Japan and Pacific Islands
Japan and Pacific Islands
10/09/22 to 24/09/22
Dates
10/09/22 to 24/09/22
Ship
SH Minerva
Duration
15 Days
Guests
2 Guest
Price From
£ 14,674.00
Per Cabin
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Trip Details

Set out on a sweeping 15-day cruise aboard a luxurious ship and explore Japan’s culture from Hakodate to Yokohama, its historic cities like Otaru and the beauty of its subtropical islands on Chichi Jima; before capping on your voyage by going off the beaten track and visiting several Pacific idylls including some of America’s oceanic territories such as Saipan and Guam. From neon-lit cities to white sands, forest- topped islands and sapphire waters, you’ll experience it all on this all-encompassing journey, which is led by our expert team.

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Trip Highlights

Set out on a sweeping 15-day cruise aboard a luxurious ship and explore Japan’s culture from Hakodate to Yokohama, its historic cities like Otaru and the beauty of its subtropical islands on Chichi Jima; before capping on your voyage by going off the beaten track and visiting several Pacific idylls including some of America’s oceanic territories such as Saipan and Guam. From neon-lit cities to white sands, forest- topped islands and sapphire waters, you’ll experience it all on this all-encompassing journey, which is led by our expert team.

Immerse yourself in Japan’s traditions and customs, art, wildlife, history and nature.
Celebrate the rich Chamorro culture and witness the island’s World War II history on gorgeous Guam.
Visit the thrillingly remote, mesmerically beautiful and unique Maug, part of America’s Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.
Birders will enjoy a fascinating cruise around Tori-shima, one of Japan’s most interesting bird sanctuaries.
Witness one of the world’s greatest natural wonders: Mount Fuji, the peak that represents Japan itself.
Itinerary Map
Itinerary
Day 1, Otaru

An important port on Hokkaido - Japan’s northernmost island - Otaru retains much of its original architecture. Restored warehouses along its picturesque canal, lined with Victorian street lamps, have been converted into restaurants and boutiques selling sake, music boxes and renowned Otaru glass. Built on the herring industry, its trading history is evident from the terminal station of Hokkaido’s first railway line to the Herring Mansion on the outskirts of town, once owned by rich herring fishermen.

Day 2, Hakodate

Today, you can explore Hokkaido’s third-largest city. Located at the island’s southern tip, Hakodate is best known for its proximity to Mount Hakodate. Ascend the mountainside to enjoy the magnificent views: you can whizz by cable car to the top from the base station to the summit – it only takes three minutes, or spend an hour walking one of the well-maintained pathways. As one of the first Japanese cities open to foreigners, there are international influences at work in the city’s built landscape and culture. Stroll around the Motomachi neighbourhood to see its Western-style churches and other buildings. Visit the star-shaped Goryokaku fort or pop to the top of Goryokaku Tower for a bird’s-eye view of the 19th-century defensive structure. Nearby in the Hakodate City Tropical Botanical Gardens, a troop of some 100 Japanese macaques monkey about and can be seen enjoying a hot spring during colder spells of weather.

Day 3, Miyako

Those in the know consider Japan to be the most underrated destination for beaches in the whole of South-east Asia. Today your port of call is Miyako in the Iwate Prefecture. Despite suffering devastating damage from the 2011 tsunami, Miyako recovered and rebuilt with incredible speed, bouncing back better than ever. Located just outside of the city’s centre, Jodogahama or ‘Pure Land’ beach is a paint splash of white, set against impossibly azure water and green-tufted karsts. This pebble beach is one of the most renowned spots on the Rikuchu coastline and has earned its place on lists such as Japan’s best 100 beaches, the best swimming spots – even Japan’s most fragrant location. It’s one of Japan’s nationally designated places of scenic beauty. Aside from Jodogahama, Miyako’s other attractions include a fantastic fish market.

Day 4, Onahama

Onahama’s centrepiece is undoubtedly Aquamarine Fukushima, which has been extensively rebuilt and expanded since the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. Dive deep – this ‘environmental aquarium’ is more than it seems. A zoo, aquarium and terrarium that is home to 70,000 creatures, it recreates the rivers, coasts and oceanscape of the region. Fukushima provides an immersive way to discover the coastal and marine life of this little piece of the Pacific. Possibly the most fascinating exhibit is Shiome-no-Umi, a triangular aquarium that represents the Kuroshio Current, the meeting of the southern Fukushima stream and the Oyashio flow. A short walk from the aquarium are both Iwaki La La Mew, a large fish market, and Misaki Park with its ‘marine tower’ and observation platform.

Day 5, Hitachi

Get to know Hitachi today. Located on the Kanto Plain, this city sandwiched between the Abukuma Mountains to the west and the Pacific to the east. A bustling place, it boasts six beaches and attractions such as Kamine Park, Oku Hitachi Kirara no Sato, Yoshida Tadashi Memorial Music Hall, and Hitachi Civic Centre. Since the Meiji Era, the city has grown into one of Japan’s most prominent industrial hubs, and for some, the name Hitachi is synonymous with electronics. However, Hitachi deserves to be defined by its floral landscapes as well. One of our favourite destinations for flowers, Hitachi Seaside Park, is a considerable space of some 350 hectares. At various times of the year, it is carpeted by different colours as its myriad flowers bloom. The park is best known, perhaps, for its 5.3 million nemophila, small blue flowers known as ‘baby blue eyes’ – a ground-covering herb which turns the usually green space into a sea of blue when it flowers.

Day 6, Yokohama

Take some time to discover Japan’s second-biggest city. Yokohama lies within the greater Tokyo area, but it’s an unmissable destination in its own right. Explore the city’s happening harbour, Minato Mirai 21, which was redeveloped in the 1980s. This neon-lit space includes the Landmark Town, Japan’s tallest building when it opened in 1993. Ascend to the 69th floor to visit the ‘Sky Garden’ for views of the bay, the Cosmo World Ferris Wheel and even Mount Fuji. Also on the waterfront is the Yokohama Cup Noodle Museum. Still, if you don’t fancy that, you could opt instead to visit the Kirin Beer Factory or the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum. And if all that’s whetted your appetite, make your way to Chinatown, reputedly Asia’s largest with more than 200 restaurants from which to choose.

Day 7, Mount Fuji

Today you’ll experience one of the world’s greatest natural wonders. The tallest peak in Japan at 3,776 metres, nothing can prepare you for your first real-life glimpse of Mount Fuji. Views of the famed stratovolcano are so overexposed as to seem banal, but Fujisan astounds visitors with its elegant, perfectly symmetrical shape. Snow-capped most of the year-round, UNESCO World Heritage-listed Fujisan stands as a symbol of Japan’s beauty, history and spirituality. Rising above villages and tree- fringed shores of Suruga Bay and lakes, it has long been a place of pilgrimage and inspired artists such as Hokusai and Hiroshige. Famed in poetry as ‘the parting of heaven and earth’, the slopes of the peak are dotted with sacred shrines – both Buddhist and Shinto. You’ll feel as though you are truly living the high life.

Day 8, At Sea

Days at sea are the perfect chance to relax, unwind and do whatever takes your fancy. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, trying to spot a whale from the deck, reading a chapter or two, or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to the green days spent exploring on land.

Day 9, Cruising Tori-Shima

The name Tori-shima translates to ‘Bird Island’, and it’s the perfect moniker for this volcanic island that Japan has declared a Bird Sanctuary. Part of the Izu Island group, no humans call this rugged place home. Still, short-tailed albatrosses choose to nest here, as well as several thousand breeding pairs of Tristram’s storm petrels, Japanese murrelets, black-footed albatrosses, common kestrels and blue rock thrushes. Cruise around this circular island – the only visitors allowed to land here are scientists – and keep a keen eye out: dolphins and humpback whales often appear in the waters here.

Day 10, Chichi-jima

Disembark on Chichi Jima. This remote Pacific Island – the largest in the Ogasawara archipelago, once known as the Bonins – with its tiny port of typically Japanese low-slung buildings is a fascinating place with a complicated history. The island’s founding father was an American sailor named Nathaniel Savory, who set sail in 1830 with a band of Americans and Europeans and their Hawaiian wives looking for an ‘uninhabited paradise’. Some descendants of the original settlers – known as obeikei – still live in this UNESCO World Heritage site (the whole pristine island chain is listed). Though now inhabited and despite being passed back and forth between the U.S. and Japan and having a dark World War II past, it’s still a paradise. Covered in a subtropical forest, white sand beaches and dramatic cliffs, Chichi Jima is renowned for its beaches, diving, whale and dolphin watching.

Day 11, At Sea

As you cruise across the Pacific, enjoy a full day indulging in the amenities of your ship. You might find your inner calm practising some yoga. Listen to an informative talk. Lounge on the deck and enjoy a cocktail from the bar. Tonight after a delicious dinner in the restaurant, settle in for some light entertainment and a nightcap before heading to your comfortable cabin.

Day 12, Maug Islands

Part of America’s Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, Maug is unique to the Mariana Islands. Thrillingly remote as well as mesmerically beautiful, Maug is made up of three separate small islands that circle a two-kilometre-diameter submerged caldera. Now known as Higashi-shima, Kita-shima and Nishi-shima, these triplets were first sighted by a European on 22 August 1522 when spotted by Gonzalo Gómez de Espinosa, who named this place Las Monjas (The Nuns). Chamorros people lived here until the late 1600s when the inhabitants were forcibly removed, and since then Maug has been officially part of the German Empire, as well as leased to Japan. Today you can Island hop across these nearly-touching landmasses. They are green and rich in birdlife including petrels, shearwaters, egrets, frigatebirds, boobies, noddies, terns and kingfishers.

Day 13, Pagan

Today, become immersed in Pagan island’s natural beauty. Even in a region renowned for its good looks, it’s difficult to find somewhere more idyllic than horseshoe-shaped Green Beach, where azure waves break onto dark volcanic sand. This 10-mile long speck in the Pacific Ocean is dominated by its two fearsome volcanos, one of which forced the island’s inhabitants to flee in 1981. Chamorro people first settled on this island some 1,300 years ago, and archaeologists have uncovered evidence of human habitation dating back more than two millennia. Now uninhabited, the island’s displaced people long to return, and you’ll soon see why. Keen photographers will love not only this photogenic place’s views but also its current inhabitants, which include a species of endangered fruit bat, endemic birds, lizards and a rare type of tree snail. It’s been described as a ‘biological treasure trove’.

Day 14, Saipan

Saipan is the second-largest island in the Mariana archipelago after Guam. It fell under American administration after World War II and became a U.S. commonwealth in 1978. The most populated of the Northern Marianas with 50,000 inhabitants, Saipan also was controlled by Spain, Germany and then Japan. Known for its breath-taking beaches such as Obyan, Pau Pau, Laolao and on the tiny islet of Managaha, visitors enjoy sunbathing, windsurfing and scuba diving when on Saipan. There’s more to Saipan than its sand though; it’s brimming with historic sites and Second World War monuments, as well as enjoyable inland treks. If all that whets your appetite, be sure to tuck into some of the island’s traditional dishes like red rice, chicken kelaguen, or buñelos aga (banana doughnuts).

Day 15, Guam

Arrive today in your final destination: Guam. It’s been exactly 500 years since the first European, Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan, spotted this island in the northwest Pacific Ocean on 6 March 1521 on his first circumnavigation. Since then, Guam changed hands several times, but nowadays it’s a ‘Territory of the United States’. Before becoming an American domain, Guam was Spanish for more than 300 years and Fort Nuestra Senora de la Soledad, located near Umatac on the southwest coast, is a fragment of that rule, as is the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral Basilica in the capital. The island’s indigenous inhabitants are the Chamorro people, who are believed to have populated Guam since around 2,000 BCE. Known for its rich Chamorro culture, the island is also renowned for its World War II historical places of interest, romantic viewpoints like fabled Two Lovers Point, hotspots such as Tumon Bay, and of course, the diving – Apra Harbor is home to several shipwrecks.

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Rates Include
One night pre-cruise hotel accommodation with breakfast
Transfer from the airport to the hotel on the day prior to embarkation
Transfer from the hotel to the port for embarkation
Transfer from the port to the airport on return
Onboard accommodation
All meals onboard including room service 24 hours a day
Coffee, tea, soft drinks & select alcoholic beverages 24 hours a day
Lecture programmes by our experienced expedition team and guest speakers
On shore transfer per port of call
Basic WIFI inclusion (Premium WIFI available)
Onboard gratuities & port taxes
*Itineraries & prices are subject to change*
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Cabins
Number of Guests
Oceanview
19 m2 Sleeps 2
Oceanview cabins features 2 single beds, bedroom and living room and a luxurious ensuite bathroom.
Price From
£ 7337
Balcony
28 m2 Sleeps 2
Features 2 single beds, bedroom and living room, a luxurious ensuite bathroom and your own private 6 sq.m. balcony.
Price From
£ 9266
Suite
44 m2 Sleeps 2
Our Suites features a superking bed and separate living room with and a soothing flame-effect fireplace a luxurious ensuite bathroom and a 12 sq.m. private balcony.
Price From
£ 21637
Premium Suite
49 m2 Sleeps 2
Our grandest suites features a superking bed and separate living room with and a soothing flame-effect fireplace a luxurious ensuite bathroom, spacious walk in wardrobe and a 12 sq.m private balcony.
Price From
£ 17125
Itinerary Map