Japan is a fascinating balance of unique heritage and culture contrasting with the sprawling metropolises of the world’s most advanced technological civilisation. Made up of 6,852 islands, the perfect way to explore the Land of the Rising Sun is by sea. During our voyage we will visit the historic and serene castle town of Matsue and the ancient feudal town of Hagi, experience the tranquility of scared Miyajima and discover one of Japan’s most famed gardens, Koraku-en. Although we will also visit the awe-inspiring contemporary landscape of Tokyo, what makes our itinerary truly unique is our visits to parts of Japan where relatively few tourists set foot such as the remote and fascinating Oki Islands and our excursion inland to the picturesque five-storied Pagoda of Rurikoji Temple which dates back to 1442. In addition to our partial circumnavigation of Japan, our course takes us past the south eastern tip of Korea, where we will spend a day in Kyongju, the ‘Museum Without Walls’ and also visit the Haeinsa Temple, considered one of the three great temples in Korea.
• Enjoy a city tour of Tokyo
• Venture off the beaten track and call into the remote and fascinating Oki Islands
• Embark on a full-day excursion to magnificent Kyongju, a World Heritage Site, which is often described as the world’s finest openair museum embracing ancient Korean history and Buddhist culture
• Visit Miyajima, that considered one of Japan’s top scenic wonders
Make your way to the train station to join the bullet train to Niigata enjoying lunch along the way. On arrival in Niigata we will transfer to the MS Caledonian Sky. Enjoy Welcome Drinks and Dinner onboard. Sail this evening.
Kanazawa is a thriving centre of the arts, long known for its lacquer ware, outstanding collectible pottery of the Kutani style, gold-leaf workmanship and delicate hand-painting of silk for kimonos and Noh theatre dramas. The narrow and winding cobblestone streets have a quaint photogenic charm with old-fashioned streetlamps and wooden-lattice windows hiding elegant restaurants and craft galleries. Around each bend is a traditional house, museum, art gallery, craft shop, historic samurai residence and even a geisha house to explore. The fascinating open-air market displays a vast variety of items from flowers to fish and local handicrafts. Next to the Kanazawa Castle ruins is one of Japan’s premier highlights, the famed Kenroku-en Garden, ranked among the country’s top three gardens. Enjoy a morning garden visit and an afternoon city walking tour.
We have a real treat in store today as we will venture off the beaten track and call into the remote and fascinating Oki Islands. The archipelago is made up of four large inhabited islands and 180 smaller uninhabited islands. The natural beauty of the islands led to them being included in the Daisen- Oki National Park in 1963 and more recently, in 2013, they were classified as a UNESCO Global Geopark. From the port of Urago on Nishinoshima we will offer a choice of tours that will enable us to fully appreciate this tranquil and stunning part of Japan.
Called the ‘town of water,’ Matsue nestles between a scenic lake and a large lagoon. We will visit the cultural attractions of the town including the 17th century Matsue Castle before enjoying a boat ride on the local canals. This afternoon is free to relax or explore the town at leisure. Alternatively join a full day excursion visiting both Matsue Castle and the Adachi Museum of Art which is set in a beautiful natural environment and well known for both its superb Japanese gardens and its collection of contemporary Japanese paintings, comprising approximately 1500 of the country’s most highly regarded paintings produced after the Meiji period.
Hagi was a minor fishing port until Mori Terumoto fortified it in 1604 and it was Mori Samurai that helped spark off the anti-Tokugawa revolt in the mid-19th century. Today it is better known for its traditional pottery making traditions. On our morning tour we will explore the Teramachi District with its temples and shrines, the Jokamachi District, where we find the old samurai houses and also take time to explore Hagi Castle, Shizuki Park and Tokoji Temple. Return to the vessel for lunch and this afternoon is free to relax or perhaps travel to the outskirts of the city and the Yoshika Taibi Memorial Museum which is dedicated to a large collection of Hagiyaki pottery which was highly prized in the Edo Period as wares for tea ceremonies.
Today we embark on a full-day excursion to magnificent Kyongju, a World Heritage Site, which is often described as the world’s finest openair museum embracing ancient Korean history and Buddhist culture. As the ancient capital of the Shilla Dynasty, Kyongju’s cultural heritage dates back to the first millennium. Today, as we stroll through some of the hundreds of excavated monuments, temples, tombs and pagodas, there will be time to explore the National Museum with its exceptional collection of finely worked gold jewellery, metal weapons and distinctive pottery. At lunch time, we will sample Korean delicacies and enjoy a cultural performance of traditional dance.
From our berth in Masan we head inland to the Haeinsa Temple. Regarded as one of the three great temples in Korea, it was first settled in 802 AD and its name derives from a verse in a Buddhist Sutra as “reflections on a smooth sea”. In the 13th century when Korea was at war with the Mongols, the government commissioned the Triptaka Koreana, a complete copy of Buddhist scriptures, in the hope of Buddha’s intervention in the war. They were carved onto 81,258 double sided wooden blocks and stored on floor to ceiling shelves in the Janggyeong Panjeon building. We also visit the Daejokkwangjeon, the main worship hall of the temple. After lunch in a nearby restaurant we will return to Masan this afternoon, here you may want to visit the vibrant fish market selling the daily catch as well as dried and salted fish and seaweed and try a sample at one of the raw fish restaurants.
After a morning at sea we continue our exploration of Japan and visit some sites of historic, southern Yamaguchi prefecture. From our base at the port of Ube we travel inland to visit the picturesque five-storied Pagoda of Rurikoji Temple and the surrounding park. Dating back to 1442 the pagoda was built in memory of Yoshihiro Mori Terumoto who ruled the area during this period. We also hope to visit the Fujigochi Tea Plantation and enjoy a tour of the tea factory and plantation where the local Ono Tea is produced from 70 hectares of gentle rolling countryside.
Considered one of Japan’s top scenic wonders, Miyajima provides a picture postcard vista of the scarlet Torii gate, the giant camphor wood gates at the entrance to the Shinto Shrine. We will use the vessel’s Zodiacs to go ashore and explore the Itsukushima Jinja Shrine, founded in the 6th century and dedicated to three sea goddesses. The shrine is a designated World Heritage Site. Over lunch we sail to Hiroshima for our visit to the compelling Peace Memorial Park. The park is dotted with memorials, including the cenotaph which contains the names of all the known victims of the A-bomb and the permanently lit “Flame of Peace”. Just outside the park, the A-Bomb Dome is a haunting reminder of the destructive forces that were unleashed on the city being one of the few original buildings to survive. In the museum we will see photos, videos and victim’s personal effects relating to the bomb.
From the port of Uno-Ko we will visit one of Japan’s most famed gardens, Koraku-en, which translates as “Garden of pleasure after”. This 17th century formal garden has 28 acres of walking trails, ponds, plum and cherry trees, and a classic teahouse where we will experience a traditional tea ceremony. After a Japanese lunch in a local restaurant we will continue to Kurashiki where we explore the old merchant quarter and its fine 17th century wooden warehouses painted white with traditional black tiles, along a canal framed with weeping willows and filled with koi. There is also a chance to visit the Ohara Museum of Art which includes rare works by Matisse, Picasso and Renoir as well as collections from Japan’s mingei movement including ceramics by Hamada Shoji.
Today we arrive at Himeji where we will visit the recently renovated Himeji Castle. Built in the 16th century, Himeji Castle is a World Heritage Site and a national treasure being one of the few original feudal era fortresses remaining. The castle’s name means “white egret,” and the gleaming white walls that soar high above the plains below justify its name. A guided tour will take us through the castle, past the main keeps walls featuring “ishiotoshi”, narrow openings that allowed defending soldiers to fire arrows or pour boiling oil onto anyone trying to scale the walls. From the top of the keep there are wonderful views to the inland sea. Continue to the Himeji Koko-en, a reconstruction of the former samurai quarters containing nine Edo period style homes and gardens including koi ponds and intricately pruned trees. Return to the ship for lunch and this afternoon is free to explore further independently.
Disembark this morning in Kobe.
Suites on the Castle Deck measure 22.7 square metres and feature four port holes, en-suite bathroom with shower and spacious wardrobes.
Caledonian Superior Suite
Suites on the Caledonian Deck measure 21.6 square metres and feature en-suite bathrooms with bath tub and shower (except for suites 329, 330 and 331 which feature only a shower), spacious wardrobe and large window.
The Premium Suites on the Promenade Deck measure 20.2 square metres and feature a spacious wardrobe, en-suite bathroom with shower (cabins 431 and 432 feature a bathtub) and a large window.
Bridge Deluxe Balcony Suite
Balcony Suites The Premium Balcony Suites on the Promenade Deck measure 20.2 square metres and feature a walk-in wardrobe, en-suite bathroom with shower and a private balcony measuring 5.6
Promenade Prem. Balcony Suite
The Premium Balcony Suites on the Promenade Deck measure 20.2 square metres and feature a walk-in wardrobe, en-suite bathroom with shower and a private balcony measuring 5.6
Castle Standard Suite Sole
Sole Occupancy. Suites on the Castle Deck measure 22.7 square metres and feature four port holes, en-suite bathroom with shower and spacious wardrobes.
Caledonian Superior Suite Sole
Sole Occupancy. Suites on the Caledonian Deck measure 21.6 square metres and feature en-suite bathrooms with bath tub and shower (except for suites 329, 330 and 331 which feature only a shower), spacious wardrobe and large window.
Promenade Owner's Corner Suite
The two corner suites on the Promenade Deck measure 22.6 square metres and feature one window facing to the side and two forward facing portholes, a walk-in wardrobe and ensuite bathroom with shower.
Vessel Type: Luxury Expedition
Length: 90 metres
Passenger Capacity: 114 (in 57 suites)
Built: 1991 / refurbished 2012
The MS Caledonian Sky accommodates a maximum of 114 passengers in 57 spacious outside suites. Many have walk-in wardrobes and some feature tub baths. There will be seven categories of suites and sixteen suites will have private balconies. For those familiar with the MS Island Sky she will feel like a second home, although there are some differences. The dining room, lounge, Lido Deck and bar are all similar. However, the ‘Club’ on the MS Caledonian Sky has been transported to the very top deck. Here, there is a library and bar which leads out on to a lovely forward deck. The ‘Club’ has wonderful views with ceiling to floor windows.
If you like the MS Island Sky, we are sure you will also approve of her sister. And, of course it is important that we offer the very best of facilities. However, equally as important are the staff on board whether they are the vessel’s crew or our own expedition staff. Noble Caledonia’s reputation has been built on providing the very best in all areas. Their crew of 74 not only offer an excellent service they are also noted for their kindness and attention to detail. A well run ship with a warm atmosphere is what we are known for, and it is because most of our crew have been with us for many years that we are able to engender such an atmosphere.
Onboard there are 57 exceptionally spacious and well designed suites. The passenger accommodation is arranged over four decks and all suites have outside views. All feature a sitting room area and some have private balconies. Each affords considerable comfort with en-suite bathroom featuring a country style wash basin, hot towel rack and vanity unit with sink and walk-in shower and/or bath tub.
Facilities in the suites also include walk-in or spacious wardrobes, dressing table with large mirror and stool or desk, mini-fridge, flat screen television, telephone, programmable electronic safe, hairdryer, assorted toiletries, air-conditioning and heating. Bottled water, towelling dressing gowns and slippers are also provided for your comfort.
The spacious and finely decorated public rooms include a large lounge where daily briefings and talks will be provided throughout the voyage and an elegant bar where a pianist plays periodically throughout the day. The bar also features a 24-hour tea and coffee station. In addition there is the Club Lounge on the Panoramic Deck which features a bar. The onboard travel library is the perfect place to relax with a book and is stocked with reference books pertaining to the places the vessel is visiting along with a selection of games and two computers with internet access. Daily newspapers and magazines are also placed in the library depending on local availability. Outside there is a rear Lido deck where meals are served in warm weather under shade. On the top deck there is a further observation and sun deck with bar service and comfortable deck furniture for sun bathing or relaxing with a book. There is also a small gymnasium onboard and hairdressers with appointments made on request.
With only one sitting and a maximum of just over 100 passengers, the quality of cuisine will be of a consistent superior quality. Where possible and when it meets his high standards, our accomplished chef will obtain local produce in markets or buy the catch of the day from a passing fishing boat. Such purchases enhance the well stocked larders and bring a local touch to the varied menus. In the main elegant dining room, breakfast is served buffet-style, with certain items cooked to order and lunch and dinner is à la carte. When weather permits, breakfast, a buffet-style lunch and dinner are also served on deck. To enhance your dining experience even further a selection of wines are included with lunch and dinner. Afternoon tea is served in the lounge and tea and coffee are available 24 hours. With sufficient notice, most diets can be catered for on board.
For your comfort, safety and security
The vessel is equipped with the latest safety, navigation and communications equipment along with roll stabilisers to minimise the ship’s motion. The Captain and officers operate an open-bridge policy that allows passengers onto the bridge at most times with the exception of arrival and departure from port and during times of complicated navigation. Here you can check the ship’s progress by charts and learn more from the officers about your journey. There is also a dedicated channel on your television in your suite showing the routing of the vessel along with technical information and estimated times of arrival and departure from port. On board you will also find a clinic and doctor and a lift that serves all decks. Smoking on board is restricted to outside decks only.
Unlike many other cruise vessels, onboard the MS Caledonian Sky you do not need to worry about tipping staff as we have included them in your holiday price. In addition we tip all their guides and drivers along the way, thereby taking away the hassle of always having to remember to have some small change with you.