Summary : Considered a traveler’s bucket-list must, the Pacific Ring of Fire will stretch your horizons to their limits. Stand in silent awe at the foot of an active volcano, yet experience a different kind of wonderment as you gaze, amazed, at the famous floating Torii gate, considered one of the “three views of Japan”. From UNESCO World Heritage Sites to tranquil gardens, experience raw beauty and cultural history on this journey.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Embark the ship and depart on your exciting expedition. This afternoon, after settling in and before setting sail, you will participate in a mandatory safety drill. Familiarize yourself with your new home away from home and meet some of your fellow travelers at the Sail Away Cocktail.
Your Expedition Leader will introduce important members of the crew and the Expedition Team, before the Restaurant Manager and Executive Chef invite you to enjoy the first of many memorable meals in The Restaurant.
The Northern Mariana Islands are a chain of 15 tropical islands in the western Pacific Ocean, about 120 miles north of Guam. At 12 miles in length and 5 miles wide, Saipan is the largest of the 15 islands, and site of the CNMI capital. Settlement of Saipan and its neighboring islands occurred circa 2000 BC by the Chamorro people who arrived via similar routes as their cousins in Guam. Ferdinand Magellan first sighted the Mariana Islands in March 1521 and claimed “Las Islas de las Velas Latinas” for Spain. In 1668, the islands’ name changed to the present one in honor of Mariana of Austria, the widow of Spain’s king, Philip IV.
Among the 15 islands of the Northern Marianas, Pagan Island consists of two stratovolcanoes joined by a strip of land that is less than 2,000 feet across at its narrowest point. The island was completely evacuated in 1981 when a large eruption forced the small Micronesian community to relocate to Saipan. Pagan, the northern volcano, is still active, and one of the more recent lava-flows has come close to the small former settlement on the west coast. To reach this lava flow one has to follow an old runway used by the Japanese during the 1940s, where the remains of several bunkers, pill boxes and planes can still be seen. A hike up the ridge will reveal a scenic view of two lakes further north.
Three small elongated islands up to 2.3 km (1.4 miles) in length are all that remains of Maug volcano. The islands form the northern, western, and eastern rims of Maug’s largely submerged caldera. The highest point reaches 745 feet above sea level and the caldera has an average submarine depth of about 656 feet. The natural harbor contains a twin-peaked central lava dome that rises up from the seafloor to within a few fathoms of the surface. This perfect natural harbor often shelters dolphins near the southern entrance. The truncated inner walls of the caldera on all three islands show expose lava flows and pyroclastic deposits that are cut by radial dikes.
While at sea, enjoy wine tastings, designer boutiques, language and dance classes. Take in a matinee movie, check the market or your e-mail in the Internet Point, slip away with a novel from the library to a sunny chaise or with a movie to your suite. Or just take in the sun pool side. The choice is yours.
The remote Bonin Islands are known in Japan as the Ogasawara Islands. This archipelago has earned the nickname, “Galapagos of the Orient” and was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2011 for the unique plant and animal species that have evolved here. Chichijima, the “father island,” is the largest in the Ogasawara family of islands and yet another fantastic avian destination with several endemic species. Minamijima, a small uplifted coral island just south of the town, has a much photographed natural stone arch reflected in the small turquoise blue lagoon. Chichijima itself has good opportunities for swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing on one of the island’s pristine beaches.
The name Torishima translates to “Bird Island” and is a fitting name for this stark, uninhabited volcanic island that Japan has declared a Bird Sanctuary, Natural Monument and National Wildlife Protection Area. Located in the Izu Islands chain about 370 miles due south of Tokyo, Torishima is home to about 1,500 mature Short-tailed Albatrosses. This rare species is known to breed on only four islands in the North Pacific, with close to 80% nesting on the volcanic ash slopes of Torishima. As the island is an active volcano (last eruption in 2002) a landing here is only granted to scientists, and then only by helicopter.
While we're at sea, enjoy wine tastings, designer boutiques, language and dance classes. Take in a matinee movie, check the market or your e-mail in the Internet Point, slip away with a novel from the library to a sunny chaise or with a movie to your suite. Or just take in the sun pool side. The choice is yours.
Yakushima is a round-shaped subtropical island off the southern coast of Kyushu island and part of Kagoshima prefecture. One fifth of this island is designated a Natural World Heritage Site in 1993, and it is covered by an extensive cedar forest that contains some of Japan’s oldest living trees. The symbol of Yakushima is called Yaku-Sugi, meaning Japanese cedar, which is only used for cedar trees over 1,000 years old. The oldest Yaku-Sugi is considered to be more than 7,000 years old.
Nagasaki city has developed into one of the most important port cities in Japan. During Japan’s period of isolation in the 17th century, Nagasaki played a prominent role in foreign trade relation and only a very few ports were open to restricted numbers of foreign traders. Even though Holland was a major country who conducted trading during this period, Dutch people were only allowed to stay in Dejima Island and were not allowed to have contact with the Japanese people. Today, you will still find the strong influence of Dutch and Chinese culture in the city which is very different from all other cities in Japan.
Moji used to be an important international trading port with a number of well-preserved Western buildings. Several of these historic buildings can be seen along the attractive waterfront. Southwest of Moji , and part of the same city, is Kokura, the financial and business capital of the area. Kokura’s landmark is its castle, which has been beautifully restored. The remarkable garden located next to the main castle is not too far from the Manga Museum. South of Moji is the Hiraodai Limestone Plateau, Japan’s most representative karst plateau. The pure white limestone scattered throughout the landscape is often mistaken for sheep grazing in the grass.
On August 6, 1945, at 8:15 am, an atomic bomb known as Little Boy fell from an American plane, and the sky ignited and glowed for an instant. In that brief moment, however, it became as hot as the surface of the sun in Hiroshima, until then a rather ordinary workaday city in wartime Japan. Half the city was leveled by the resulting blast, and the rest was set ablaze. Rain impregnated with radioactive fallout then fell, killing many that the fire and 1,000-mph shock wave had not. By the end of this mind-boggling disaster, more than 140,000 people died.
The small island of Miyajima (“The Shrine Island”) is known for the Floating Torii Gate, which is one of “The Three Most Beautiful Views” of Japan. Built in the water, the Torii Gate leads to the Itsukushima Shrine and at high tide it seems to float. The Torii Gate is one of the most photographed sites in all of Japan. There are many more shrines and paths on Miyajima that are inviting to walk. Mount Misen has a cable car leading partly up to the top with nice views and wild monkeys and deer roaming the trails.
Okayama is an important transportation hub and one of the largest cities of the Chugoku Region. It is famous because it has one of Japan’s most significant gardens. Although the “Korakuen” Garden was severely damaged by bombs in WWII, the descriptions and paintings from the Edo period permitted an exact reconstruction. It is one of the “Three Gardens of Japan” and has been designated a “Special Scenic Location”. Known formerly as the center of rice-distribution in the Okayama area, many old warehouses next to the preserved canal have been converted into museums, boutiques and cafes. Another attraction is the Ohara Museum, which was the first Japanese Museum to permanently exhibit Western Art.
Following breakfast, disembark the ship.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Onboard accommodation; Wi-Fi aboard ship; onboard meals; onboard butler service; snorkeling; complimentary beverages served throughout the ship (an assortment of complimentary wines, champagne and spirits); onboard gratuities (except spa); port charges and handling fees; Silver, Medallion, Grand and Owner's Suite guests receive laundry service and dinner at Officer's table. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; travel insurance; government fees and taxes; visa and passport expenses; gifts and items of a personal nature such as laundry and spa options, fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises, © Ray Stranagan