Discover Japan’s Ryukyu Islands on a Luxury Expedition Cruise with Abercrombie & Kent

Explore Japan’s rarely-visited Ryukyu Islands and the dynamic intersection of East and West in Taiwan and Hong Kong with Abercrombie & Kent on Japan, Hong Kong and the Ryukyu Islands Cruise (May 28 – June 12, 2017).

This expedition 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. Reach remote parts of the country with ease aboard the luxury, all-balcony ship, ‘L’Austral,’ exclusively chartered for just 199 guests, and staffed by A&K’s knowledgeable expedition team.

“This region of Japan has so much to offer, we’ve developed a choice of shore excursions,” explains Bob Simpson, Abercrombie & Kent’s Vice President, Expedition Cruising. “Some focus on history and culture, others on arts and crafts, and many on nature and wildlife. Because of the distinctive geography of the Ryukyu Islands, there are many active excursions, as well as leisurely afternoons to enjoy snorkeling and relaxing on remote islands.”

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, learn to carve your own chopsticks from 1,000-year-old Yakusugi Cedar. Embark on a Zodiac excursion to Toro-ki, a scenic waterfall cascading directly into the sea.

Explore Amami-oshima, a wild island paradise of mangrove forests, stunning deep blue waters and vibrant 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.

Relax on the sands of Miyako-Jima, a small volcanic island of crystal waters and pristine beaches. Snorkel coral reefs amongst sea turtles and other exotic marine life or enjoy a glass-bottom boat ride in Hagashi Henna Zaki Cape and visit the Makiyama Observatory.

Set foot on the island of Ishigaki, a tropical paradise bridging the cultures of Japan and Taiwan. Choose to spelunk a limestone cave and discover the ornate beauty of the Chinese influenced Toujin Tomb, visit the small island of Taketomi to see a traditional Ryukyu village adorned with thatched and tile-roofed houses, or take a ferry for a jungle cruise on the island of Iromotejima, home of the endemic and endangered Iromote cat.

To complement A&K’s award-winning expedition team, local experts provide a distinctly different point of view. Learn about the natural world from author and Japan Times columnist Mark Brazil; explore the intricacies of contemporary Japanese culture with expert Chieko Sakihana; get hands-on photography instruction from Richard Harker; and explore the richness of Asian architecture and garden design with author and Associate Professor Emeritus Dr. Lee Makela.

Cruise the Land of the Rising Sun in Incomparable Style
‘L’Austral’ features elegant guest quarters that are spacious and comfortable, each with its own balcony, and a choice of bedding configurations, including two-room, two-bath suites. Categories 6-8 on Deck 6 enjoy complimentary butler service. Stylish 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 ($16,995 when booked by August 31, 2016*). Built to carry up to 264 passengers, A&K limits guests aboard to 199. Fewer guests means more opportunities for shore excursions, with a guide-to-guest ratio of 1 to 12 and a crew-to-guest ratio of 1 to 1.4.

In addition to this new journey, A&K has scheduled an encore departure of Wonders of Japan Cruise (May 18-30, 2017), which quickly sold out last year. Explore both interior and coastal areas, reaching remote parts of the country and visiting ports with access to rarely-seen wilderness areas aboard ‘L’Austral.’ Thirteen days, priced from $16,495 ($14,995 when booked by August 31, 2016*).

Abercrombie & Kent’s luxury expedition cruises are one of the most inclusive ways to explore the islands of Japan, including pre- and post-cruise hotel stays and sightseeing, onboard lectures, shore excursions, equipment, most drinks, and crew and staff gratuities.

(Abercrombie & Kent)