Jul 12, 2018
One of our favorite travel memories we've had since living in Japan is a cruise we took that departed from Yokohama and went to Korea and Taiwan. Going on a cruise is probably the most relaxing trip we've ever taken - you literally get on board, head to your cabin, unpack and you're able to start your vacation then and there!
Japan, being an island nation, has a number of different ports where you can board cruise ships from. For our vacation, we booked through Princess Cruises, but I imagine that there are a number of other cruise ship companies that depart from here. Speaking from my own experience though, it was easy enough to go to the Princess Cruises website, filter the search results by the port we wanted to depart from, and see what was on offer. Princess offers departures from Kobe, Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo (Yokohama) ports.
One thing to keep in mind when you're looking at cruises is whether or not they start and return to the same point. Some will start from Yokohama, for instance, but finish at a different port in Japan (or even out of Japan). There are quite a few round trip cruises that also stay within Japan, so if you want to try and explore more of the country while you're living here and not necessarily go abroad, cruising can be a fun and easy way of doing that.
The cruise we went on a few years back took us from Yokohama to Jeju in South Korea, then onto Taipei, Kaohsiung and Hualien in Taiwan - then back to Yokohama. You're able to book "shore tours" through the cruise companies, where you can pick certain activities to do with a guide. There are usually a range of shore tour options to choose at each port you visit, and we found this easiest to do in most locations. It gave us a better insight into the areas than going it alone, but if you do want to go it alone you can definitely do that. Just don't be late back to the ship!
Taroko Gorge in Hualien was one of our favorite spots on our cruise to Taiwan that departed from Yokohama
Our meals were all included on board, but there were "fancier" eateries that you could pop into for an additional fee. We found the regular buffet style meals were tasty and there was plenty of variety from day to day that we weren't left wanting. Alcoholic drinks are also extra so bear that in mind! You're given a cruise card which essentially works like an ATM card to tally your purchases, and you get an invoice at the end of the cruise for any payment you need to settle.
Have you been on a cruise before? Any plans to take one from Japan during your time living here?
After spending the last several years in the beating heart of Tokyo, I will be spending the next three in the countryside of Japan. I adore this country and all it has to offer - and I'm always learning more and more about life here as I go along!