JAPAN – Sophistication, Elegance, Age-Old Culture
Enjoy a unique vacation to Japan with MSC Cruises. This 6-Day cruise will visit some of the most beautiful areas of Okinawa, Japan and beyond. Place yourself in luxurious comfort on the MSC Bellissima while you cruise round-trip from Okinawa in March.
Days 1 & 2 – Okinawa, Japan – On an MSC Grand Voyages Cruise, you can discover the ancient beauty of the Okinawa Islands. Belonging to the archipelago of Ryūkyū, their capital is Naha.
There are many attractions and monuments that can be visited. These include Shuri Castle, the medieval residence of the Ryūkyū dynasty, the center of government and religious headquarters, and one of nine UNESCO World Heritage sites in Okinawa. Another UNESCO World Heritage site is Shikinaen Garden, where you can admire the characteristic wooden buildings with red tile roofs that overlook an artificial lake and vegetation that inspires meditation and peace. Peace Memorial Park has a great emotional impact: near the end of World War II, Okinawa was the scene of a bloody battle between Japan and the US, which killed about 200,000 people, more than half of which were civilians.
The shopping and restaurant street in Naha is Kokusai: about 1 mile of bars, cafes, hotels, and boutiques where you can linger and enjoy yourself sipping awamori, a typical liqueur from the island served with ice. The capital is also home to the museum of the former underground headquarters of the Japanese Navy and the Okinawa Prefectural Museum, where you can discover the history and culture of Okinawa. To understand how the inhabitants lived, you can also visit Ryukyumura Village, a small theme park that recreates a village where craftsmen shape pottery, weave clothing and blankets, and musicians play the sanshin guitar.
Located in front of the East China Sea, the cliff of Cape Manzamouis a true natural sculpture shaped by the ocean: a part of it looks like the trunk of an elephant. It is impossible to leave without taking a photograph.
Day 3 – Ishigaki, Japan – Your MSC Cruise will take you to the Japanese city of Ishigaki on the island of the same name, in the Prefecture of Okinawa. The island, which is 124 miles from Taiwan, is in the Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park, along with those of Iriomote and Kohama, Kuroshima and Taketomi. Ishigaki has been registered as a city since 1947, and up until 1972 it was administered under the supervision of the United States, following Japan’s surrender in World War II. You can go on an excursion to KabiraBay, also famous for its black pearl cultivation and for being the first place in the world to cultivate them. White sand, turquoise water, and dense green vegetation: the natural landscape of the Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park will take your breath away. It is tempting to dive into the beautiful sea, rich in colorful fauna, but unfortunately it is not suitable for swimming due to the strong currents.
It is also possible to take an excursion to Iriomote Island, with its soft coral beaches and almost 90% of its surface covered in tropical rain forest and mangrove swamps. Inhabited by about 20,000 people, this natural wonder is home to unique specimens of local fauna, such as the coconut crab, which can weigh up to nine pounds, measure three feet across and is able to break a coconut (hence the name), and the Irimote cat, a subspecies of the leopard cat.
You can also visit the small island of Taketomi – it has an area of 3.4 square miles and a perimeter of 5.71 miles – inhabited by just over 300 people. Houses with red-tiled roofs, white sandy streets and an explosion of flowers and plants in the gardens protected by volcanic stone walls: while walking around the island you can see ox-drawn carts and the inhabitants immersed in their daily activities, adhering to traditions handed down over millennia.
Day 4 – Taipei, Taiwan – It represents the fulcrum of the country: the headquarters of the government is located here, and it is the cultural and commercial center of Taiwan. An MSC Cruise will take you inside this crossroads of Japanese and Chinese cultures, where the ancient and modern coexist with no distinction.
One of the symbols of the city is the Taipei 101 Tower, named for the fact that there are 101 floors. First known as the Taipei World Financial Center, it is located in the Xinyi district. Reachable on an MSC excursion, this singular construction, built in 2004, is bamboo-shaped and its 1,670 feet in height made it the tallest building in the world in 2004: today, it is in 5th place; 1st place is held by Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is one of the destinations that can be reached with an excursion: a white building with a blue octagonal roof, whose colors also reflect the national flag, it is a symbol of freedom, equality, and brotherhood. Consisting of 89 steps, one for each year of the leader’s life, it is surrounded by Chinese-style gardens and buildings housing examples of Taiwanese culture. Cne of the most important monuments of the 20th century, the Memorial Hall tells the story of the Chinese nationalist government which was in charge from 1950 to 1975; opened in 1980.
More than 700,000 pieces representing 8,000 years of Chinese history and art from the Neolithic to the present day are exhibited in the National Palace Museum which can be visited on an MSC excursion. The museum was once located inside the walls of the Forbidden City of Beijing. In 1949, it was moved to the Shilin District in Taipei, into the current building, after the government of the Republic of China was also transferred.
Day 5 – Miyako, Island, Japan – Experience the world like never before when you embark on an international adventure around the globe. Discover exotic destinations as you learn about cultural traditions. Treat your palette to a diverse selection of cuisines expertly prepared by locals. Explore vast terrains for awe-inspiring views of architecture and landscapes. Or browse through boutiques for mementos of your favorite countries. An exciting world of new possibilities awaits as you create cherished memories and unforgettable stories throughout your travels.
Day 6 – Okinawa, Japan – Return to port and fly home.
THE SHIP – MSC Bellissima – Cruise aboard the world’s most beautiful ship with MSC Bellissima. Boasting a stunning array of features and technologies, Bellissima ensures an effortless travel experience. MSC for Me connects you to your fellow guests, the crew, and ship. Each room is equipped with the world’s first digital cruise assistant, Zoe, a voice-enabled Artificial Intelligence device to enhance your stay. Catch a Broadway-stye show at the London Theater. Wander through shopping boutiques and enjoy a meal at one of our exquisite restaurants at the Galleria Bellissima. Lounge by the Atmosphere Pool for a beautifully lit environment and grab a drink at the accompanying Atmosphere Bar. Immersive family entertainment includes a baby club CHICCO, juniors club LEGO, a NINTENDO experience, and so much more. With 12 dining venues and endless entertainment, MSC Bellissima ensures the vacation of a lifetime.
Sail in March 2024 for 5 nights aboard the MSC Bellissima for$1386.91 per person. Fly from Tampa to San Francisco then fly to Okinawa, Japan for this cruise.
Give TravelKatz a call at 352-277-7300 to find out more. There are always specials for your air flights, so ask about those, too.