Princess Cruises is to offer 39 Japan-based cruise itineraries between April and November 2017, a 27% increase compared to 2016.
Sailing from Tokyo and Kobe, Diamond Princess will operate five- to 17-night itineraries to 31 destinations in six countries. The voyages are designed to enable guests to explore UNESCO World Heritage sites and participate in some of Japan's largest cultural festivals and special events. Maiden calls will include Tsuruga in Japan, as well as ports in South Korea, Taiwan, Russia, Hong Kong and Vietnam. It is expected 75,000 guests will sail on these voyages.
Highlights will include a new ‘Spring Floral Festivals’ voyage in April, which will take guests to Akita for the Kakunodate Cherry Blossom Festival, Aormori for the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival and Toyama for the Tonami Tulip Festival. Eight 17-night voyages will also take guests to the Aomori Nebuta parade and the Akita Kanto festival, which features a procession of 200 bamboo poles with lanterns.
The line will also call at ten UNESCO World Cruise Heritage Sites. For example, all of the Hokkaido Island voyages feature scenic cruising of the UNESCO World Site Shiretoko Peninsula and a late night stay in Hakodate, home to the Mount Hakodate cable car. Meanwhile, the newly extended autumn season also includes a nine-night ‘Circle Japan’ voyage, which departs on 17 October and includes visits to Aomori and Toyama (Fushiki) in Northern Japan.
Shorter five-night roundtrips from Tokyo will take passengers to Busan, South Korea and either Nagasaki, Kagoshima or Shimizu. Another five-night cruise will sail from Kobe to Tokyo calling at Busan, Nagasaki and includes a special scenic cruise of the abandoned Hasmina Island (Gunkanjima).
Princess will also offer two multi-day land tour package options, which can be added on to most cruises. The ‘Highlights of Japan’ tour takes guests to the main sites in Kyoto including Nijo Castle, the Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion) and Japanese gardens, as well as the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Mount Fuji, Togendai and Lake Ashi in Tokyo.
Meanwhile, the new ‘Temples & Traditions of Japan’ package is an extended version of the ‘Highlights of Japan’ with two additional nights in the UNESCO creative city of Kanazawa. Here guests will be able participate in a Japanese Washi paper-making demonstration and sushi-making experience, and will get the chance to visit Nomura Samurai House and Higashi Chaya, the Geisha district of Japan. Most meals and an experienced tour director are included on both Land and Sea Vacation packages.
“We’ve been recognised as the top cruise line in Asia offering the best itineraries and our 2017 Japan voyages more than live up to this accolade, offering our longest season yet,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “We visit the top-rated ports, provide local cultural entertainment and culinary experiences onboard and offer bi-lingual service to make it easy and memorable for our guests to explore all that Japan offers.”
Diamond Princess, which was the first of two Princess ships to be built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Nagasaki, Japan, features various onboard amenities and venues designed to enhance the Japanese cultural experience. These include Kai Sushi restaurant, noodle stations, Japanese entertainment offerings such as ‘rakugo’ storytelling performances and origami classes, and the largest traditional Izumi Japanese Bath at sea, which is modelled on the popular Japanese onsen experience. Onboard collateral items and stateroom information are also available in both English and Japanese.