Travellers tales by Aureen and Jack Morath UK Pionairs Social Secretary -
Last year, 2018, Aureen and I took a Blossom Time cruise to Japan which included stops around Japan and also South Korea and China. Our Qatar Airways flight took us from Heathrow to Doha which was seven hours on an A380 aircraft, and after a two hour transit time, carried on the next flight of ten and a half hours to Tokyo airport on a 777 aircraft, arriving in the evening. A coach then took us an hour and a half drive to the Inter Continental Hotel in Yokohama, a total journey of almost 24 hours. The following day we travelled on the local underground train to the local Chinatown, the largest in Japan, and afterwards, on the way back to the hotel, a stop in McDonald's for an ice cream! The next afternoon we took a short taxi ride to the port to embark on the Holland America ship the Volendam with 1500 other guests. The next day was at sea which gave us a chance to explore the ship and attend lectures about the next ports of call.
At noon the following day we arrived in Amami Oshima taking the free shuttle into town on one of Japan's largest islands. In the evening we set sail for Naha on the island of Okinawa which became a famous US base during the Second World War.
We were able to walk from the ship into the city centre and explore the many shops and stalls in the market. They seemed to sell the same things in every shop. In any foreign country it’s always good to ask young people the way as they are most likely to be able to speak English. We asked two schoolgirls the way to the local market street, and they insisted on taking us there which was about half a mile away. Afterwards we took a taxi back to the ship. All Japanese taxis are spotlessly clean and the drivers dressed in black suits and wearing white gloves. The rear doors are opened by the driver at the front so we don't have to open or close the doors ourselves. Next day we were at sea before arriving in Shanghai, China, and stopping there for two days to give us chance to explore the city. We sailed up the Yangtze River to the port and then a free ship’s shuttle into the city centre where we took a tour of the city on a Hop-On Hop-Off bus. We returned to the ship late afternoon in time for an English Tea in the dining room. On the second day we returned to the city and took a 'cabin train' through an underground tunnel beneath the Yangtze River with murals and flashing lights on the tunnel walls.
We departed at 2:30pm for another day at sea during which we attended more lectures on future stops, and we also attended a Captain's Brunch at mid-day, and a special Gala evening show in the evening. All the evening shows on board were West End standard and the ship's theatre was just like sitting in a London West End Theatre. Our next port of call was Fukuoka and again a free shuttle into town; it is the sixth largest city in Japan and is on the island of Kyushu. Local musicians played on the quayside as we sailed away. Busan in South Korea was our next stop and again a free shuttle into the city. We explored the many shops and markets which were very similar to those in Hong Kong. Then back on board ship for an early evening reception with the Captain and Senior Officers.
Source: UK Pionairs newsletter #311)
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