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April 2023


The Travel Group

Gaylia Mitcham described the adventures of the Travel Group on their journey through Japan


Sayonara Japan, Konishiwa and hello dear fellow Probians

We were a group of nineteen. Most of us left Perth in the early hours of Saturday 11th March to arrive in Tokyo, via Singapore, around midnight the same day.  A coach had been booked to go from the airport to the bustling port of Yokohama, followed by two nights in the Square Hotel, within walking distance of the cruise terminal. We all enjoyed a day of sightseeing and our introduction to the love affair Japanese people have for their pets – particularly dogs - although we did see a few cats and, most surprisingly, some ducks out for a walk on their leads!

Cruising – What a way to travel

The hardest part of the day is deciding where and what you’ll eat. No preparation, no cleaning up. You leave your room for an hour and when you return the bed is made, the floor is vacuumed, clean towels are placed in the bathroom, and the toilet paper is neatly folded into a ‘V’.  The lifts are, of course, your means of arriving at the never-ending buffet on Deck 9, or the more civilised silver service dining on Decks 2 and 3. Both venues were great. We had two tables side-by-side for the early dinner sitting which provided an opportunity for our group to catch up with what we had each done during the day. Inevitably, we’d catch up again in the morning, somewhere in The Lido, to discuss what we thought of the show the previous night and what we were planning for the day ahead.  A few words about the cruise itself: We travelled with Holland America on the Westerdam with around 2000 passengers and 1000 crew. We visited twelve ports in fourteen days, most on the main island of Honshu (one on the most southerly island on Kyushu and two in South Korea). We have been spectacularly greeted and farewelled in most ports and, while some passengers may not have appreciated waking up to the amplified sound of Japanese drummers, these performances were highlights of the trip.  This is the first cruise back in Japanese waters for the Holland America line post-Covid and one cannot fault their organisation or their level of service.  I only have one regret – that I waited until the last port of call before taking an organised tour. Tours from the boat are not cheap but the one I went on was worth every cent (around $180). I actually went somewhere significant, saw something significant, learnt something significant, and effortlessly in comfort. It was a joy, especially compared with my experience in some of the other ports.