


    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. Guests are required to access the cultural village via a short hanging bridge. The guided tour of the cultural village involves walking and standing for approximately two hours over uneven ground. There are up to 12 steep, narrow steps to negotiate to enter each of the tribal houses. Flat comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Guests are advised to bring insect repellent, sunscreen and a bottle of water. The journey to the Cultural Village is approximately 45 minutes each way.

    Tour code

    KKU_009

    Features

    • Activity high

      Activity Level: High

    • Refreshments included

      Refreshments included

    Duration

    4¼ hours

  • Kota Kinabalu Panorama

    Relax and see the sights of Kota Kinabalu City on this panoramic drive.

    Kota Kinabalu Panorama

    Kota Kinabalu City, the capital of Sabah, is a beautiful city located by the sea and this panoramic tour enables you to capture an overview of the city as you drive through the town and suburbs passing by major landmarks.

    During your scenic drive a stop for photographs will be made at the Tun Mustapha Building, formerly known as the Sabah Foundation Building, which is a remarkable architectural feat and is proudly known as one of the tallest buildings in Sabah. Drive past the City Mosque which was opened in commemoration of Kota Kinabalu achieving city status.

    Continue past the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which was officially opened by Her Majesty, the Queen during her official visit in 1972. You’ll then see the State Mosque, the pride of Sabah’s Islamic community, which boasts the largest honeycomb designed dome in the world, before driving by Tanjung Aru Beach

    During your tour a stop will be made for a refreshing soft drink.


    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot and requires minimal walking.

    Tour code

    KKU_002

    Features

    • Activity low

      Activity Level: Low

    • Refreshments included

      Refreshments included

    Duration

    2½ hours