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Immerse yourself in this incomparable culture of contrasts, where hi-tech cities live in harmony with ancient rituals and shrines

What we love: Treasured cultural traditions are complemented by the advanced technology, futuristic architecture and quirky gadgets that vie for your attention in Japan's neon-lit cities

Japan is a unique blend of ancient and modern. It's the home of countless natural wonders and cultural highlights, from ancient temples, traditional noodle houses and majestic Buddah statues to the sleek skyscrapers and neon lights of its big cities.

But there's perhaps no single experience as spellbindingly beautiful as that of Hanami, the custom of enjoying the transient beauty of cherry blossom.

Each spring, millions of Japanese residents and visitors wait with anticipation for the first buds of the pink cherry blossom - known as Sakura; the symbol of renewal, vitality and beauty - to bloom. Next year, you'll have the chance to experience it for yourself with our exceptional two-week cruise.

This cruise will take you far and wide through this fascinating land, and even includes a stop in South Korea.

Your trip begins and ends in Yokohama, where you'll find soaring skyscrapers contrasting with blooming gardens and traditional noodle houses. You'll also stop in Hiroshima, where you can learn about its devastating Second World War history, Osaka, where you can see some of the country's most beautiful shrines and temples, and Busan in South Korea, where you can enjoy the city's subtropical landscapes.

2024 departure: Your home for the duration of your trip will be the award-winning ship, Westerdam. There is plenty to keep you entertained as you travel from destination to destination, with regional cooking demonstrations and wine tastings, a range of evening entertainment, and even a learning centre, designed to deepen your understanding of the places you visit.

2025 departure: You will sail on the comfortable Noordam (named for the northern compass point) which dazzles with museum-quality art and lavish staterooms. You will have your pick of onboard activities - sing along to your favorite hits at Billboard Onboard, enjoy a Pilates class at the Fitness Center or savor the delights of one of the specialty restaurants. The Pinnacle Grill serves the juiciest steak at sea and Canaletto beckons with tantalizing Italian dishes.

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Price includes

  • Return flights from London Heathrow to Tokyo
  • Visit Tokyo, the largest city on earth
  • Explore Kochi and Tsuruga
  • Visit Hiroshima, the site of the explosion of the world's first atomic bomb
  • Cruise Toyama, UNESCO-endorsed 'Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club'
  • Taste okonomiyaki, a type of savoury pancake; Japanese sushi and sake
  • Marvel at traditional Japanese gardens and see the rice fields in the Tokamachi area
  • Discover Hokkaido, Japan's wild west
  • Transfers from Tokyo airport to hotel in Yokohama, port to Tokyo airport on return
  • One night pre cruise stay in a 4* hotel including breakfast
  • 14-night cruise, based on an inside cabin (upgrades available at a supplement)
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner onboard each day (drinks are not included)
  • Port Fees

Availability

From
Fri, Fri, Mar 28, 2025
To
Sun, Sun, Apr 13, 2025
Duration
17 Days
Price per person
£4,669*

* From price is per person, based on two people sharing a lead-in inside cabin, subject to availability. Price and itinerary correct at time of print but may be subject to change. Other departure dates are available, please call for details. Single supplement from £1699. Deposit: 30%. Local charges such as tourist tax may apply. Travel insurance is not included and should be taken out at time of booking. Images used may not reflect your actual tour experience. The Cherry Blossom season is a natural occurrence and therefore not guaranteed. This holiday may be sold through other selected brands. Tour is operated by and subject to the booking conditions of TS Travel Ltd (ATOL-bonded) and Holland America Line ABTA V8764 & ATOL 6294.

From
Thu, Thu, Mar 28, 2024
To
Sat, Sat, Apr 13, 2024
Duration
17 Days
Price per person
£4,199*
Sold out

* From price is per person, based on two people sharing a lead-in inside cabin, subject to availability. Other departure dates are available, please call for details. Price and itinerary correct at time of print but may be subject to change. Single supplement from £1119. Deposit: 30%. Local charges such as tourist tax may apply. Travel insurance is not included and should be taken out at time of booking. Images used may not reflect your actual tour experience. The Cherry Blossom season is a natural occurrence and therefore not guaranteed. This holiday may be sold through other selected brands. Tour is operated by and subject to the booking conditions of TS Travel Ltd (ATOL-bonded) and Holland America Line ABTA V8764 & ATOL 6294.

Call now to book 02039934304
Quote ref: GHK TST JAPANEXPLORER
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Itinerary

  1. Day
    1
    Depart from London
    Tokyo, Japan

    Depart London on your flight to Tokyo

  2. Day
    2
    Tokyo
    Tokyo, Japan

    You'll arrive in Tokyo today. You'll check into your four-star hotel, where you'll have time to rest and recharge after the flight and enjoy a good night's sleep.

  3. Day
    3
    Tokyo
    Tokyo, Japan

    Today you can explore the bustling city of Tokyo before you head to Yokohama where your cruise departs. Tokyo is the largest city on earth with so much to discover, see traditional Japanese gardens, immerse yourself in the sensational art scene or to head to one of the many world-famous restaurants before you start your cruise.

    Yokohama is one of Japan's buzziest, and most cosmopolitan, destinations. With its microbreweries and international restaurants, Yokohama has a decidedly different feel from many other Japanese cities, and you can soak in its unique atmosphere as you wander its fashionable streets.

    From Yokohama, it's a quick trip to peaceful Kamakura, home to Daibutsu, Japan's second largest bronze Buddha, and to the important Shinto shrine Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. It's also within easy reach of Hakone National Park, where on a clear day you'll be rewarded with picture-postcard views of majestic Mt. Fuji.

    You'll board your ship, the elegant Westerdam (2024 departure) or Noordam (2025 departure) this evening, as your 14-night cruise begins.

    Meals - Breakfast, Dinner
  4. Day
    4
    Day at sea
    At Sea, Japan

    2024 departure: You'll spend the day at sea on board the glorious Westerdam. There's plenty to keep you entertained on this spectacular ship. Perhaps you'll choose to head to the Greenhouse Spa and Salon for some pampering, or stop by at Explorations Central, play a game of pickleball with amazing top-deck views, or head to the Explorations Central, where experts will teach you more about the locations you'll be visiting.

    2025 departure: You'll spend the day at sea on board the wonderful Noordam where there's plenty to keep you occupied. Perhaps head to the fitness centre for a Pilates class, sing along to your favorite hits at Billboard Onboard or enjoy a meal at one of the specialty restaurants.

    Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  5. Day
    5
    Osaka or Kochi
    Osaka, Japan

    2024 departure: Your first port of call will be Osaka, a modern city on Honshu. Nothing is old here, as the city was flattened during the Second World War. Its reconstruction didn't bring with it much in the way of parks or green space, and the sheer amount of concrete and steel sights can be overwhelming.

    But Osaka has plenty of attractions, and visitors rarely find themselves getting bored. There are busy markets to shop in, and the visual noise of neon and nonstop action on shopping streets offer insight into the energy and ambition of Osaka.

    And if you do find yourself tiring of the city's slightly chaotic energy, Osaka is less than an hour from some of the most beautiful temples, shrines and ancient Japanese tourist attractions in the world-some over 1000 years old - waiting in the old capitals of Kyoto and Nara.

    2025 departure: Today you will visit Kochi, a gem on the Pacific Ocean. One of the city's main attractions is Kochi Castle, one of the few castles in Japan to have maintained its original wooden structure. This 17th-century castle sits high on a hilltop where it was once the seat of the Yamauchi lords.

    You'll explore this historic site and enjoy panoramic views of the city, before dining on authentic sushi at the nearby Hirome Market.

    Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  6. Day
    6
    Kochi or Kagoshima
    Kochi, Japan

    2024 departure: Your next stop is Kochi, a gem on the Pacific Ocean. One of the city's main attractions is Kochi Castle, one of the few castles in Japan to have maintained its original wooden structure. This 17th-century castle sits high on a hilltop where it was once the seat of the Yamauchi lords.

    You'll explore this historic site and enjoy panoramic views of the city, before dining on authentic sushi at the nearby Hirome Market.

    2025 departure: Your next stop is Kagoshima, situated at the southern tip of Japan, the capital of the prefecture of the same name and famous for its dramatic views of Sakurajima, an active volcano that smolders across the bay. A popular activity is taking a ferry to Sakurajima and hiking on the 100-year-old lava flow that is now a grassy peninsula.

    However Kagoshima offers much more than the volcano's almost overwhelming beauty. There is a thriving food scene - the area has a rich culinary culture and features dishes using locally caught fish and regional specialties, like satsuma a'ge (deep-fried fish cake) and shōchū, a traditional beverage made at more than 100 distilleries in Kagoshima alone.

    Although the city was officially founded in 1889, it has an even longer history that is reflected in the 17th-century gardens of Sengan-en. More recent events are covered at a museum dedicated to the kamikaze pilots who flew out of Kagoshima. Other popular attractions include the City Aquarium, the Museum of the Meiji Restoration with its exhibits exploring local history and the City Museum of Art with its collection that covers both local contemporary and older art.

    Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  7. Day
    7
    Hiroshima or Nagasaki
    Hiroshima, Japan

    2024 departure: Today's stop is in Hiroshima, in southwest Japan. Set within a striking natural landscape of mountains, sea and rivers, and some to more than one million inhabitants, Hiroshima is perhaps most famous as the site of the explosion of the world's first atomic bomb, dropped by the U.S. in August 1945. This tragedy is sensitively documented at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and associated Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

    In addition to the war memorials, there is an array of shrines and temples, as well as the city's reconstructed castle, which was originally founded in the 16th century. Nature lovers will be charmed by the historic Shukkei-en Garden, commissioned in 1620, and Miyajima island, one of the most scenic spots in Japan.

    The city is home to a number of art institutions, including the Hiroshima Museum of Art, which houses a collection of Impressionist and Japanese oil paintings, the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art and the quirky Mazda Museum.

    2025 departure: Today's spot is Nagasaki in the northwest of Kyushu, the third-largest island in Japan. Nagasaki is one of the country's most cosmopolitan port cities with fascinating past that stretches back to the early 7th century and a picturesque harbor.

    The city is a buzzy yet relaxed place with several cultural and historic attractions that are easily explored on foot and via public transportation. Check out the Nagasaki Peace Park and Atomic Bomb Museum, which outline the horrific bombing of the city during World War II while making a poignant pledge for world peace. Foodies will enjoy the flavours to be found in Chinatown and the Shianbashi Gourmet Street.

    Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  8. Day
    8
    Busan, South Korea
    Busan, South Korea

    Today you'll arrive in Busan, South Korea. The country's second largest city after Seoul, Busan combines a vibrant, big-city atmosphere with a famously laid-back attitude and subtropical landscapes.

    Cultural highlights include the Gamcheon Cultural Village; the spectacular Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, built into the side of a cliff; and Art Street in Sinchang-dong, which hosts art competitions, exhibitions and cultural events such as the annual Busan International Film Festival. Those who enjoy hiking can explore the famed cliffs of Taejongdae Park, while the white sand beaches at Gwangalli and Haeundae are ideal places to relax by the seashore.

    Foodies will love Busan, too, not just for its excellent restaurants but also for the many atmospheric markets: the low-key Millak Hoe Town Market, tourist spots like Jagalchi Fish Market and the market at Haeundae with its ramshackle stalls selling gukpab (a traditional rice soup).

    Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  9. Day
    9
    Sakaiminato, Japan or At Sea
    Sakaiminato, Japan

    2024 departure: Sakaiminato is home to Shigeru Mizuki, creator of GeGeGe no Kitaro, a character who's everywhere in contemporary Japan. This city is also the gateway to the ancient region of Honshu, where you can visit the famous 'Black Castle' in the Japanese Alps.

    Some other activities and excursions you can choose from today include visits to Yushien Garden, a traditional water gardens known for displays of vibrant peonies, the Adachi Museum with its collection of modern Japanese art, and the Izumo-taisha, one of the most ancient and important Shinto shrines in Japan.

    2025 departure: You will spend today at sea.

    Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  10. Day
    10
    Tsuruga or Kanazawa
    Tsuruga, Japan

    2024 departure: The sleepy little port city of Tsuruga is home to the intimate Kehi Shrine, with its red-lacquered Torii gate and koi pond. You can learn about the fascinating history of the town at the Tsuruga Museum and later dine on grilled seafood like a local at Nihonkai Sakana Machi.

    Other activities you can participate in today include a visit to Hikone Castle and Nagahama, a discovery of the Eiheiji Temple and Ichijodani Asakura Clans Ruins, and a chopsticks-making lesson.

    2025 departure: Kanazawa is a bustling hub on the shores of the Sea of Japan, with ships arriving and departing for South Korea, Russia and China. The port is just west of the city center, a former samurai town that was once one of the largest in Japan. Like Kyoto, the city escaped bombing in World War II, and its historic buildings provide a glimpse of old Japan. Of the three teahouse (chaya) neighborhoods, the most famous is the charming Higashi Chaya District.

    Sophisticated restaurants serve delicious Kaga cuisine, which highlights the bounty of the sea. Shops sell Kaga-nui pottery, Kutani porcelain and other handicrafts. Major sights include Kenrokuen-a 17th-century garden that is a high point of landscape design in Japan-and Kanazawa Castle and its park. At the Kanazawa Noh Museum, visitors can learn about Noh theater and storytelling, while the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art features both Japanese and international artists (it's located next to Kenrokuen).

    Nearby, there are hot springs to bathe in and the natural beauty of the Japanese Alps, Hakusan National Park and Noto Peninsula National Park.

    Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  11. Day
    11
    Toyama or Niigata
    Toyama, Japan

    2024 departure: Japan's lush natural splendours will be on full display as you cruise Toyama. Freshwater springs feed this spectacular bay, a bay so scenic, it belongs to the UNESCO-endorsed Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club.

    Visitors from around the globe come to this region to see the ancient villages, thatched-roof farmhouses, and incredible snow corridor. Even if you don't make it out to the countryside on a Toyama cruise, there's plenty to see and do in this coastal city. Visit the Toyama Castle, an impressive reconstruction of the 1543 original. Take the railway up to Mount Tateyama, the highest mountain in the range, or cruise through a cherry blossom tunnel on the Matsukawa River.

    Whatever activity you do, take time to savour the region's renowned seafood.

    2025 departure: Located along the rugged coast of the Sea of Japan, Niigata is loved for its natural beauty and high-quality sake. The port acts as a gateway to serene Sado Island, once a place to send political exiles. The island is now a vacation destination and home of the last wild Japanese Crested Ibis (Toki), a large, delicate bird with rosy plumage. Toki Forest Park offers a chance to learn more about conservation efforts and to view the birds.

    If you don't want to make the trip to Sado, there's plenty to do near the Niigata cruise port. Art and history enthusiasts can look at paintings, sculptures, calligraphy and more at the Northern Culture Museum. Or step back in time at the Minatopia Niigata City History Museum, a cluster of late 19th-century Western-style buildings along the serene Shinano riverbank. Pristine landscapes surround Niigata. Unwind in open-air thermal hot springs and refresh with a stroll through a forest, known as shinrinyoku or forest bathing. See the breathtaking rice fields of the Tokamachi area, especially resplendent after rainfall. Or head to the Kiyotsu Gorge, a canyon with a tunnel that winds along the river.

    Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  12. Day
    12
    Niigata or At Sea
    Niigata, Japan

    2024 departure: Located along the rugged coast of the Sea of Japan, Niigata is loved for its natural beauty and high-quality sake. The port acts as a gateway to serene Sado Island, once a place to send political exiles. The island is now a vacation destination and home of the last wild Japanese Crested Ibis (Toki), a large, delicate bird with rosy plumage. Toki Forest Park offers a chance to learn more about conservation efforts and to view the birds.

    If you don't want to make the trip to Sado, there's plenty to do near the Niigata cruise port. Art and history enthusiasts can look at paintings, sculptures, calligraphy and more at the Northern Culture Museum. Or step back in time at the Minatopia Niigata City History Museum, a cluster of late 19th-century Western-style buildings along the serene Shinano riverbank. Pristine landscapes surround Niigata. Unwind in open-air thermal hot springs and refresh with a stroll through a forest, known as shinrinyoku or forest bathing. See the breathtaking rice fields of the Tokamachi area, especially resplendent after rainfall. Or head to the Kiyotsu Gorge, a canyon with a tunnel that winds along the river.

    2025 departure: You will spend today at sea.

    Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  13. Day
    13
    Day at sea or Otaru
    At Sea, Japan

    2024 departure: You'll have another full day at sea today on board Westerdam to relax and recharge after a busy few days. Perhaps you'd like to indulge in a spa treatment, make the most of the onboard entertainment, or explore the dining traditions of Southeast Asia, China and Japan in the onboard restaurant Tamarind - it's been said that the cuisine here rivals some of the top restaurants on land.

    2025 departure: Today the Noordam docks in Otaru, a small harbour city with a beautifully preserved canal area and fascinating herring mansions, a relic from the time when pretty Otaru was Asia's flourishing herring capital.

    From the early days of Hokkaido's colonisation in the late 1800s, Otaru served as a major trade and fishing port. It was hence chosen as the terminal station of Hokkaido's first railway line that connected the port with nearby Sapporo. You can also choose to explore Sapporo today, a city famous for its beer, skiing and annual Sapporo Snow Festival featuring enormous ice sculptures.

    Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  14. Day
    14
    Otaru or Aomori
    Otaru, Japan

    2024 departure: Today the Westerdam docks in Otaru, a small harbour city with a beautifully preserved canal area and fascinating herring mansions, a relic from the time when pretty Otaru was Asia's flourishing herring capital.

    From the early days of Hokkaido's colonisation in the late 1800s, Otaru served as a major trade and fishing port. It was hence chosen as the terminal station of Hokkaido's first railway line that connected the port with nearby Sapporo. You can also choose to explore Sapporo today, a city famous for its beer, skiing and annual Sapporo Snow Festival featuring enormous ice sculptures.

    2025 departure: Traditionally, Aomori was simply the place you caught the ferry to when you were going to Hokkaido; at one time it was considered that you were pretty much at the edge of the civilized world. The small Tsugaru Strait that separates Honshu from Hokkaido isn't big-only about 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) at its narrowest point-but it's ecologically important: Hokkaido has animals related to northern Asia, whereas Honshu's are more closely related to southern Asia's. The strait is also famous for sudden, very rough weather and for no shortage of shipwrecks.

    The city was flattened in World War II, so there isn't much history left to see. Still, it's a lovely area, and because the town is still the major gateway to Hokkaido, the city has money to spend on architecture and parks. Its setting on the edge of Mutsu Bay means you will often be surprised by lovely water views through the buildings. The old way of thinking of Aomori is over.

    Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  15. Day
    15
    Hakodate
    Hakodate, Japan

    Today you'll explore Japan's 'wild west' - Hokkaido. Hokkaido is the only spot among Japan's primary islands where a non-Japanese indigenous culture has survived relatively intact, at least as an identity if not a lifestyle. You'll see cornerstones of Ainu culture here, like the beautiful attush robes and a distinct cuisine.

    Activities you can choose from today include a trip to a local market, a visit to Goryokaku Park, and an exploration of Onuma Quasi-National Park.

    Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  16. Day
    16
    Day at Sea
    At Sea, Japan

    You'll have another day at sea today to make the most of Westerdam's facilities before the end of your cruise. Perhaps you'll spend time in Explorations Central, deepening your knowledge of the places you've visited on this unforgettable cruise.

    Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  17. Day
    17
    Yokohama
    Yokohama, Japan

    You'll dock back in Yokohama early this morning. If you have a late flight, you might choose to spend some more time exploring the region. There will be the chance to visit the Meiji Shrine in nearby Shibuya before transferring to the airport for your flight home.

Accommodation

MS Westerdam

0
Cruise ship

A classic and comfortable ship with spacious cabins and a wealth of on-board entertainment

Recently renovated, the MS Westerdam takes 1916 passengers and has new public spaces and entertainment venues including the Lincoln Center Stage, featuring world-class musicians performing chamber music and B.B. King's Blues Club. There's excellent food in all seven restaurants, America's Test Kitchen which offers step-by-step cooking demonstrations, a spa, fitness centre and large open-air pool plus spacious staterooms which all have DVD players and flat-screen TVs.

MS Noordam

5
Cruise ship

The Noordam carries nearly 2000 passengers, has fantastic entertainment spaces, and boasts excellent restaurants, a spa, fitness centre and a large open-air pool, plus spacious staterooms.

Named for the Northern compass point, guests onboard Noordam can enjoy cooking shows and hands-on workshops in partnership with America's Test Kitchen, explore the world's wonders through BBC Earth Experiences, take yoga or Pilates in the Fitness Center, savor the sounds of Music Walk™ and the delights of the ship's specialty resturants.

Brought to you by

TS Tours in partnership with Holland America Line
This tour is operated solely by TS Tours
TS Tours, which specialises in bespoke and expert-led tours, is working in partnership with Holland America Line

Our travel partner TS Tours Ltd which specialises in bespoke and expert-led tours, is working in partnership with Holland America Line, leaders in cruising with award-winning service and worldwide itineraries.

To view TS Tours in partnership with Holland America Line’s supplier’s terms and conditions click here.

This tour is protected by the following:

Availability

From
Thu, Thu, Mar 28, 2024
To
Sat, Sat, Apr 13, 2024
Duration
17 Days
Price per person
£4,199*
Sold out

* From price is per person, based on two people sharing a lead-in inside cabin, subject to availability. Other departure dates are available, please call for details. Price and itinerary correct at time of print but may be subject to change. Single supplement from £1119. Deposit: 30%. Local charges such as tourist tax may apply. Travel insurance is not included and should be taken out at time of booking. Images used may not reflect your actual tour experience. The Cherry Blossom season is a natural occurrence and therefore not guaranteed. This holiday may be sold through other selected brands. Tour is operated by and subject to the booking conditions of TS Travel Ltd (ATOL-bonded) and Holland America Line ABTA V8764 & ATOL 6294.

From
Fri, Fri, Mar 28, 2025
To
Sun, Sun, Apr 13, 2025
Duration
17 Days
Price per person
£4,669*

* From price is per person, based on two people sharing a lead-in inside cabin, subject to availability. Price and itinerary correct at time of print but may be subject to change. Other departure dates are available, please call for details. Single supplement from £1699. Deposit: 30%. Local charges such as tourist tax may apply. Travel insurance is not included and should be taken out at time of booking. Images used may not reflect your actual tour experience. The Cherry Blossom season is a natural occurrence and therefore not guaranteed. This holiday may be sold through other selected brands. Tour is operated by and subject to the booking conditions of TS Travel Ltd (ATOL-bonded) and Holland America Line ABTA V8764 & ATOL 6294.

Call now to book 02039934304
Quote ref: GHK TST JAPANEXPLORER