Japan by Cruise - which itinerary?

Pushka

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So I see I asked this type of question back in 2017 and no response 😂. Trying again.

I'll preempt this by saying that I'm fully aware that seeing Japan by cruise is not the best way of seeing the country I'll get that out of the way.

So, I'd like some input into which cruise is best, granted that one is 10 days longer than the other two. Two are on HAL, the other on Diamond Princess whichhas been refitted for Japan.


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Actually cruising Japan during cherry blossom time is probably better than a land tour as the crowds are enormous and everything is a lot dearer. good to arrive in a place knowing you have a bed for the night.
However predicting when the flowers are going to be at their peak is difficult a year in advance as the times are variable. For example on our cruise the blooms were on schedule in Kanazawa but not much further north in niigata they were esrly and nearly finished when we got there. but then we were supposedly too early for Akita an the surrounding area but they were in full bloom. So the more ports the better chance of seeing them in full bloom.
Also a good thing we did was before the cruise spent time in Osaka and Kyoto. We flew into Osaka where we stayed at the Imperial Hotel on the river. a very large park on both banks of the river t here with thousands of cherry trees. We spent 5 days in kyoto staying at the Westin which was an easy walk to several of the best areas such as the Philosphers walk. Plus they had a shuttle to kyoto station but it stopped half way close to other great places for the cherry blossom. That was in the second half of March.
We also went north to the Akita,Aomori area by train and it was stunning particularly Hirosaki castle. So the trip report. some of the photos don't show up but a couple of refresh goes and most can still be seen.

Japan starts at post 43.

So which cruise is best. Well any of them would be good but I would prefer the longer ones. So I would probably do number 3 starting 30/3 as the later one might miss best time in southern Japan though better in the north. But if you do visit Osaka and Kyoto before the cruise then the later cruise is better although it does miss Kanazawa which was one of the highlights with Kenrokuen garden which shouldn't be missed.
 
Actually cruising Japan during cherry blossom time is probably better than a land tour as the crowds are enormous and everything is a lot dearer. good to arrive in a place knowing you have a bed for the night.
However predicting when the flowers are going to be at their peak is difficult a year in advance as the times are variable. For example on our cruise the blooms were on schedule in Kanazawa but not much further north in niigata they were esrly and nearly finished when we got there. but then we were supposedly too early for Akita an the surrounding area but they were in full bloom. So the more ports the better chance of seeing them in full bloom.
Also a good thing we did was before the cruise spent time in Osaka and Kyoto. We flew into Osaka where we stayed at the Imperial Hotel on the river. a very large park on both banks of the river t here with thousands of cherry trees. We spent 5 days in kyoto staying at the Westin which was an easy walk to several of the best areas such as the Philosphers walk. Plus they had a shuttle to kyoto station but it stopped half way close to other great places for the cherry blossom. That was in the second half of March.
We also went north to the Akita,Aomori area by train and it was stunning particularly Hirosaki castle. So the trip report. some of the photos don't show up but a couple of refresh goes and most can still be seen.

Japan starts at post 43.

So which cruise is best. Well any of them would be good but I would prefer the longer ones. So I would probably do number 3 starting 30/3 as the later one might miss best time in southern Japan though better in the north. But if you do visit Osaka and Kyoto before the cruise then the later cruise is better although it does miss Kanazawa which was one of the highlights with Kenrokuen garden which shouldn't be missed.
Thankyou. Thats brilliant. We thought maybe we could combine the two shorter cruises on HAL as another option. But the HAL ship might seem a bit limited. The longer cruise is Princess Diamond that we have been on previously.

Osaka and Kyoto are definitely on the list as separate visits.
 
The first thing I thought about was combining the first 2 cruises but probably that increases the cost. fortunately only 2 overlaps that I can see.
Yes and that would be the same price as the princess cruise which is fine but I think someone near and dear might go a bit spare on the smaller ship. Princess have a $199 deposit special so its low risk. The Princess cruise is actually two cruises together so I've just seen. As is the HAL cruise but the deposit for the combined cruise is over $2000.
 
Great idea Pushka, we thought the same and about 6 months Mrs Clayton and I booked the 28 day HAL Noordam cruise embarking Yokohama 30 March 2025 for a comprehensive loop of Japan. We haven't been on this ship before but have sailed on its newer slightly larger sibling Nieuw Statendam, and found it had ample entertainment and sufficient restaurant variety. Entertainment will certainly be more varied than our other cruises on Silversea Wind and Silver and on the various river cruises with Uniworld and Avalon. This allied with everyday seeing a new location and the diversity of Japanese food available on land should make this a most enjoyable month.

Have to agree with Drron's comments about the benefit of ease of traversing Japan during Sakura season, and very much looking forward to settling into the ship to move us gradually around the regions and allowing an extended view of Spring unfolding.
 
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I agree with the others from a different side, in that the Princess itin seems to generally allow more time to visit in many of the ports you visit (but not all, some are less), often 2 hours. This is substantial, giving you a lot more flexibility, or time spent exploring, so I'd also be strongly leaning towards Princess (as well as for the passenger mix).

As for cruising, although in most countries doing a land tour gives you more flexibility, and ability to visit more sites, I've visited Japan twice via cruise and found it better than many countries - often because Japan being a dense country and with good transport, the ports are often close to the city, and relatively easily accessible.
 
Great idea Pushka, we thought the same and about 6 months Mrs Clayton and I booked the 28 day HAL Noordam cruise embarking Yokohama 30 March 2025 for a comprehensive loop of Japan. We haven't been on this ship before but have sailed on its newer slightly larger sibling Nieuw Statendam, and found it had ample entertainment and sufficient restaurant variety. Entertainment will certainly be more varied than our other cruises on Silversea Wind and Silver and on the various river cruises with Uniworld and Avalon. This allied with everyday seeing a new location and the diversity of Japanese food available on land should make this a most enjoyable month.

Have to agree with Drron's comments about the benefit of ease of traversing Japan during Sakura season, and very much looking forward to settling into the ship to move us gradually around the regions and allowing an extended view of Spring unfolding.
Ah. Same timings pretty much. So I posted your itinerary in two sectors.
 
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Around Japan sounds good to me. Best we have going at the moment is Sydney to Tokyo on Royal Princess leaving on 6th April 2024.
Itinerary:
Apr 6th Dep Sydney
Apr 8th Brisbane
Apr 13th Darwin
Apr 19th Hong Kong
Apr 21st Taipei
Apr 23rd Kagoshima
Apr 24th Kochi
Apr 25th Osaka
Apr 26th Shimizu
Apr 27th Yokohama
Apr 28th NRT - SIN - MEL (SQ637 & SQ237)

This trip was actually booked 5 years ago and continually got cancelled. Onboard credit went up with each cancellation but the price didn't so it's ended up VERY cheap.
 
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Around Japan sounds good to me. Best we have going at the moment is Sydney to Tokyo on Royal Princess leaving on 6th April.
Itinerary:
Apr 6th Dep Sydney
Apr 8th Brisbane
Apr 13th Darwin
Apr 19th Hong Kong
Apr 21st Taipei
Apr 23rd Kagoshima
Apr 24th Kochi
Apr 25th Osaka
Apr 26th Shimizu
Apr 27th Yokohama
Apr 28th NRT - SIN - MEL (SQ637 & SQ237)

This trip was actually booked 5 years ago and continually got cancelled. Onboard credit went up with each cancellation but the price didn't so it's ended up VERY cheap.
The excursions on Princess are wickedly priced though and you can't use the OBC on this trip anyway, in advance to offset them. And many are completely booked out and the cruise is over 12 months away!
 
The excursions on Princess are wickedly priced though and you can't use the OBC on this trip anyway, in advance to offset them. And many are completely booked out and the cruise is over 12 months away!
I understand re the OBC and think it's a stupid arrangement. The only ship excursion we plan is from the ship to NRT (booked) which was actually reasonably priced (surprise). I guess Sue will get lots of Pandora and we'll have a few more specialty restrauant meals than normal.
It's on 6th April 2024. ie in 6 weeks from now.
 
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I understand re the OBC and think it's a stupid arrangement. The only ship excursion we plan is from the ship to NRT (booked) which was actually reasonably priced (surprise). I guess Sue will get lots of Pandora and we'll have a few more specialty restrauant meals than normal.
It's on 6th April 2024. ie in 6 weeks from now.
So we have the Plus package and have heard references to that where tips are included. But I don't see that in the description. I'm guessing the package changed. Because double our OBC will go towards paying for those I'm thinking. No Pandora for me.
 
So we have the Plus package and have heard references to that where tips are included. But I don't see that in the description. I'm guessing the package changed. Because double our OBC will go towards paying for those I'm thinking. No Pandora for me.
I am sure you are aware, but mention it JIC, Princess cruises out of Australia have tips included in the price. (Ship currency $Au) whereas others don’t and they charge you a set amount per day.
 
I am sure you are aware, but mention it JIC, Princess cruises out of Australia have tips included in the price. (Ship currency $Au) whereas others don’t and they charge you a set amount per day.
So cruises originating in Japan don't? It's all so confusing. Viking included tips in all their cruises regardless. Celebrity did too but think that changed shortly after we booked. Our excursions are in USD which makes them even more shocking.
 
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