Sail Japan’s Ryukyu Islands With Abercrombie & Kent

Osaka Castle // Photo by Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau/Japan National Tourism Organization
Osaka Castle // Photo by Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau/Japan National Tourism Organization

Abercrombie & Kent has announced a new Japan, Hong Kong and the Ryukyu Islands Cruise taking place from May 28 - June 12, 2017. 

The cruise follows the arc of islands south from Osaka, spanning seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a diverse spectrum of tropical climate zones with unique flora and fauna. Guests will travel aboard the all-balcony L’Austral, exclusively chartered for 199 guests and staffed by A&K’s expedition team. 

Bob Simpson, Abercrombie & Kent’s vice president, product operations & small ships, said that shore excursions will focus on history, culture, arts and crafts, nature and wildlife. Because of the distinctive geography of the Ryukyu Islands, there will be many active excursions, as well as opportunities for snorkeling. 

Yakushima Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, spans every climate zone found in Japan. Guests can choose from a number of hikes exploring the ancient cedar forests, waterfalls and boardwalk trails of Yakusugi Land Nature Park. Under the guidance of one of the island’s expert craftsmen, travelers will learn to carve their own chopsticks from 1,000-year-old Yakusugi Cedar. Guests can also embark on a Zodiac excursion to Toro-ki, a scenic waterfall cascading directly into the sea.

In Amami-oshima, the itinerary will visit mangrove forests and coral reefs, often compared to the Galápagos. Here A&K Philanthropy is helping to preserve the endangered Amami rabbit, native to the island for some 100 million years.

Miyako-Jima, a small volcanic island, will offer opportunities for relaxing on the beach, snorkeling among coral reefs and sea turtles, enjoying a glass-bottom boat ride in Hagashi Henna Zaki Cape and visiting the Makiyama Observatory.

Ishigaki, which bridges the cultures of Japan and Taiwan, will give guests the choice of spelunking in a limestone cave and visiting the ornate, Chinese-influenced Toujin Tomb or visiting the small island of Taketomi to see a traditional Ryukyu village adorned with thatched and tile-roofed houses. Travelers can also take a ferry for a jungle cruise on the island of Iromotejima, home of the endemic and endangered Iromote cat.

In additoin to the A&K expedition team, guests will also have the chance to learn from local experts Mark Brazil, an author and Japan Times columnist; contemporary Japanese culture specialist Chieko Sakihana; photographer Richard Harker; and author and Associate Professor Emeritus Dr. Lee Makela.

Each of the staterooms on L’Austral comes with its own balcony. Guests can choose from a variety of bedding configurations, including two-room, two-bath suites. Categories 6-8 on Deck 6 enjoy complimentary butler service. Common areas, including a theater, two spacious lounges and a small library invite casual conversation with fellow passengers and expedition staff members, as well as space for private reflection in quiet corners. A full-service salon, steam room, spa and fitness center complete the amenities.

Japan, Hong Kong & the Ryukyu Islands Cruise (May 28 - June 12, 2017) is 16 days, priced from $19,995 per person, double occupancy (when booked by August 31, 2016). Built to carry up to 264 passengers, A&K limits guests aboard to 199.