Shipboard Credit of $150 per person!
* 19 days/18 nights from Anchorage, AK to Kobe, Japan
* Cruise & Land cost from $8,339 per person (excludes above discount/credit)
* Departures: September 10, 2009.
The distant and isolated Kuril Islands, a paradise of bird and marine wildlife, contain over 100 volcanos, 35 of which are still active. Begin your journey to Anchorage, cruise through the Bering Sea past the Aleutians to the Kamchtka Coast, through the Kuril Islands into Japan's northern islands of Hokkaido and Honshu, ending up in Kobe.
This is unparalleled exploration cruising along the Kamchatka coast, through the Kuril Islands, and into Japan’s northern islands of Hokkaido and Honshu. Enjoy dramatic scenery, and encounter the region’s ancient cultures and fascinating people whose lives are rarely touched by outsiders. Keep your binoculars handy for viewing unique wildlife and birds and adding to your lifelist. This itinerary offers opportunities to look for Asian Rosy-Finches, Peregrine Falcons, Slaty-backed Gulls, Common Murres, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Tufted Puffins, Northern Fulmars, Steller’s Sea-Eagles, and Harlequin Ducks.
Of special interest are the Red-faced Cormorant on Audubon’s Red Watch List and the Whiskered Auklet on Audubon’s Yellow Watch List.
The Kuril Islands are a chain of over 50 heavily-forested and volcanic islands – paradise for birdwatchers and twitchers. Once inhabited by the Ainu, who are thought to be descendants of migrating Mongolians, these islands are home to over 100 volcanoes, 35 of which are active. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime voyage through some of the most unusual terrain on earth. Conclude your journey in Kobe, where the ancient melds with the modern in a juxtaposition of unique contrasts.
Upon arrival, transfer to the comfortable Sheraton Anchorage Hotel overlooking Cook Inlet and the Chugach Mountains. Meet fellow travelers this evening at a welcome dinner. (D)
After a hearty breakfast at the Sheraton and a morning tour of Anchorage, transfer to Seward and set sail aboard the Spirit of Oceanus. (B,D)
One of the largest fishing ports in the nation, Kodiak (Alaska's "Emerald Isle") is famous for its lush, green summer months as well as for its abundance of brown bears. Enjoy tours of the Baranov Museum, the Alutiiq Museum and the Fish Tech Center. (B,L,D)
Cruise in the wake of the Bering Expedition of 1741. While humans are sparse, the islands are home to abundant seabirds, including auklets and puffins, plus fur seals and Steller's sea lions. (B,L,D)
The "Crossroads of the Aleutian Islands," Unalaska has undergone sweeping change in its thousands of years of human history. Learn about the days of Russian fur traders at the Museum of the Aleutians and explore the Russian church. Dutch Harbor, Unalaska's port city, is the only place in North America besides Pearl Harbor bombed by Japanese zeros during WWII. Explore bunkers, barracks and artifacts at the World War II Memorial Park. (B,L,D)
Relax aboard the Spirit of Oceanus and enjoy a day whale watching at sea. Look for humpbacks, orca and blue whales plus the rare short-tailed albatross. Listen to presentations by your team of onboard naturalists. (B,L,D)
Kiska was occupied by Japanese forces for over a year during WWII. Today we visit the haunting remnants of their encampment as we take time to observe the native flora found here. Now uninhabited, the island is home to Lapland Longsurs and Rosie finches and has been declared a National Historic Landmark and a part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. (B,L,D)
Attu is the most remote of the Aleutian Islands and therefore one of the most rarely visited regions in the United States. Pristine and peaceful, this bird-watcher's paradise, is a refuge for many bird species, including the Brambling, Tufted Duck and an occasional Siberian Rubythroat. (B,L,D)
We lose a day as we cross the International Date Line. (B,L,D)
Perched on the shore of a protected bay, Petropavlovsk was established in 1740 and remains one of the oldest settlements of the Russian Far East. With the Avacha and Koryak volcanos to the north and majestic Avacha Bay to the south, Petropavlovsk is surrounded by stunning natural beauty. A city tour introduces you to this outpost of Russian culture, including one of the country's few surviving Lenin statues. (B,L,D)
Atlasova's black-sand beaches and 7,675-foot volcano - the highest in the Kurils - give the island a dramatic, mysterious appeal. Explore an abandoned prison for Russian women as well as lakes, scrub and hills of volcanic ash on a nature walk. Keep an eye out for Asian rosy finches, peregrines and slatey-backed gulls. (B,L,D)
Exploring The Remote Kuril Islands And Yankicha Island Thousands of seabirds and hundreds of sea lions and fur seals greet us with a cacophonous welcome as we explore the islands of this rarely visited pristine wilderness. Explore Yankicha Island's bubbling mud vents and hot springs. Be on the lookout for for whiskered auklets that breed here. (B,L,D)
Spend a relaxing day at sea. (B,L,D)
Today we arrive in Japan for a visit to Kushiro Shitsugen National Park, home of Japan's sacred red-crowned cranes, the brown bear, Yezo deer and Sakhalin taimen, the most ancient species of salmon on Earth. (B,L,D)
Another relaxing day at sea as you journey to more adventures in Japan. (B,L,D)
Matsushima's spectacular bay features 250 tiny islands, or shima, blanketed in pines, or matsu, hence its name. A dramatic monument to natural forces, Matsushima has earned recognition as one of Japan's Nihon Sankei (Three Great Sights). Visit the fabled Zen Temple of Zuiganji founded in A.D. 828. (B,L,D)
Cruise the scenic coast of Honshu, the largest of Japan's islands, as we make our way south. . (B,L,D)
Dating back to the 3rd century, Ise-jingu is Japan's most sacred Shinto shrine. From the port city of Toba we'll head inland to explore the shrine and its surrounding countryside of ancient forests of giant cryptomeria trees. (B,L,D)
Disembark in Kobe for a tour of Himeji (White Egret) Castle, Japan's most beautiful stronghold. Transfer to the airport for your return flight home. (B,L,D)
* 2009 Cruises: Shipboard Credit of $150 per person!
The costs do not reflect the above mentioned discount and/or credit.
The costs do not reflect the above mentioned discount and/or credit. The cost of your cruise or cruise/land tour does include service charges for land-based personnel and $799 per person which covers taxes/port charges/fees and onboard services. Onboard gratuities are neither required nor expected. Prices are per person, double-occupancy, U.S. dollars. Single-Triple rates available upon request where applicable. Airfare extra. Valid passport and Russian entry visa are required, and are not included in the cruise rates.
This vessel is spacious and luxurious and is equipped with stabilizers. More details:
As Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage is the hub of the state, supporting a vital business sector. An urban metropolis surrounded by wilderness, Anchorage provides all the amenities and conveniences of a large city, but leaves behind the normal congestion.
Anchorage is the largest community in Alaska with 270,000 residents. The town was founded in 1914, and within one year, the Alaska Railroad made Anchorage its hub. In 1915, Anchorage became a tent city of 2,000 people following the ‘Great Anchorage Lot Sale.’ The land auction sold lots for an average of $225 each. The city of Anchorage became officially incorporated in 1920. Major military impact allowed for the growth of Anchorage between 1939 and 1957. Roads were built and airports were constructed, allowing for continual growth of the city, and the port of Anchorage was completed in the early 1960s. In 1964, the Good Friday Earthquake demolished a large part of the town. The quake registered 9.2 on the Richter Scale, killing 131 people. Downtown Anchorage and residential areas suffered massive land slide damage. During the 1970s, Anchorage experienced another major economic boom with the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. The economy continues to thrive on natural resource production, along with finance and real estate, government agencies, tourism and transportation.
Downtown Anchorage offers a variety of shops and enjoyable cafes and restaurants. You will enjoy your day of sightseeing, traveling south along the Turnagain Arm, a beautiful trip by motorcoach to view Cook Inlet, and looking for mountain goats along the Chugach Mountain Range. You will visit the Alyeska Resort and partake in a scenic tram ride to the summit. Later in the day you will travel northeast to the Alaska Native Heritage Center and have the wonderful opportunity to learn about the various native cultures in Alaska. Members of different tribes conduct education workshops, discussing their history, customs, and way of life.
When you’re overcome by the bewildering array of neon signs and the press of the crowd, you can retreat to quiet cobbled lands and sculpted gardens for the harmony and tranquility that the Japanese have prized for centuries. Over 12 million people which is 10% of Japan's population, live in the capital city, while about 33–36 million live in the surrounding area, making it the world’s most populated metropolitan area.
Atlasova is the northernmost island of the Kuril Islands, is uninhabited, and is made up of one giant volcano. The Atlasova volcano, also known as Alaid volcano, is 7,674 feet high, the highest point of the Kuril chain of volcanoes and one of the most active. Steam rises from the cloud-covered volcano most of the time.
One of the U.S.’s most productive commercial fishing ports, Unalaska’s Port of Dutch Harbor harvests phenomenal amounts of seafood from the Bering Sea and distributes it throughout the world. The Port of Dutch Harbor is located on Amaknak Island and is connected to Unalaska by a bridge.
This is the main port of Hokkaido and the island’s only ice-free port. It exports timber, fish and coal, being the center of the huge Kushiro coal field that extends well into the sea. Kushiro is important in the production of marine products, dairy products, lumber, paper, pulp, and fertilizer. The Kushiro Marsh Land National Park is the largest marsh-land in Japan.
Situated on high hills and surrounded by volcanoes, the tallest buildings in Petropavlovsk are only 5 stories high. So mountainous is this area that the horizon cannot be seen clearly from any point in town. This city was founded by Vitus Bering in 1740 and is a great source of salmon and crab, with a large well-protected harbor.
A narrow passage leads into the caldera of Shimushir Island, which during the Cold War was home to a large Soviet naval base. Its hidden harbor hid fighter ships and submarines and from 1978 to 1991 supported around 2,000. Today the island is uninhabited with a ghost town of vehicles and equipment.
Skaly Lovushki is made up of four small islets that are home to a rookery of northern fur seals, Steller’s sea lions, and numerous bird colonies such as the home of auklets, fork-tailed storm petrels.
Yankicha has an almost eerie landscape with a beautiful caldera surrounded by a high mountain ridge and full of bubbling, odorous sulfur springs. Ancient Ainus practiced shaman initiation rites here. Today this uninhabited and rarely visited island is home to Arctic foxes, harbor seals, and numerous birds including the whiskered auklet.