Phillippines, Amami Islands & Japan Expedition

Phillippines, Amami Islands & Japan Expedition

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Experience the fascinating Philippines, Amami Islands and Japan with passionate experts, cruising on your luxurious ship to stunning and unique ports including Manila, Naha, Hiroshima, Takamatsu and Kobe. In the Philippines, palm-lined beaches meet magnificent dive sites. Made up of 7,641 tropical islands, the Philippines is inhabited by some of the world’s friendliest people, who live in a great cultural melting pot. Enjoy the warmth of their welcome before sailing to Japan, where the ancient meets the ultra-modern. You’ll be staggered by both the country’s beauty and its hospitality, rooted in centuries of tradition.

Trip Name
Phillippines, Amami Islands & Japan Expedition
Vessel Type: Expedition Ship Length: 115 meters Passenger Capacity: 152 Built: 2020-2021 Arriving in November 2021, our 5 star elegant Scandi-design boutique ship offers you an intimate setting from which you will be fully immersed in all the sights and scenery of your voyage. Introducing SH Minerva Our brand new ship has been designed to journey to off the beaten path destinations and remote polar regions in style and comfort. The ship incorporates a PC5 ice-strengthened hull combined with extra-large stabilisers to make your journey as smooth as possible. Sophisticated Elegance We know how important outdoor space is, so our spacious, relaxing public spaces provide wide open, unobstructed views throughout the ship. The destination will always be in view. Your Wellbeing  The safety & happiness of our guests is paramount to our 120-strong crew on board as well as our passionate expedition team who'll be serving up thrilling shore excursions and lasting memories. Cabin Types Our 76 cabins including 6 suites have all the amenities you will need to feel comfortable including dressing gowns, hairdryers, personal safes and minibars. Our stylish cabins all have desks, a dressing area and comfy seating. En suite bathrooms all feature glass-enclosed rain showers.


Day 1 - DAY 1, MANILA
Arrive in Manila today. The capital of the Philippines is a teeming, sprawling metropolis. Its flaws are no match for its creative, exciting energy, which infused everything from its art to food. There’s so much to see and do here: the city’s museums, Fort Santiago, San Agustin Church and the Chinese Cemetery are some of the highlights. Intramuros – the old Spanish walled town at the heart of the city – is unmissable. Explore if timings allow and be sure to sample some Filipino cuisine in all its bold sour, sweet and tangy glory. Alternatively, head straight to your home for the next 12 days. After a seamless check-in, settle into your cabin or stateroom and take time to explore your ship’s luxurious facilities.
Despite their relative popularity, the beguiling Hundred Islands still feel like a place on the cusp of discovery. Part of a reserve that covers almost twenty square kilometers in the Lingayen Gulf, northwest of Manila, the Hundred Islands National Park is actually comprised of 124 islands at low tide and 123 at high tide (this doesn’t have quite the same ring though). This area was once an ancient seabed, and the lowering of the sea level and erosion have caused them to have a peculiar mushroom-like shape. Most of the activities here involve the sea: lounging on the beach, swimming, and snorkeling, but only in approved areas. Some of the coral here has been damaged by a combination of human activity as well as weather phenomenon. Still, the government is pulling out all the stops to protect what’s left and help it regenerate. Marine biologists from the University of Philippines are also active here, replanting hundreds of giant clams.
After docking at Salomague, the main port of Ilocos Sur province, travel about an hour south to historic Vigan City to admire its beautiful Spanish architecture. Three hundred years of Spanish rule left its mark on the built landscape as well as on the way people live – the Philippines is one of only two Christian countries in Southeast Asia. Established in the 16th century, UNESCO-listed Vigan is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. As UNESCO puts it, Vigan’s “architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines, from China and Europe, resulting in a culture and townscape that have no parallel anywhere in East and South-east Asia”.
The Batan (or Batanes) Islands is a chain of 14 isolated islands located in the northernmost reaches of the Philippines. Rugged and windswept, only the four largest are inhabited, northwestern Batan Island included. Here the welcome is warm, even by the legendarily friendly Filipino standard. The native inhabitants of these islands are the Ivatans, who are famed for their distinctive typhoon-resistant houses and wearing the vakul, headgear designed to protect against the weather. The island’s must-sees include its verdant pasturelands, technically still active volcano, an abandoned weather station, some World War II-era tunnels, the pretty village of Mahatao, and Ivana with its picturesque yellow church and Batan’s oldest stone house.
Day 5 - DAY 5, AT SEA
Cruise the Pacific Ocean as you depart from the Philippines, sailing towards Naha, the capital of Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan. Perhaps attend an onboard talk, relax in your cabin or stateroom, or simply take in the magnificent seascapes.
Part of an archipelago nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the East China Sea, subtropical Okinawa is a group of more than 160 islands that was once part of the independent Ryukyu Kingdom. Ruled by monarchs from the 1400s, Okinawa became part of Japan in the late 1800s. The capital of the prefecture is breezy Naha, home to more than 60 per cent of the main island’s residents. This seaside city offers visitors the chance to explore the recently restored Shuri Castle, once home to Ryukyu royalty, to see the Naminouegu shrine, and to experience the Kokusai-dori, Naha’s lively shopping district. There are also numerous gardens to enjoy and one of the best museum’s in all of Japan, the Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum.
With their undulating coastlines, dreamy beaches, and mangrove forests, it’s easy to become inflated with the Amami Islands. This archipelago comprises Kagoshima prefecture’s southernmost islands and today’s excursion is to the group’s largest landmass, Amami Oshima. Ringed by cerulean seas, this area was part of the Ryukyu Kingdom for nearly 200 years. There was also a brief period of American control after World War II. The culture here is closer to the other Ryukyuan islands than that of the mainland, but really visiting here is all about the great outdoors. Swaths of pristine sand and colourful marine life make Amami Oshima’s many breath-taking beaches ideal for whiling away the day above or below the glass-like surf.
Day 8 - DAY 8, AT SEA
As you cruise from the Amami archipelago towards Honshu Island, spend the day at sea savouring the ship’s facilities and learning about Japan’s many facets from the knowledgeable onboard experts. Listen to an enriching talk, indulge in a relaxing treatment at the spa, work out in the well-equipped gym, enjoy some down-time in your cabin, share travel reminiscences with newly found friends: the options are numerous.
Disembark for a poignant day of memorials and shrines. Your first port of call is the tranquil Miyajima Island, site of the iconic red floating Torii Gate of the Itsukushima Shinto shrine, and the Daisho-in Buddhist shrine. Ascend sacred Mount Misen by cable car for the island’s most beautiful walk, amidst a primaeval forest. Take a moment to admire the views of the Torii Gate and the Shinto shrine from above. Then it’s off to Hiroshima when you might like to visit Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which was designed by Kenzō Tange and inaugurated in 1955. The museum is now a national and international symbol for peace. Reflect on the bombing as you gaze at the sombre cenotaph containing the names of the victims. See the iconic Genbaku Dome, the only structure left standing at the blast site, and the Flame of Peace lit in 1964. Or you might opt to discover Japan’s breath-taking architecture at the reconstruction of feudal Hiroshima Castle, also known as Carp Castle.
Day 10 - DAY 10, TAKAMATSU
Arrive this morning in Takamatsu, the capital of Kagawa Prefecture, on the island of Shikoku. The city offers a refreshing small-city perspective on Japanese urban life. A day in Takamatsu wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Ritsurin Park, one of Japan’s most exquisite gardens. An expansive space, Ritsurin was begun by a feudal lord in the 17th century and took 100 years to establish. Dedicate several hours to these immaculately maintained gardens where shaded clearings give way to sun-dappled paths, which wind around pretty ponds and lead to bright red bridges over gentle streams. Enclosed within the garden are the Sanuki Folkcraft Museum and several lovely teahouses in which visitors can sip matcha. Another park, Tamamo-koen, contains the ruins of the city’s 16th-century castle Takamatsu-jo. Like many of Japan’s castles, it was decommissioned in 1869 following the Meiji Restoration, and nowadays only several original turrets, some walls and a moat survive.
Day 11 - DAY 11, HIMEJI
Castles have a timeless allure for travelers. They allow visitors to live out their fairytale fantasies, but also showcase staggering architecture and show off stunning locations. Himeji Castle is easily one of the most recognizable castles in Japan, and it’s the primary reason that this city in the Hyogo Prefecture is on the tourist trail. UNESCO-listed Himeji-jo is the finest surviving example of early 17th-century Japanese castle architecture. A fortification on the hilltop site was initially built in 1346 by Akamatsu Sadanori. Then in 1601, Ikeda Terumasa was handed control of the site, and following a nine-year remodelling programme, Himeji took on its present form. Unlike many other Japanese castles, it was never destroyed by war, earthquake or fire and survives today as one of the country’s twelve original castles. Also called Shirasagi-jo (White Heron Castle), due to its white outer walls, this place is a national treasure and serves a monument to the glories of an earlier age.
Day 12 - DAY 12, KOBE
Day 12 is the last day of your luxury expedition cruise from the Philippines to the Amami Islands and Japan. Disembark your ship after breakfast and transfer to the airport. Or if time allows before you begin your journey home, explore this buoyant port city. There’s more to Kobe than just beef, including a vibrant music scene, memorable museums, a laid-back atmosphere and, of course, an urban waterfall. The Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum, which narrates the story of Japanese architecture and woodworking, is excellent. For an art fix, visit the Tadao Ando-designed Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art and the Yokoo Tadanori Museum of Contemporary Art. The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Museum is moving. And for views of, firstly, the Nunobiki Falls, and then the urban sprawl and even the Seto Inland Sea (on a good day), ride the Shin-Kobe Ropeway to the mountain-top observation deck, then wander downhill through the Nunobiki Herb Gardens.
Day 13 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

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    • ● Explore some of Japan’s most beautiful and whimsical garden
    • and castle-filled cities. ● Stand before the poignant international symbol of peace in Hiroshima, and admire the shrines of Miyajima. ● Sail through what was once the Ryukyu Kingdom – the Okinawa and Amami Islands. ● Meet the indigenous Ivatan people on Batan Island, who have adapted ingeniously to a sometimes-hostile environment. ● Visit the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia, UNESCO-listed Vigan.