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Seaside Buddhist temple in Busan

Cultural and Natural Treasures of Japan by Sea – with Smithsonian Journeys

Maizuru - Hakodate - Example 8 Day Cruise aboard Le Soleal
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Set sail on this 8-day cruise along Japan's northern coast aboard Le Soleal from Maizuru offers a superb introduction to its traditions and customs through a wide variety of carefully curated shore excursions in each port of call. An opportunity to sample feudal castles, Buddhist temples, modern art, tea ceremonies, artisanal crafts, landscaped gardens, and the wonders of nature. Your first port of call, Sakaiminato, offers options like Matsue Castle, the Adachi Museum of Art, and Yushien Garden, a landscape garden famous for its peonies. The South Korean port of Busan offers a similar range of experiences. Then to Kanazawa for a chance to explore the world-famous Kenroku-en Garden. The final two ports of call are Ogi and Sakata, where Japan's natural beauty takes center stage. Your cruise ends in Hakodate.
Osaka's city lights after sunsetCherry blossoms frame Osaka castleTemple garden in Busan, South KoreaHaedong Yonggungsa TempleAdachi Museum of ArtSeaside Buddhist temple in Busan
Highlights
  • Explore the world-famous Kenroku-en Garden.
  • Discover the ancient center of Silla culture at Gyeongju.
  • View outstanding modern Japanese paintings at the Adachi Museum in Matsue.
  • Visit the stunning Buddhist temples in Busan.
Places Visited
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Maizuru | Embark

Located on the western coast of Honshu island, in the province of Kyoto, the charming town of Maizuru boasts one of Japan’s most exquisite closed bays. A climb to the observatory allows to appreciate the splendor of this inlet scattered with tiny wild islands. Visitors can also admire the treasures of traditional architecture by visiting the temple of Enryu-ji or the Tanabe-jo castle. The town also bears traces of a rich military past, which you can see in the old arsenals of the navy, red brick buildings that today house a museum.

Day 2: Sakaiminato

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Located on the south-west coast of Honshu Island, the busy fishing port of Sakaiminato celebrates the comic writer and artist Shigeru Mizuki, who was born here. As well as a museum a dedicated tourist route leads through streets and squares that feature 134 bronze statues representing his beloved characters. This isn't the only thing Sakaiminato has to offer; try some local seafood specialities and enjoy the stunning views of Mt Daisen and the Yumigahama peninsula.

Day 3: Busan

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
With around four million inhabitants, Busan is the second largest metropolis on South Korea, after Seoul. This dynamic harbor city, located in the south-east, surrounded by the warm waters of the Sea of Japan, benefits from a mild, pleasant climate. You’ll find delightful simply to stroll around the lively streets and explore the city’s outstanding cultural heritage of art galleries, museums, and Buddhist sites, such as the Haedong Yonggungsa temple, which elegantly sits on the waterfront. Rich too in magnificent beaches and superlative natural landscapes, Busan’s peaceful atmosphere will win you over, as will its inhabitants, whom you’ll have the pleasure of meeting.

Day 4: At Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
During your journey at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness center. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This journey without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, depending on the activities offered, or to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the PONANT photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.

Day 5: Kanazawa

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Located on the island of Honshu and bathed by the waters of the Sea of Japan, Kanazawa is a port marked by history. Under the predominance of the Maeda clan in the Meiji era, the city came under multiple political and cultural influences that shaped its landscape. Throughout the town, you'll discover many signs of its rich past: Kanazawa Castle, Kenroku-en, one of the most beautiful and famous gardens in Japan, and the old geisha district, Higashi-Chayagai. Õmicho Ichiba market in the town center is well worth a visit, particularly for freshly cooked seafood.

Day 6: Ogi, Niigata

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The small town of Ogi on Sado Island's South coast is best-known for its tarai-bune, small round boats that were originally used for harvesting seaweed and shells. You can take a trip in one at Ogi Port and nearby nearby Yajima and Kyojima. Shukunegi village, about four kilometers from Ogi, is a fascinating place to visit some of the houses in the former shipbuilding center were built with wood salvaged from boats. Other points of interest include Sado History Museum and the old gold mines; and every year the island hosts Earth Celebration, a music festival.

Day 7: Sakata

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Nestling on the shores of the Sea of Japan, in the Tôhoku region in the north of the island of Honshu, Sakata will enchant you with its folkloric atmosphere and its authentic and traditional architecture. This emblematic city has retained the scents, flavors and certain traditions of the time of Kitamae, a shipping route along which Japanese merchants travelled in the 18th century, extending from Otaru to Osaka. The succession of Sankyo warehouses where rice was once stored stand as a testament to that time and are now the symbols of a strong industrial heritage.

Day 8: Hakodate | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Located opposite the straits of Tsugaru, for a long time Hakodate was the only entry point to the island of Hokkaido, in the north of Japanese archipelago. Because of its age-old trading activity with other countries, the town has an unusual architectural landscape, combining traditional Japanese buildings with more Western constructions. You can take a pleasant stroll along the bayᅠ to check out the many boutiques and restaurants, while taking a foodie break to eat a bowl of ramen noodles. ᅠMt Hakodate towers above the town; hike or take the cable car to the summit for fantastic views.

Ship/Hotel

Le Soleal

Enjoy a show in the movie theater.
Bar and lounge with a view.
Restaurant aboard the Le Soleal.

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$7,580
Rates are dynamic and fluctuate based on capacity. Contact us for a specific quote.
Superior Stateroom
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Superior Stateroom
The Superior Stateroom has a capacity of up to 3 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds.
Deluxe Stateroom
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Deluxe Stateroom
The Deluxe Stateroom has a capacity of up to 2 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds and a private balcony.
Prestige Stateroom
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 4
The Prestige Stateroom on Deck 4 has a capacity of up to 2 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds and a private balcony.
Prestige Stateroom
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 5
The Prestige Stateroom on Deck 5 has a capacity of up to 2 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds and a private balcony.
Prestige Stateroom
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 6
The Prestige Stateroom on Deck 6 has a capacity of up to 2 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds and a private balcony.
Deluxe Suite
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Deluxe Suite
The Deluxe Suite has a capacity of up to 2 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds and a private balcony.
Prestige Suite
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Prestige Suite Deck 5
The Prestige Suite on Deck 5 has a capacity of up to 4 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds and an 8m² private balcony.
Prestige Suite
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Prestige Suite Deck 6
The Prestige Suite on Deck 6 has a capacity of up to 4 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds and an 8m² private balcony.
Owner's Suite
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Owner Suite
The Owner's suite is situated on Deck 6 with a capacity up to 2 passengers per cabin. With a king-sized bed, it has been decorated by French interior designers and provides you with a breathtaking panoramic sea view.

Notes

Please note:
Fares are based on double occupancy and are capacity controlled. Rates may increase at any time as the ship sells out and are subject to change without notice.

Discounts are available for children sharing a cabin with two adults and third adult passengers in select cabin categories. Please contact us for details.

Single travelers can opt for a solo cabin - supplements start at 50%.
Included
  • 7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 7 Dinners
  • 7 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Port Fees
  • Unlimited Wifi
  • Onboard Entertainment 
  • Captain’s Welcome Cocktail and Gala Dinner
  • Gratuities to Onboard Crew
  • “Open Bar” (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands...list available upon request)
  • 24h Room Service (special selection)
  • English-Speaking Lecturer 
  • Highly experienced and bilingual (French-English) expedition staff
  • Park Entry Fees into Protected Areas
  • Water sports activities (except scuba diving) using the ship’s equipment, when permitted by local authorities and confirmed by ship Master according to safety and sea conditions onsite. 
Excluded
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Visa Fees
  • Optional Excursions - Ponant allows you to pre-book your excursions approximately six to two months prior to the cruise* departure. Please note that this is subject to change. Please contact us for more details.
  • Any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones mentioned
  • Luggage Handling 
  • Laundry Services, Hair Salon, and à La Carte Spa Treatments
  • Pre or post cruise programs, overland programs or shore excursions 
  • Beverages other than the ones mentioned in inclusions
  • CDP recommends that every Traveler has full and adequate travel insurance covering the risks of cancellation, assistance being required, repatriation, damages to and loss of baggage, and medical expenses

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Kate was great to work with in the planning stage. She was prompt, helpful, and efficient. Our tour guide, Edwin, was knowledgeable and passionate. We were very happy to have traveled with Adventure Life, it made the trip easy and a true pleasure. We could concentrate on enjoying the experience rather than the details of travel.
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